Tommaso Rossi, Ensemble Barocco di Napoli
Stradivarius STR 33969
The Neapolitan composer Leonardo Leo (1694-1744) is best known for his sacred music and for operas both comic and serious, but seven sonatas for recorder and continuo by him survive in a manuscript from the collection of the Austrian Harrach family. One of its members, Aloys Thomas Raimund Harrach was Viceroy of Naples between 1728 and 1733, at a time when the recorder was still extremely popular there in spite of the rise in popularity of the transverse flute. This is the first recording of this attractive set of sonatas. They all have the same pattern of four movements, alternately slow and fast, but these tuneful pieces are never dull. Additional variety is given by the use of different instruments for the continuo of each sonata, archlute, cello, harpsichord and even bass recorder in different combinations. The booklet notes by Tommaso Rossi cram a great deal of information into a small space, and the occasional awkward translation and the lack of a clear distinction between the paragraphs make them a slightly difficult, though interesting, read.