Piano Trio in D Major, Op.2 No.8
Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) was born in the French city of Lyon. Though he studied violin, he originally pursued a career as a ballet dancer. After the publication of his twelve Op.1 Violin Sonatas in 1722, he changed directions and pursued a career as a concert violinist and composer. He is considered the founder of the French school of violin playing and expanded the instrument's technique considerably. As were most of his contemporaries, Leclair was a prolific composer, writing numerous, suites, sonatas, concertos, vocal works, ballets and stage music.
Op.2 No.8 has an interesting history. It was composed in 1728, originally a trio sonata for violin, viola da gamba and continuo. However, its opus number is misleading as it was not part of a set of similar works. It was composed by itself and was stuck into a set of violin sonatas. Later, in 1753, Leclair rewrote it for two violins and continuo, giving it the opus number Op.13 No.2. In the trio, Leclair used the then ascendant Italian pattern of slow—fast—slow—fast for his movements, however the delicate ornamentation is clearly French. In the treatment of the bass line, the work was considerably ahead of its time. The bass line is a true third voice and not merely a doubling of the continuo. Not even Mozart in his piano trios treated the cello so well. The work opens with an stately and noble Adagio and is followed by a spirited Allegro, and then a serene Sarabande. The finale is an exuberant Allegro assai.
Our edition is for the modern piano trio and not the harpsichord and gamba. It is based on the 1728 Second Livre de Sonates. Because of its treatment of the base line (cello), this is an historically important work which makes an excellent choice for a trio looking to present a work from the French Baroque era.