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Brian Wilson
MusicWeb International, December 2010

ANDERSON, L.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 3 – Sleigh Ride / The Typewriter / Plink, Plank, Plunk! / The Syncopated Clock 8.559357
ANDERSON, L.: Irish Suite / Sandpaper Ballet / Song of the Bells / The Typewriter (Anderson and His Pops Concert Orchestra) (1952–1954) 9.80764

I recommended Volumes 4 and 5 of the complete Naxos Leroy Anderson series two years ago (December 2008 Roundup) and the third volume is equally good. I make one small reservation, however, in favour of another download from classicsonline, Anderson’s own recordings from 1952 and 1954, still sounding extremely well and adding an extra touch of joie de vivre. The difference is especially noticeable in the case of The Typewriter and Sandpaper Ballet, where the unconventional solo ‘instruments’ are almost inaudible on the newer recording, but can be clearly heard in the excellent Naxos Classical Archive transfer.



Bauman
American Record Guide, November 2008

This is Volume 3 of Naxos’s projected complete works of Leroy Anderson. Like the earlier ones, it is superbly played and recorded. This series appears to be definitive in all respects. These works are, as Anderson himself described them, “concert works with a popular touch”. The first three are given world premiere recordings, as is Anderson’s arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘Wintergreen for President’. That is evidently one of Anderson’s first works as it is indicated as coming from 1932. Somehow I missed earlier recordings of his skillful setting of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’, which is especially delightful. The one that is somewhat disappointing is ‘The Typewriter’, where the typewriter is recorded at too low a volume.

Good notes round out this release.



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. [Actually, further volumes are also available; see Leroy Anderson’s page on this website for more information—Ed] 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.



Andrew Lamb
Gramophone, September 2008

The winning Anderson formula continues

Successive volumes of this Leroy Anderson edition have served to heighten surprise and admiration at the extent of his output. As with previous volumes, this third has its quota of favourites—Plink, Plank, Plunk!, Sandpaper Ballet, Sleigh Ride, The Typewriter and The Syncopated Clock and among them. As before, though, there are also several pieces never before recorded. Mother’s Whistler especially is so immediately engaging that one can only wonder why. Though the charm of other pieces such as Melody on Two Notes may be less immediate, it is ultimately hardly less real.

Of the rest, Harvard Sketches is a successor to the Harvard Fantasy that first attracted Arthur Fiedler to Anderson’s gifts in 1936. Like Vol 2, this also has its share of Anderson adaptations, including one of his suites of carols—this time for brass—and three straight arrangements. Perhaps “straight” is not an apt description, though, in so far as Anderson was ever one to add his own distinctive twist. In Old MacDonald Had a Farm he introduces some distinctly comical additional effects, while in Seventy-Six Trombones he cleverly highlights the debt Meredith Willson owed to the marches of Sousa.

This series would be welcome for the fascination of its contents alone, even if it were not also so impeccably produced. Performances are technically and interpretatively outstanding, with utmost fidelity to the style and tempi of Anderson’s own recordings. Richard S Ginell’s notes again add to our appreciation of a composer too readily taken for granted.



Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, August 2008

This CD is the third volume in the Naxos ‘Leroy Anderson Orchestral Music’ series—see reviews of Volumes 1 and 2 ; there has also been a ‘Favourites’ disc issued. As you can see from the header, the present volume includes four world premiere recordings.

There are yet more Leroy Anderson favourites to be found in this album including: The Typewriter, a huge Anderson hit, that had another unusual sound effect—the inclusion of an actual typewriter as a percussion instrument; The Penny Whistle Song one of Anderson’s catchiest tunes with the flutes given some of the most endearing material; The Phantom Regiment with its march tune that stirs and haunts; and Plink, Plank, Plunk! another bubbly, witty tune for plucked strings…the concert’s most substantial item is another Suite of Carols, this time for brass choir; Volume II of this series included a suite for String Orchestra. The Suite of Carols is imaginative writing of a high order lifting the usual arrangement of these popular yuletide songs to an altogether different level.

As with Vols 1 and 2 of this Naxos series, Slatkin delivers all these tuneful Leroy Anderson hits in uninhibited performances full of joie de vivre. Altogether, the three volumes that comprise this series must figure in my Recordings of the Year list.



