Leonardo Leo

Leonardo Leo - (1694 - 1744)
James Sanderson's biography of the Neapolitan composer.
Contributor: James Sanderson

b San Vito degli Schiavoni, 5 Aug 1694; d Naples, 31 Oct 1744

Leonardo Leo was one of the leading Neapolitan composers of his day, particularly in the genres of theatre and church music.

He studied with Fago at the Conservatorio S Maria della Pietà del Turchini and his first known major performance was of a sacred drama S Chiara or L’infedeltà abbattuta in 1712 at the conservatory. This work must have found favour with the rulers of Naples for shortly after this he was appointed assistant organist at the vice-regal chapel.

Leo’s 1st opera in 1714 Il Pisistrato was received with acclaim as was his 1718 2nd opera Sfonisba and from 1720 until his death he received a continuous stream of commissions for operas in Naples, Rome, Venice, Bolgna, Turin and Milan

A notable contribution to the genre was the 1723 commedia musicale La’mpeca scoperta. This was to prove a genre in which Leo could flourish in Naples, his serious Neapolitan operas being overshadowed by his rivals Vinci and Hasse despite successes in other Italian cities.

Leo was also a prominent teacher and held positions at the Conservatorio S Maria della Pietà del Turchini (vicemaestro), the Conservatorio S Onofrio (where he succeeded Feo as primo maestro) and finally succeeding his old teacher Nicola Fago at the Conservatorio S Maria della Pietà del Turchini. One of his greatest contributions to musical development at this time was an attempt to reform religious music in Naples – his 8 part Miserere is an excellent example of this as are the oratorios S Elena al Calvario and La morte di Abele to texts by Metastasio. In fact there was a great deal of rivalry between Leo and the other great Neapolitan composer of church music at the time Francesco Durante, the city dividing into Leisti and Durantisti.

He became principal organist of the vice-regal chapel on Alessandro Scarlatti’s death in 1725 and succeeded Vinci at the royal chapel in 1730, becoming vice-maestro there in 1737 and maestro di cappella shortly before his death.
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Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
Setting father Salve Regina
£7.95
Setting of the Salve Regina
£6.95
6 cantate spirituale
£15.95
Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Cantata à soprano solo con violini
£5.95
Cantata à soprano con violini
£5.95
Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Cantata à soprano solo con violini
£5.95
Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Collection of cantatas for soprano
£9.95
Leo: Quel usignuolo che in quella pianta
Forces: soprano & continuo

As the nightingale sings of the pains of love, Filli's lover swears his devotion to her and begs her to ignore all the lies and jealousies that plague young love. ARA format, the first a complex and virtuosic larghetto, e cantabile, the last marked non presto

Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 2358

Range: e - a''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
Leo: S'io credessi il cor costante
Forces: soprano & continuo

'If' is, of course, the important word in this cantata. "If I belived in a faithful heart..." A discussion of the pain caused by loving too much. ARA format, both arias excellent and sinuous.

Source: Münster Santini Sammlung Hs 2358(3)

Range: d# - a''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
Leo: S'offendesti il mio Signor
Forces: alto & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 14112

The fifth of six 'Cantate Spirituale' in a British Library manuscript containing works exclusively by Leo.

In three recit and aria form with an extraordinarily beautiful first aria (Largo). The text describes a desire not to be born if, during life, one could offend God.

Range: a - d'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Leo: Salve Regina in C minor
Forces: soprano, strings & continuo

A darker and more complex setting of the Marian antiphon than the well-known F major version. Some exquisite harmonic shifts, changes in instrumentation and beautiful, singable vocal writing. Divided into 5 sections (one in two parts) the text is painted with a vivid palette of instrumental and vocal colour.

Source: BL MS R.M.23.c.17.(3), once the property of Dr. Burney.

Range: d - a'' flat

Editor: James Sanderson

Setting father Salve Regina
£7.95
Leo: Salve Regina in F major
Forces: soprano, strings & continuo

Source: Royal Music Collection 23.c.17.(3)

A new edition of Leo's exquisite Salve Regina in F major.

