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John J. Puccio
Classical Candor, November 2009

American composer Leroy Anderson (1908–1975) was primarily a miniaturist who created tiny, descriptive tone poems that perfectly encapsulated a time, a place, or an event. When you listen to his work, you say to yourself, “Wait. I know that. Did he write that, too?” There are sixteen pieces of music on this disc, the longest lasting twelve minutes, most of them lasting no more than four or five minutes, and you marvel at the man’s ingenuity and sense of fun.

Of course, many of Anderson’s most-famous works are on Volume 1, but there are still enough good things left over to fill out this budget-priced Naxos disc. Some of the music is more serious than others, of course. Things like “Song of Jupiter,” for instance, is a rearrangement of Handel by way of Elgar, while other pieces flirt with familiar jazz idioms, like “Jazz Legato” or “Jazz Pizzicato.” But mostly his works are little showpieces, and you’ll instantly know them when you hear the first few notes. Pieces like “Horse and Buggy,” “Whistling Kettle,” “Home Stretch,” and “The Waltzing Cat” are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

Leonard Slatkin performs these pieces with the BBC Concert Orchestra, and he does a fine job with them, even if he doesn’t quite match Frederick Fennell for sheer élan on the old Mercury recording of more than half a century earlier. The Slatkin performances are competent without being absolutely riveting. The sound, too, is good without being top drawer. It lacks a little something in transparency and dynamic impact, but, again, my comparison was the old Mercury recording, which is hard to beat by any standards.



George Hall
BBC Music Magazine, October 2008

Performance: 
Recording: 

In his heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s, Leroy Anderson was America’s leading purveyor of light orchestral music. His finely crafted miniatures charmed audiences at the Boston Pops and even made it into the hit-parade (Blue Tango stayed at No. 1 for 15 weeks in 1952). This three-volume collection brings together all his orchestral music, including several items that have deservedly retained their popularity…Not everyone will be able to put a name to the wistful Forgotten Dreams, the toe-tapping Bugler’s Holiday or Sleigh Ride, but these and a handful of others will be instantly recognised.

Other pieces, a number of them recorded here for the first time, are only marginally less good. The classical Jukebox cleverly puts the song ‘Put another nickel in’ through the paces of Wagner, Delibes and Liszt. ‘Widener Reading Room’, one of Anderson’s Harvard Sketches, has ‘layered disruptions’, in annotator Richard S Ginell’s words, that recall Charles Ives. Harvard graduate Anderson himself studies with Walter Piston and George Enescu, and his training shows in his consistent technical quality.

Some arrangements here are of other people’s music, notably Handel’s ‘Where’er you walk’ for trumpet, Meredith Wilson’s ‘Seventy-Six Trombones’ in Sousa style, and Christmas songs for both string and brass. The sole substantial independent piece is the 1953 Piano Concerto, which starts out as a Rachmaninov derivative but has a real gem of a slow movement that Gershwin might have signed. It’s finely played by Jeffrey Biegel, while Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra do an excellent job throughout.



James Miller
Fanfare, September 2008

According to the detailed annotations that accompany the CD, six of the selections listed above have been recorded for the first time…I think that even the slightly adventurous will find some jewels among the unfamiliar pieces. Slatkin and the orchestra seem tuned-in to the Anderson idiom and lose nothing by comparison with others in the familiar pieces…I await Volume 3.



Robert Cummings
Classical Net, July 2008

That’s why this Naxos series is so valuable to the Anderson enthusiast, and to almost anyone interested in light classical music. This, the second volume in the series, contains some real gems: The Waltzing Cat (1950), Home Stretch (1962) and Lullaby of the Drums (1970), the latter billed here as a world premiere recording. Of course, there are the two hit numbers from early in his career Jazz Pizzicato and Jazz Legato, both dating to 1938. Most of these and the other numbers on the disc contain Anderson’s trademark orchestral touches, from the clattery, rhythmic percussive effects, heard in Horse and Buggy (1951) and Home Stretch to the swoops and whistles, heard in The Waltzing Cat and March of the Two Left Feet (1970).

But amid all this colorful stuff there is the relatively somber arrangement of the Handel number from Semele. Here we are presented with a more serious Anderson, wherein most listeners unfamiliar with the piece would not likely guess the composer of it. The closing item, Suite of Carols, is a charming work running more than twelve minutes, and once again showing Anderson in a slightly more serious mood. The listener will recognize many of the tunes used here, including It Came Upon a Winter Night, O Little Town of Bethlehem and Away in a Manger.

The sound on the disc is vivid, and as expected Leonard Slatkin draws fine performances from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Like the first issue in this series, this disc can be highly recommended.



Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, July 2008

Leroy Anderson’s name on a disc cover is pretty much a guarantee of vitality, wit and enjoyment. The only proviso concerns performances. And as with the first volume in Slatkin’s Naxos series the performances are engaging, stylistically apt and full of curvaceous allure. The fact that we have five world premiere recordings—and no mere shavings from the bench at that—is surely even more reason to look favourably on this latest, peppy entrant.

