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Notes and Editorial Reviews
Leo was one of the leading Neapolitan composers of his day mainly composing prolifically in the genres of opera, dramatic works and sacred music. The melody of Leo’s music is fluid, refined and dignified, with clear and coherent harmony. However Leo makes little attempt at romantic expression and his music is rarely passionate. There is a considerable amount of serenity in the slow movements which give this listener a sense of watching clouds floating by on a calm and balmy day.
Leo’s instrumental works form only an extremely small proportion of his total output although the concerto for four violins and basso continuo, in D major is becoming increasingly better known. The six cello concertos were composed in 1738-39 in
response to an assignment from the Duke of Maddaloni. If the Duke commissioned the six concertos for himself to perform he must have been a most able cellist as the cello part is relatively demanding. Although not varying in form, the third concerto (L.30) unlike the five others is curiously titled a ‘Sinfonia Concertata’ not cello concerto. Five of the cello concertos have four movements in the Andante-Allegro-Largo-Allegro form with the exception of the D major concerto (L.10) which has an additional penultimate Fuga movement.
As with the Boccherini concertos, the performers on the Leo cello concertos are the outstanding partnership of cellist Julius Berger and the South-West German Chamber Orchestra, under Maestro Vladislav Czarnecki. Berger proves to be a most effective and sensitive soloist in these warm and sweet concertos that overflow with beautifully turned and extensive lines. He allows the cello to soar beautifully upwards to the heavens as demonstrated in the wonderful Larghetto of the D major concerto (L. 10) (CD 5, track 3, point 0:43-2:40). Berger certainly does justice to Leo’s lyrical passages, playing with expression and nobility; displaying an opulent tone, a fine example of which can be heard in the Largo e grazioso of the F minor concerto (L. 40) (CD6, track 3, points 0:44-3:54).
The sound quality from the EBS sound engineers on the recording is ideal, complementing the soloist, the accompaniment and Leo’s music. However the timings are not over-generous at thirty-seven minutes for CD 5 and forty-four minutes for CD 6.
-- Michael Cookson, MusicWeb International
reviewing these performances previously reissued as part of Brilliant 92198
Works on This Recording
Sinfonia concertata for Cello and Strings by Leonardo Leo
Julius Berger (Cello)
Pforzheim Southwest German Chamber Orchestra
Length: 10 Minutes 45 Secs.
Average Customer Review: ( 1 Customer Review )
Rediscovered August 31, 2012
By DR J W. (WOORI YALLOCK, VIC) See All My Reviews
"Leonardo Leo composed 56 Operas and six Cello Concertos, none of which I have heard before. The latter are presented here in brilliant style, representing a radical change in the direction of music at that time, eg. from Palastrina. The playing of the soloist and the orchestra are smooth and polished. This recording is an absolute delight."