Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2

Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2

by Leonard Slatkin


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Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2

The brief "Woodbury Fanfare" that opens Naxos' Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Works, Vol. 2, could almost be said to herald the sound of the floodgates opening, as this disc, performed in expertly idiomatic fashion by the BBC Concert Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin, introduces five Anderson compositions never before heard on recordings. Given the relatively high concentration of Anderson's attention into short pieces, one might get the mistaken impression -- not discouraged by Anderson himself -- of a Sunday composer who knocked off pieces here and there as a form of recreation. Nothing would be further from the truth; he was a notoriously hard-working composer who also created numerous occasional pieces and arrangements for the Boston Pops that were played once or twice, tucked in a drawer, and never revisited. These range very widely in expression and purpose; "A Harvard Festival" (1969) is a sturdy and solid revision of a work written in the 1930s and based on Harvard student songs. By comparison, "Whistling Kettle" (ca. 1966) was an easy piece for strings that formed part of a projected suite, never finished, entitled The Musical Household. Based around a ciphering E, the piece is strangely nostalgic but unsentimental, and it comes from the side of Anderson that can roughly be called "experimental" in that it is equally invested in sound as it is to Anderson's penchant for delivering memorable tunes. The balance of the program is made up from Anderson's less familiar material. Much of it is well worth getting to know, such as the comical "March of the Two Left Feet" (1970), the masterful Victorian miniature "Horse and Buggy" (1951), and the "Suite of Carols for strings" (1955), one among a handful of pieces relating to the Christmas season written for the Boston Pops. Anderson's music always sparkles with enthusiasm and has that one quality he never worked without -- inspiration -- the component that sets Anderson apart from other composers in his day who were busily cranking out orchestral bon bons for the public. The extent to which Anderson's creativity knew no bounds can be awe inspiring to other composers and musicians alike, but for the non-expert listener, there is an awful lot here to enjoy; the version of "Jazz Pizzicato" (1938) is especially good. Anderson did all the work so listeners didn't have to, and while not all composers are on the same page with such work ethic, it has helped ensure that Anderson will have listeners for eternity no matter what more seriously applied minds may think of his work.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/29/2008
Label: Naxos
UPC: 0636943935620
catalogNumber: 8559356
Rank: 257548


  1. Woodbury Fanfare, for 4 trumpets
  2. A Harvard Festival, suite for orchestra
  3. Forgotten Dreams, for orchestra
  4. Whistling Kettle, for student orchestra
  5. Horse & Buggy, for orchestra
  6. The Waltzing Cat, for orchestra
  7. Home Stretch, for orchestra
  8. The Girl in Satin, for orchestra
  9. March of the Two Left Feet, for orchestra
  10. Waltz Around the Scale, for orchestra
  11. Lullaby of the Drums, for orchestra
  12. Jazz Legato, for string orchestra (or standard orchestra)
  13. Jazz Pizzicato, for string orchestra
  14. Song of the Bells, for orchestra
  15. Song of Jupiter, for orchestra
  16. Suite of Carols (6), for string orchestra

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Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 2 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Three months after volume 1, here's volume 2 in Naxos's complete orchestral works. I think there's 3 (or maybe 4) more discs to come. This one offers 5 first recordings as well as more familiar fare such as The Waltzing Cat. I enjoyed volume 1, my fears that I would suffer an overdose of too-sweet light music proving unfounded. Importantly, Anderson's gift for a good tune was accompanied by great skill as an orchestrator, so there's always plenty of variety and the idiom doesn't pall. The music is very much of a particular time - to someone such as myself who was born around the time of the latest compositions on this album, Anderson's music always conjures up images of a fifties America that seems long gone. Those pieces from 1970, then, certainly don't sound like 1970 (the year of, for example, George Crumb's Black Angels and Philip Glass's Music With Changing Parts). Fortunately, music may change but popular taste isn't obliged to change with it, and I suspect there's a new audience out there now for a proper Anderson revival. As for this volume, I find I enjoyed it even more than its predecessor. Why this might be, I'm not sure - there just seemed to be more highlights. Or perhaps the BBC Concert Orchestra were more settled in the idiom - these pieces were recorded a year after the first volume. Anyway, the highlights include some of the premieres, such as the nice bright Woodbury Fanfare that kicks off the disc, the oddly baroque-sounding Whistling Kettle, and the Lullaby of the Drums, which is guaranteed not to send anyone to sleep. Another gem is the March of the Two Left Feet, a manic dance with tricky off-beat percussion. The disc ends with 2 examples of Anderson's orchestrations of music not his own: Song of Jupiter is a version of Handel's Where'er You Walk, with trumpet, and the Suite of Carols is - well, you can probably work that out yourself (unusually for Naxos, the individual pieces aren't separately tracked here). So, if you're already an Anderson fan there's no need to hesitate, and if you've not yet sampled the series, I'd recommend this ahead of volume 1 (which is also recommended!).