In 6 sections - Largo, Allegro, Largo, Allegretto, Recitativo, Largo it has excellent variation between sections, the fourth running directly into the recit using a descending figuration. This piece has the ability to really move the listener. It is one of the works which make one ask, "Why, to a large extent, was this composer forgotten for so long?"

Range: d - b flat''

Editor: James Sanderson

Setting of the Salve Regina
£6.95
Leo: Sei cantata spirituale
Forces: alto & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 14112

The six cantate spirituale from the above MS in a collected form. Beautiful writing both in recitative and aria.

Save £££ by buying all these as a collection.

For previews see the individual cantatas:
Adorato Giesù
Dove fuggo, a che penso
Tremolanti d'intorno
Vissi nol niego
S'offendesti il mio Signor
Sono piene di serene

Editor: James Sanderson

6 cantate spirituale
£15.95
Leo: Sono piene di serene
Forces: alto & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 14112

The last of six 'Cantate Spirituale' in a British Library manuscript containing works exclusively by Leo.

In three arias & two recits form, the subject matter boils down to redemption only being found through God.

Range: a - d'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Leo: Sorge Lidia la notte
Forces: soprano, strings & continuo

Source BL Add 31618 - a manuscript conatining a number of orchestral cantatas by Leo in copies of varying quality.

The format is sinfonia - recit - aria - recit - aria and the general feel is that peculiar pre-classical sound with repeated bass notes and many pedals. A charming cantata in which the lover compare's the beloved's absence to the shadows of night. Very romantic!

Range: Bb - g'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à soprano solo con violini
£5.95
Leo: Sotto l'ombra d'un faggio fermò l'incerto passo
Forces: soprano & continuo

Source: BL Add MS 14210 ff 35v - 41v

The young man, perhaps unlucky and unhappy Tirsi, finds himself once more beneath the shade of a beech tree lamenting the cruelty of his beloved Dorinda. 2 recit and aria form with some stylish vocal passage work in both arias.

Range: d# - g#''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à voce sola di soprano
£4.95
Leo: Tormentoso pensiero
Forces: soprano, strings & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 31618

From a selection of Leo orchestral cantatas in copy, this is a charming example of the genre. Two recit and aria format, both arias in an extremely late baroque style.

The text deals with a young man's absence from his beloved Eurilla.

Range: d - b flat''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à soprano con violini
£5.95
Leo: Tremolanti d'intorno
Forces: alto & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 14112

The third of six 'Cantate Spirituale' in a British Library manuscript containing works exclusively by Leo.

An atmospheric opening recit. with the vocal line imitating the trembling of the title, the cantata contains three recit and aria pairs. The text concerns the devout's willing sacrifice for love of God.

Range: Bb - d'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Leo: Vado dal piano al monte
Forces: soprano, strings & continuo

Source: BL Add 31618

Searching from field to plain the lover cannot find his beloved Clori and his sadness is killing him - the melodrama! Aah...

In aria - recit - aria format, the first a beautiful Larghetto the last a gracious Allegretto.

Range: e - a''

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata à soprano solo con violini
£5.95
Leo: Vissi nol niego
Forces: alto & continuo

Source: BL MS Add 14112

The fourth of six 'Cantate Spirituale' in a British Library manuscript containing works exclusively by Leo.

In three recit and aria form with some extraordinary chromatic shifts. The text concerns redemption through contrition and the desite to be with God in death.

Range: Bb - d'

Editor: James Sanderson

Cantata spirituale
£4.95
Sotto l'ombra d'un faggio (collection)
A collection of three settings of the 'Sotto l'ombre d'un mirth' text, by Mancini, Leo and Porpora. A fun collection with much to offer. 2 continuo cantatas and one with violins. See the individual cantatas for previews etc.

The young man, perhaps unlucky and unhappy Tirsi, finds himself once more beneath the shade of a beech tree lamenting the cruelty of his beloved Dorinda. 2 recit and aria form with some stylish vocal passage work in both arias.

Collection of cantatas for soprano
£9.95
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