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Paul Turok
Turok’s Choice, June 2009

ANDERSON, L.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 4 - Irish Suite / Scottish Suite / Alma Mater / A Christmas Festival 8.559381
ANDERSON, L.: Orchestral Music, Vol. 5 - Goldilocks / Suite of Carols (version for woodwinds) 8.559382

Several continuing series have been added to. Volumes 4 (8.559381) and 5 (8.559382) of Leroy Anderson’s complete orchestral music, well performed by Slatkin and the BBC Concerto Orchestra, offer the Irish and Scottish Suites, excerpts from his musical, Goldilocks, vocal versions of Blue Tango and Belle of the Ball, plus several Christmas compilations.



James Miller
Fanfare, May 2009

Given his well-documented ability to concoct good tunes, you might expect Leroy Anderson to write at least one hit musical, especially when it was produced by Robert Whitehead, choreographed by Agnes de Mille, with the book by Walter and Jean Kerr, and extremely clever lyrics by Joan Ford and the Kerrs, and a cast that included Elaine Strich, Don Ameche, Russel Nype, Pat Stanley, and Margaret Hamilton (that Margaret Hamilton). Oddly, Goldilocks, Anderson’s one foray onto Broadway, expired after 161 performances. In his extremely informative survey, Show Tunes, 1905–1991, Steven Suskin offers a possible explanation: “The songs from Goldilocks—his only musical—might not be great, but they sure are a lot of fun…there are also a bunch of good comedy songs, with especially smart lyrics from the Kerrs and Joan Ford. The show itself had problems; either the book was too silly, or the 1958 audiences didn’t appreciate the satire.” Satire is, of course, what reputedly closes in New Haven. In keeping with Broadway tradition, Anderson didn’t even orchestrate most of the show, leaving it to Philip Lang, reserving the Overture and two dance numbers to himself. For this collection of excerpts, David Ross has reorchestrated Anderson’s original overture, which was intended for a pit orchestra, and other numbers have the benefit of Anderson’s lusher updating. Given what emerges from the CD, including the beautiful singing of Kim Criswell and William Dazeley (who don’t sing all the show’s numbers), one wonders how it could have failed. The songs they sing are listed as “World premiere” recordings. Well, maybe technically—actually all three numbers can be heard on the original cast recording—but not in Anderson’s own orchestrations. The original cast album has a few things on it that are not included, but there’s certainly enough here (35 minutes plus Anderson orchestrations of two of the show’s better songs as a bonus) to make me wonder if Goldilocks could be revived (the show’s title probably led people to expect a takeoff on the fairy tale, but the plot has almost nothing to do with it). The CD also includes yet another of Anderson’s arrangements of Christmas carols; this time, six of them arranged for woodwinds with the expected skill.



American Record Guide, March 2009

Leroy Anderson fans will want this if they want variants from the original Broadway renditions, and the carols.



Ian Lace
MusicWeb International, February 2009

What a pleasure to hear such jolly upbeat music. Leroy Anderson’s Goldilocks music lifts the spirits right from the start. This, the fifth album in the Naxos Anderson series, concentrates almost entirely on his music for the 1958 Broadway musical. Alas it was not a success; it expired after only 161 performances. The book took most of the blame. The show’s title Goldilocks probably didn’t help it much either and at that time there was a lot of competition on Broadway including: West Side Story, The Music Man and My Fair Lady.  But Leroy Anderson’s music was mostly praised.

The Goldilocks Overture sparkles; all the excerpt numbers are little gems. ‘One Good Kiss Deserves Another’ has a winning melody. William Dazely singing nicely in the ballad style of the period and is joined by a nicely coy Kim Criswell. ‘Shall I Take My Heart and Go’ is another lovely, dreamily-romantic ballad. This number is also reprised separately as an instrumental item. These two songs alone, one feels, should have ensured the success of Goldilocks especially as presented here. But this 70+ reviewer is an unashamed romantic and a lover of the musicals of this period.

Additionally there is: ‘The Pussy Foot’, a terrific swing number that will set your feet a-tapping. The ‘Pirate Dance’ bounces cheekily along, tongue-in-cheek redolent of all those Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn swashbucklers of that period. The droll ‘Who’s Been Sitting in My Chair’ is quite unlike Eric Coates’s Three Bears, rather it begins in Old-English rustic style before developing into a burlesque-like number—apparently in the show Maggie actually dances to it with a guy in a bear suit. The memorable ‘The Lady-in-Waiting Ballet’ is a quintessential Leroy Anderson with its sweeping, swinging waltz tune. ‘The Lady in Waiting Waltz’ (played later, separately) glistens and it has witty allusions to Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegel and Der Rosenkavalier. ‘The Town Maxixe’ is an easy-going number that swings along interrupted by material reminiscent of old-style madrigal tunes.  ‘I Never Knew When’ is another appealing romantic ballad, but without vocals, beginning almost Arabian Nights-like before developing into smoochiness. The ‘Pyramid Dance’ is all exuberance, bouncing and rushing along, a sort of mix of Khachaturian and Rimsky-Korsakov.

Followers of the reviews of the preceding four volumes in this series [Vol. 1 8.559313, Vol. 2 8.559356, Vol. 3 8.559357, Vol. 4 8.559381 ] will no doubt remember that Leroy Anderson arranged a number of suites of carols for different combinations of instruments—the others were for strings and brass. This collection, for wind instruments, comprises: ‘Angels in our Fields’, ‘O Sanctissima’; ‘O come, O come Emmanuel, O come’ (an inspired little pastorale); ‘Little Children’; ‘Coventry Carol’; and ‘Patapan’.

