Leonardo Leo (1694-1744) lived and worked in Naples throughout his life. Naples was an important centre for musical training and, above all, for instruction in singing. Like his Neapolitan contemporaries Porpora, Vinci and Pergolesi, Leo was active chiefly in the sphere of opera and, to a lesser extent, sacred music – his setting of the Miserere
was later to be admired both by Verdi and Wagner. But Leo also turned his hand to instrumental compositions among which are six concertos for cello, violins in two parts and basso continuo and the present Concerto in D major for four obbligato violins and continuo. The piece is introduced by a well-sustained ‘Maestoso’ whose mainly unison tuttis alternate with lyrical violin solos. A brisk, concise fugue (‘Allegro’) follows in which Leo’s colloquium of violins enters into an animated dialogue. The melancholy third movement (‘Larghetto’), which takes us into the key of G minor, contains an elegiacally expressive melody for solo violin, punctuated by sombre tutti interjections. The concerto concludes with a spirited and cheerful ‘Allegro’.
from notes by Nicholas Anderson © 2001