Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3

Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3

by Leonard SlatkinLeonard Slatkin


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The surprises just keep on coming in Naxos' excellent Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Works series, of which this is volume 3, performed, like its predecessors, by the BBC Concert Orchestra under Leonard Slatkin. Some hardcore Anderson fanatics might recall "Alma Mater" (1954), a staid and respectful homage to Anderson's own alma mater Harvard University. But chances are even they have never heard its predecessor, "Harvard Sketches" (1939), which is far more irreverent and striking; the movement "Widener Reading Room" could pass for something right out of Charles Ives: placid strings are interrupted by the murmuring winds (students) and chastened by an ever more impatiently rapping ruler. This points up an interesting sidelight about Anderson; while experimental elements were not entirely foreign to his musical thinking -- after all, even pieces like "The Typewriter" are a little experimental within its own context -- he didn't really want to be seen that way, so he held the experiments back. "Melody on Two Notes" (1966) is another case in point; this piece for student orchestra is based around a motive of a rising and falling fifth, the rest of it is all in the harmony and orchestration, which envelops the simple figure in a drapery of lush elegance. Another first-timer is Anderson's arrangement of George Gershwin's "Wintergreen for President" (1932), a depression-era hit from the show "Of Thee I Sing." While it is very short, the piece shows both a mastery of orchestration and a subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor. The remainder of the disc includes some of Anderson's most familiar evergreens: "Sleigh Ride," "The Typewriter," and "The Syncopated Clock," along with worthy if less familiar titles, such as "Saraband," "Sandpaper Ballet," and the "Suite of Carols for Brass Choir." Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra's readings are pristine, but are also spontaneous sounding and never stodgy nor ingratiating in the wrong way. The only thing wrong with this Naxos project is that even with all of the wonderful new Anderson material included, we're only to three volumes, and pretty soon Naxos is going to run to the end of his relatively small catalog. Nevertheless, this series is one of the best things that has happened to Anderson in posterity; listeners devoted to him ought to regard this as a first priority.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/24/2008
Label: Naxos American
UPC: 0636943935729
catalogNumber: 8559357


  1. Harvard Sketches (5), suite for orchestra
  2. Melody on Two Notes, for trumpet & orchestra
  3. Mother's Whistler, for orchestra
  4. The Penny Whistle Song, for orchestra
  5. The Phantom Regiment, for orchestra
  6. Plink, Plank, Plunk!, for string orchestra
  7. Promenade, for orchestra
  8. Sandpaper Ballet, for orchestra
  9. Saraband, for orchestra
  10. Serenata, for orchestra
  11. Old MacDonald Had a Farm, free arrangement for orchestra
  12. 76 Trombones (from Music Man)
  13. Sleigh Ride, for orchestra (or string orchestra)
  14. Suite of Carols (7), arranged for brass choir
  15. Wintergreen for President, song (from Of Thee I Sing, musical)
  16. The Typewriter, for orchestra (with typewriters)
  17. Trumpeter's Lullaby, for orchestra
  18. The Syncopated Clock, for orchestra

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