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Sep 28, 2018

A.M.A.MI : Nova Ars Cantandi's new CD

October 2018

A.M.A.MI (Accademia Musica Antica Milano), is pleased to announce the forthcoming of a new CD (World premiere recording): Leonardo Leo (1694-1744) Responsoria, for Canto, Alto, Tenor, Bass and Organo, realised by «Nova Ars Cantandi», directed by Giovanni Acciai, for the label Deutsche Gramophone-Archiv Produktion. This important music collection is presented for the first time in a modern edition almost three centuries after it was written. Infact Leo composed his Responsorj for the Easter celebrations for the exclusive use of the chapel of the «Royal Court of the Viceroy of Naples» in the final creative period of his life (only on 25 January 1744 Leo became maestro di cappella at the royal court!). Leo set to music the entire body of 27 responsories of the Officium tenebrarum, («Responsorj del Mercoledí, Giovedí e Venerdí santo» as you can read in the frontispiece of the Manuscript Mus. Rel. 1078, held today in the library of the «San Pietro a Majella» Conservatory in Naples), a sacre rite belonging to the most solemn time of the Roman church's liturgical year: Holy Week. The poetry of the Easter Triduum evoking the final, terribile moments of the earthly life of Christ is characterised by Leo through the use of an elevated poetic and dramatic melodic tone, a chromatic harmony, a lyrical vein of boundless beauty. In his musical interpretation, Leo plumbs the depths of the words using sophisticated interpretative techniques strictly connected to «musica poetica». The entire collection is pervaded by this magic of sounds, this seemingly unending emotional tension. The pressing need to confer the maximum espressive power in the words led Leo to seek out original solutions in order to realise a truly theatrical musical picture. Leo is undoubtedly the most elevated and authorative heir to the glorious Neapolitan tradition that, from Carlo Gesualdo to Francesco Durante, and from Alessandro Scarlatti to Niccolò Jommelli, had been admired for its open-minded compositional daring, for its freedom of melodic invention and for its curiosity in seeking out new harmonies. It is no surprise that in his Memorie dei compositori di musica del regno di Napoli (Naples, 1840), the Marchese di Villarosa wrote that «no other composer of his time gave music that sublime elevation and noble majesty that are the principal characteristics of the music of Leonardo Leo».