The disc is excellently played and conducted—and warmly recorded—so Anderson devotees will find much to excite and entertain them.



Andrew Lamb
Gramophone, July 2008

More Anderson delights unearthed in this excellent Slatkin series

Having launched its collected edition of Anderson’s orchestral music with such a first-rate programme (30/08), Naxos might reasonable have been expected to produce a less obviously compelling follow-up. For all the expertise displayed, Anderson’s arrangement of Handel’s “Where’er you walk”—Song of Jupiter—and his Suite of Carols scarcely match the appeal of his most popular miniatures. Of these latter, this collection includes most obviously Forgotten Dreams (delightfully reflective here), The Waltzing Cat, Jazz Legato and Jazz Pizzicato (both played in their versions for full orchestra), and the swinging syncopated waltz Song of the Bells.

Of five items new to record, the brief Woodbury Fanfare is followed by A Harvard Festival, a revision of a lively arrangement of Harvard student songs with which Anderson first gained acceptance with Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops in 1936. Waltz Around the Scale is another appealing piece with graceful waltz tunes set against descending and ascending major and minor scales. It was apparently Anderson’s last composition, and it’s astonishing to read that—as with the somewhat similarly conceived Lullaby of the Drums—he subsequently withdrew it. Likewise withdrawn was the slight Whistling Kettle, apparently intended as part of a suite of household subjects that never.

As before, the performances can compete with the best. Slatkin’s tempi are consistently well chosen and generally close to Anderson’s own. Even if without quite the appeal of its predecessor, this second instalment is one that no lover of Anderson’s music will want to be without.



John France
MusicWeb International, June 2008

I must admit that I tend towards being a completist when it comes to music. It probably goes back to days when I used hang over railway bridges and haunt the end of Motherwell station platforms to collect steam and diesel locomotive numbers. However, my thoughts on musical completeness are slightly different. It is not really my burning desire to ‘collect’ every work written by Bax, Beethoven or Bliss. Goodness knows, I would not want to plough my way through the myriad ‘dances’ for piano by Ludwig any more than I could settle down to address every sonata written by Scarlatti. But there is a valid reason for a ‘complete’ or ‘collected’ edition of the complete works of a poet, an author or a composer. It gives the listener, the student and the musicologist a reference on which to base their criticisms and understanding of the composer. And for this reason alone I applaud Naxos and their attempt to present all the orchestral works of Leroy Anderson.

It goes without saying that the playing is excellent and the sound quality superb. The balance of the programme is well thought out and the sleeve-notes are informative…



Uncle Dave Lewis
Allmusic.com, June 2008

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…



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, June 2008

This second volume in Naxos’ ongoing survey of Leroy Anderson’s (1908–1975) complete orchestral music features five world première recordings. Not only that, but most of the remaining eleven selections will be new to most, making this release a must for all pops enthusiasts. You’ll find each of these tiny pieces a perfectly cut, melodically lustrous gem.

The recording premières of two of the composer’s later works, Waltz Around the Scale (1970) and Lullaby of the Drums (1970), are next. The bonnie bluebells of Scotland would seem to have some association with the waltz, which is such an outstanding miniature that it’s hard to understand why it’s never become more popular. The lullaby is actually more of a march, and a percussion-laced Latin offering that’s bound to please.

As on his first volume of Anderson for Naxos, conductor Leonard Slatkin elicits exceptionally spirited performances from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Pianist Alistair Young and trumpeter David McCallum are to be complimented for their fine solo work in Forgotten Dreams and Song of Jupiter respectively…the overall sonics are excellent with the soundstage more ideally proportioned than on the first disc. You’ll find a number of Popsicles here, served up by a Good Humor Man who was one of America’s finest light classical composers.



Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, May 2008

This CD is the second volume in Naxos’s ‘Leroy Anderson Orchestral Music’…and it includes, as you can see from the header, no less than five world premiere recordings. First is the curtain raiser, the imposing A Woodbury Fanfare, written for the tercentenary of the composer’s adopted home town in Connecticut; it consists of a series of fanfares for four trumpets. A Harvard Festival weaves together four student songs into a joyful, exhilarating whole with a noble, dignified climax. The third premiere, Whistling Kettle, based on a student work, is built around a high violin drone on E to represent a kettle; it has the qualities of folksong; sadly it was subsequently withdrawn by Anderson. Waltz Around the Scale is a graceful series of waltzes against ascending and descending major and minor scales. The fifth and final premiere is Lullaby of the Drums—another piece inexplicably withdrawn by the composer—is more of a relaxed march than a lullaby with tapping snare drum, pounding timpani and a Latinized tattoo of bongos—a real find this latter one.

Interestingly the Gramophone Classical Music Guide chooses to ignore Leroy Anderson completely, not so its rival Penguin Guide. Neither does Maestro Leonard Slatkin; he is no stranger to the music of Leroy Anderson for he recorded an album of his music with the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra for RCA between 1993 and 1995. (09026 68048 2) that included many of the composer’s most popular tunes such as Blue Tango, The Syncopated Clock, Sandpaper Ballet and The Typewriter. Then and for this new release, Slatkin delivers smiling, unabashed performances full of joie de vivre.

