Messa a Piu Voci (Leonardo Leo)
Neapolitan Mass setting (Kyrie and Gloria) for in twelve movements, approximately 32 minutes in length.
Scored for SSATB soloists, SSATB choir, 2 oboes, 2 horns (dispensable), 2 trumpets, strings, and continuo.
1. Coro: Kyrie eleison (4:30)
2. Soli e Coro: Christe eleison (3:00)
3. Coro: Kyrie eleison (1:00)
4. Coro: Gloria in excelsis Deo (2:15)
5. Soli e Coro: Et in terra pax (2:00)
6. Quartetto (SSAT): Laudamus Te (3:30)
7. Basso e Coro: Gratias agimus tibi (1:45)
8. Due (SA): Domine Deus (3:30)
9. Coro: Qui tollis peccata mundi (2:45)
10. Tenore: Qui tollis peccata mundi (2:15)
11. Basso: Quoniam To solus sanctus (2:15)
12. Coro: Cum Sancto Spiritu (3:00)
This mass was edited from the autograph score, which was a part of Vincent Novello’s personal collection. The manuscript indicates that Leo completed the composition on 18 February 1739. There is no title page, but the first page of music identifies the work as “Messa à piu voci con V.V. [violins], Violetta, Trombe, Oboi e Corni di cacchia ad libidum, del Sigr. Leonardo Leo.” The oboes and trumpets are vital to a performance of the piece. However, by the composer’s own note, the horns may be eliminated.
Composed before the introduction Leo’s reforming style of church music, this piece is typical of the mid-century Neapolitan Galant, incorporating antico-style counterpoint as well as the clean homophonic style that was gaining popularity. Particularly notable is Leo’s use of the strings in a way that supports but is independent of the voices. The instruments frequently rest for several measures, returning in an accompanimental role with little doubling of the voice parts. Additionally, the soloistic use of the oboes and trumpets in their respective movements leads to an interesting orchestral color scheme.