Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1

by Leonard Slatkin


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While American composer Leroy Anderson's music has never suffered for enthusiasm in concert halls, recordings of his work significantly declined in the digital era over that of LPs; record companies were satisfied to reissue the older recordings again and again. One of the best digital recordings of Anderson was The Typewriter: Leroy Anderson Favorites recorded by Leonard Slatkin and the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for BMG. This title still appears to be in print as Slatkin returns to the scene of the crime with Naxos' Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music I, included in Naxos' American Classics series. While it does share a few titles in common with the earlier release, more than half of the disc consists of material that Slatkin did not explore in the BMG title. At least one piece, "Governor Bradford March" in its orchestral incarnation, hasn't appeared on any recording, and certain other pieces included, such as "China Doll," "Balladette," and "The Classical Jukebox" are relative rarities for Anderson. So is his "Piano Concerto in C major," which has only been recorded twice before, once in an arrangement for piano and organ. This composer of "perennial favorites" was perennially unhappy with his one piano concerto, his only large-scale orchestral composition, and it's fairly easy to see why; Anderson thought most successfully in short forms, and his stringing together of episodic ideas to make up the concerto doesn't really succeed in coming off as a coherent whole. However, Jeffrey Biegel does play it here with a sense of enthusiasm and dazzle, and Slatkin complies with a responsive and gracious accompaniment; the concerto is a very lovely and appealing piece to listen to, in spite of its patchwork construction. Among the lesser-known pieces, "Balladette" is rather uncharacteristic for Anderson, with its ominous, rising scale. "The Classical Jukebox" -- only lately regarded as an Anderson original, as it is based on the pop song "Music! Music! Music!" -- has a skipping record effect that points up his importance as a progenitor of the art of converting "noise" into music. No one debates the notion that Leonard Slatkin -- even with the decidedly "limey" BBC Concert Orchestra -- has a way with Leroy Anderson; that was one of the things that made BMG's The Typewriter such a glorious experience. One additional aspect that made The Typewriter so attractive was its equally glorious sound quality, which plainly is not in evidence here; the recording is more serviceable than spectacular. Nevertheless, listeners who have already shelled out for the BMG release may rest assured that they will not be duplicating very much in obtaining Naxos' Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music I. Listeners will no doubt be delighted with the range of interesting and unusual Anderson material offered here.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/29/2008
Label: Naxos American
UPC: 0636943931325
catalogNumber: 8559313
Rank: 76797


  1. Bugler's Holiday, for orchestra
  2. Blue Tango, for orchestra
  3. The First Day of Spring, for orchestra
  4. Belle of the Ball, for orchestra
  5. Governor Bradford March, for orchestra
  6. Clarinet Candy, for orchestra
  7. The Captains and the Kings, for orchestra
  8. The Golden Years, for orchestra
  9. Chicken Reel, for orchestra
  10. Fiddle-Faddle, for string orchestra (or standard orchestra)
  11. Classical Jukebox, for orchestra
  12. China Doll, for orchestra
  13. Balladette, for orchestra (or string orchestra)
  14. Arietta, for orchestra (or string orchestra)
  15. Concerto In C, for piano and orchestra (or 2 pianos)

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Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 1 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before getting this disc I knew a handful of Anderson's works but nothing here. This album is the first in a projected series of his complete orchestral works, with some premiere recordings promised (on this volume, the Sousa-ish Governor Bradford March). My test of a good "light music" disc is, if by the end I don't feel a desperate need to listen to something like Reger's solo viola music then it's a good one. This went down a treat. My own preferences are for the quirkier pieces, the quirkiest of all being The Classical Jukebox, complete with needle-stuck-in-groove effect (which the booklet notes point out will not have any meaning for listeners below a certain age - thanks, make me feel old, why don't you!). But everything is enjoyable here. I didn't warm to the piano concerto at first, largely because I felt Anderson had strayed a bit from his strengths - not out of his depth or anything, just that when you think "piano concerto" the competition is rather strong - but having it on in the background a day later it fitted in nicely with the rest. Unless you really want to get all of Anderson's best-known pieces on one disc, I guess this is as good a place as any to start hearing this entertaining music.