There are some Leroy Anderson favourites included in this album including: Horse and Buggy with its easy-going trotting tune, the humour of the coy string glissandos that comprise The Waltzing Cat, and the well-known, dreamy tune that is Forgotten Dreams—one of those hypnotic melodies that one just cannot forget. Song of the Bells was another Anderson popular hit, and another lovely waltz strongly featuring tubular bells. Jazz Legato and Jazz Pizzicato come from 1938; the Legato piece was never as popular as its well-known companion Pizzicato but both are delightful. Again, not quite so popular as Blue Tango was another Anderson tango, The Girl in Satin included here. The presto Home Stretch has all the excitement of the racetrack. The comedy number March of the Two Left Feet, complete with comic pratfall effects, was inspired by a P.G. Wodehouse story, The Man With Two Left Feet.

In rather more serious vein is Song of Jupiter, Anderson’s sensitive arrangement of Handel’s ‘Where’er you walk’ with the fine trumpet playing of David McCallum. The concert’s most substantial piece ends the programme: the Suite of Carols for String Orchestra. Written imaginatively in neo-classical elegance, Anderson commented, “I didn’t just want to make medleys of them (the carols), that’s the usual thing…in treating them instrumentally, I thought I’d try to get something that would give a little scope and be a little different.”

Slatkin delivers performances full of vitality and there are no less than five world premieres to savour. A must for all Leroy Anderson fans.




David Hurwitz
ClassicsToday.com, May 2008

If you enjoyed Vol. 1 in this ongoing series of Leroy Anderson’s warm and beautifully crafted orchestral works, then you’ll surely want this release as well (and probably the next one too). The performances are just as fine, and once again we get several important premieres, most notably A Harvard Festival (a sort of Academic Festival Overture, complete with organ to add extra weight to the climaxes) and Lullaby of the Drums. Only a few of Anderson’s better-known works are here, most particularly The Waltzing Cat and Jazz Pizzicato, and once again there is one (relatively) large piece, the Suite of Carols, though this doesn’t compare in importance to the marvelous Piano Concerto featured in Volume 1. Still, Anderson’s brand of melodious charm is timeless, and you’ll doubtless find many very enjoyable discoveries on this well played, well engineered disc. Kudos also go to Slatkin for lavishing such care and enthusiasm on “pops” repertoire. Easily recommendable.



Mark Styker
Detroit Free Press, May 2008

“Vol. 2” includes several world premiere recordings and pieces recently released by Anderson’s family. These are fun, but familiar favorites like “The Waltzing Cat” and “Jazz Pizzicato” make the greatest impression. If I were recommending a single Anderson CD, I’d go for Slatkin’s mid ’90s recording with the St Louis Symphony, “The Typewriter,” which gets you the greatest hits with more homegrown style.

That said, the Naxos survey is rewarding and overdue. I was taken with several works on “Vol. 2” that I didn’t know, especially a suave beguine called “The Girl in Satin” whose sighing melody is as fresh as morning dew. Charm is a vastly underrated quality in music…



Frank Behrens
Bellows Falls Town Crier, May 2008

The Naxos CD series American Classics is being further enriched by “Leroy Anderson, Orchestral Music 2.” Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra in 16 more selections by this master of the miniature musical morsel.

Included here are “Whistling kettle,” “The girl in satin,” “Lullaby of the drums,” and “Jazz Legato.” It is good to hear such unfamiliar works by Anderson played with such gusto. In fact, five of them are world premier recordings. I look forward to Volume 3. Meanwhile, this CD and Volume 1 are highly recommended.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2008

It seems strange that works by such a popular composer are still being ‘discovered’. Here we have five pieces in manuscript form that the Anderson family have made available for this recording, A Harvard Festival being a real find. It was the work that introduced him to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops in 1936, and proved to be the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship. The Anderson story is strange, his early career taking him into the world of languages, though by then he had also spent time studying composition with George Enescu and Walter Piston. So it was by pure chance that Fiedler heard the work that Anderson had composed when he was a student at Harvard University. It had been created by four linked Harvard songs and was to be one of Anderson’s more extended works. The other, on this release, is the Suite of Carols for String Orchestra, a compilation of well-known and some less familiar Christmas melodies. Otherwise the disc contains a series of his miniatures seldom exceeding three minutes and thereby sitting neatly on one side of a disc at the time of composition. Today the titles may have lapsed from memory, but the gorgeous Forgotten Dreams is a perfect example of his gift for gorgeous melody. The unforgettable Waltzing Cat, which added much to his popularity; the quirky Jazz Pizzicato and the creamy The Girl in Satin are also here, and you will enjoy his Whistling Kettle and Waltz Around the Scale. The whole package is stunningly presented by Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra, a group that can strut their way through Horse and Buggy and Jazz Legato as well as any orchestra on the other side of the Atlantic. The BBC engineers are adept at producing such discs with that mix of sugar and cream.






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