John France
MusicWeb International, August 2008

This, at least for me, is possibly the ‘best’ of the three Naxos CDs of Leroy Anderson’s music released to date…it is self-evident that Leonard Slatkin and the ‘band’ enjoy themselves playing this music. There is, I guess, an ever-present danger that players could be condescending to Anderson’s music when they have perhaps been wrestling with Mahler, Boulez or Pärt. However, in this recording, every note is taken seriously and every bar is chock-full of ‘pizzazz’.

A great disc—and I am looking forward to what I imagine will be the fourth and final CD?



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, July 2008

This is Volume 3 of Naxos’s projected complete works of Leroy Anderson. Like the earlier ones, it is superbly played and recorded. This series appears to be definitive in all respects. These works are, as Anderson himself described them, “concert works with a popular touch”. The first three are given world premiere recordings, as is Anderson’s arrangement of Gershwin’s ‘Wintergreen for President’. That is evidently one of Anderson’s first works as it is indicated as coming from 1932. Somehow I missed earlier recordings of his skillful setting of ‘Old MacDonald Had a Farm’, which is especially delightful. The one that is somewhat disappointing is ‘The Typewriter’, where the typewriter is recorded at too low a volume.

Good notes round out this release.



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, July 2008

As with the first two volumes conductor Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra prove themselves worthy successors to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, who originally encouraged and premièred many Anderson pieces. Kudos should also go to percussionist Alasdair Malloy and trumpeter Catherine Moore for their outstanding performances in the two penultimate selections.

Like volume two, you’ll find the overall sonics are excellent with the soundstage more ideally proportioned than on the first disc. A bit of digital graininess still persists in a couple of massed string passages, but not to a degree which would rule this out of the audiophile demonstration category. Bring on volume four, Naxos!



Frank Behrens
Bellows Falls Town Crier, July 2008

One can never get enough of the musical gems of Leroy Anderson, the composer I call the Percy Grainger of the USA. Naxos’ American Classics Series of CDs is making life happier by adding “Leroy Anderson, Orchestral Music 3” to its collection.

Leonard Slatkin conducts the BBC Concert Orchestra in 18 selections, calling for (no joke) a solo typist, sandpaper, a horse neighing, and other assorted non-musical sounds that add to the fun. Anderson even arranges music by Gershwin (“Wintergreen for president”), Willson (“76 trombones”), and snatches of Sousa.

Some other titles are “Mother’s whistler,” “Plink, plank, plunk,” “Sleigh ride,” and the ever-popular “The syncopated clock.” Grab this CD and the two earlier ones while you are at it.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, June 2008

It was more by chance than design that Leroy Anderson became a composer, having decided on a career in the world of languages.Certainly his education lacked nothing in musical pedigree, having been a composition pupil of George Enescu and Walter Piston. But he had put all of that behind him when, by chance, Arthur Fiedler heard a score he had composed as a student, Harvard Fantasy. It was to mark the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between the conductor and the Boston Pops, Fiedler asking Anderson to provide an ongoing supply of lightweight cameos for the orchestra. But the final icing on the cake came in 1950 when he received a recording contract to conduct his own music, that success leading to Broadway shows. Strangely his last years were largely taken in arranging music and conducting. He was to give the world of light music some of its best known melodies, The Phantom Regiment, Plink, Plank, Plunk, The Trumpeter’s Lullaby, The Syncopated Clock, Sleigh Ride, The Typewriter and Sandpaper Ballet are included on the 18 tracks, which also include Harvard Sketches, Melody on Two Notes and Mother’s Whistler all receiving their first recorded performance. Strangely he hid away the 1940 piece, Mother’s Whistler, the ultimate in Anderson’s ‘naughty’ compositions, only to be discovered in 1980, five years after his death. He did, however, rework the general idea in The Penny Whistle Song. Two of his arrangements are also featured in Seventy-Six Trombones and the theme from Gershwin’s Wintergreen for President. The most extended score comes with the Suite of Carols for Brass Choir, a seriesof straightforward carol settings for a 1955 album. For the BBC Concert Orchestra this style of music is their daily diet, and under the American conductor, Leonard Slatkin, they produce that mix of sugar and cream for those smoochy numbers, or the spiky brilliance Anderson brought to his humerous scores. Recorded by BBC Radio engineers in that fabulous acoustic of Watford Town Hall, this is a disc no lover of light music can be without.






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