During the first half of the eighteenth century Naples, like Venice, was celebrated for its opera. Neapolitan operas, serious and in a lighter vein, were generously catered for in respect of orchestral colour, vocal virtuosity and expressive variety, and these qualities are present in the instrumental music of the period. Here is a programme of music by three of the composers who flourished in the city during that time.
Few composers other than Schubert have acquired posthumous celebrity status in as short a space of time as Pergolesi, who died at the age of twenty-six. Among the genuine products of his pen (there are many spurious 'attribs') we should probably count the violin concerto in B flat as one of his most impressive instrumental works. Durante reveals an expressive individuality, sometimes marked and sometimes quirky. Leonardo Leo was active chiefly in the sphere of opera and sacred music, but also turned his hand to instrumental compositions among which are several concertos including this lively Concerto in D for four obligato violins and continuo.