Leonardo Leo's place in the firmament of Renaissance music is assured with several of his compositions now available in various formats. This latest release on Decca brings together some of his finest works including the monumental "Lamentations of Jeremiah", surely some of the most remarkable pieces ever composed for Good Friday.
Rousset is obviously in his element when conducting this sort of music. As Giovanna Ferrara tells us in her concise albeit excellent notes, Leo was an important part of the musical establishment in 18th century Naples and his compositions for Holy week and Lent were anticipated with particular anxiety by the general public and seasoned musical lovers.
Of the musical pieces included here, the Salve Regina is particularly ravishing for its sense of momentum and good humoured vitality. I have already said that the Lamentations remain Leo's masterpiece and here they are infused with solemnity and mystery by Rousset and his admirable group of singers and players.
The recording is of outstanding quality throughout and the notes also include the full texts and translations for all works. Together with the magnificent Couperin double album also on Decca, Rousset has confirmed his status as a towering interpreter in this sort of repertoire.
Copyright © 2003, Gerald Fenech