As before Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra offer polished, genial readings full of joie de vivre.

Goldilocks strikes gold. Undeservedly neglected light music.



John France
MusicWeb International, January 2009

I guess that people who are not really interested in ‘light music’ in general or Leroy Anderson in particular will know at least a couple of his pieces. Surely such numbers as The Typewriter with its onomatopoeic sounds and the ubiquitous Sleigh Ride so popular at Christmas-time are well entrenched in the public collective memory? In fact, many people will know the music but be unable to name the composer. Of course, Anderson enthusiasts will have a whole catalogue of favourites that they enjoy time and time again. Personally, along with the above ‘Seasonal Piece’, I rate highly the Penny Whistle Song, the Girl in Satin and the larger but utterly superb Piano Concerto. However, I feel that even many of the cognoscenti will be unaware of the composer’s only surviving contribution to Broadway—Goldilocks.

The first thing to note is that this musical is hardly likely to be revived. There was a lot of criticism of the 1958 show at the time—with most of the ‘brickbats’ being hurled at the libretto or ‘book’. In fact, listeners must not make the same mistake as I did and assume that this work is somehow a reworking of the children’s’ tale of the Three Bears and the eponymous girl. This is not an Eric Coatesian fantasy but a work where the two leads—a man and a woman—‘launch barbs at each other while somehow falling in love’. There is a lovely nod to the nursery tale with a fine show time song called ‘Who’s been sitting in My Chair?’. This is characteristically sung by Kim Criswell with all the panache expected of a Broadway singer.

Naxos have provided some eleven excerpts from this show. In some ways, this is quite different music from the short miniatures that most people associate with Anderson’s style. If the listener wants an example, play straightaway the Pirate’s Dance and hear an almost Star Wars tune!

The music gets off to a great start with a fine Overture that is in the typically Anderson style. The Lazy Moon is a charming happy tune that will remind many listeners of the composer’s better known work. In fact it was suggested that the show should have been called Lazy Moon as being more appropriate than Goldilocks! William Dazeley and Kim Criswell then sing a sentimental duet that could well stand alone—it’s called Save a Kiss. This is pure ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ music! The intermezzo Pussy Foot has the pizzazz of the Charleston—transposed to nineteen-fifties New York. The composer wears his heart on his sleeve for the lush Lady in Waiting Ballet—all the swirl of a ballroom dance night at the Waldorf Astoria! It is a superbly orchestrated piece that is well balanced and tuneful. The baritone sings a lovely show-time ballad Shall I take My Heart and Go?. This is an attractive love song—one of the musical’s highlights. The Town Maxixe is pure Leroy Anderson and swings along like a carriage and pair. I do not know the context of this piece, but to my mind it is an afternoon in a horse-drawn landau in Central Park. The mood then changes to a bluesy I never knew when which is just a pure romantic dream. The excerpts from Goldilocks conclude with the Pyramid Dance—which is meant to be an “Egyptian production number” from the second act.

Listeners should note that Anderson did not orchestrate all the music for Goldilocks—much of this was done by a certain Philip Lang—this was standard Broadway practice. However the composer did orchestrate the Overture, Pussy Foot and the Pyramid Dance.

The other major work on this CD is yet another Suite of Carols—the third of Anderson’s three fine Christmas arrangements. The first two were for brass and for strings and these have been issued on previous CDs in the cycle. The present Suite uses only the orchestral woodwind. These three Suites were originally issued on a 1955 long-playing album—but were broken up into pieces where a string carol followed one for brass and one for woodwind. Even a cursory hearing reveals just how good an orchestrator Anderson is. Six carols—some favourites—are featured in a well balanced group. They include: Angels in Our Fields; O Sanctissima; O Come, O Come Emmanuel; O Come Little Children, Coventry Carol and Patapan. Anderson brings a classical interpretation to these tunes—Mozart is perhaps more prominent than Gershwin. Although here and there the odd ‘Leroy’ fingerprint seems to impose itself on the proceedings. A great piece that deserves to be heard as a unity.

This fine CD concludes with two of Anderson’s own arrangements of two of his favourite numbers from Goldilocks—the Lady in Waiting Waltz and an instrumental version of Shall I take my heart? Both of these are attractive numbers—but look out for the Richard Straussian allusions in the Waltz—to Till Eulenspigel and to Der Rosenkavalier.

This is a CD that all enthusiasts of Leroy Anderson will insist on having in their collections. The music is enthusiastically played.

As noted above, most of this music is somewhat removed from the popular impression of his music. But that is quite simply what this Naxos cycle has been about—introducing the complete range of the composer’s music and not just concentrating on the pot-boilers. For this they are to be congratulated. It is a great achievement.



Andrew Lamb
Gramophone, December 2008

Another of Anderson’s Christmas selections (this time for woodwind) appears on Volume 5, a CD that’s otherwise given over wholly to the only Anderson theatre score ever to reach Broadway. We have here a good proportion of Goldilocks…in fact, it’s less a representation of the show itself than a concert suite…thus it offers something different for those who know the show as much as for those who don’t. Kim Criswell and William Dazely do the vocal items justice…and, as ever, Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra provide performances full of panache which are absolutely in the authentic Anderson style.

Those who have followed the series so far will find these successors no less superbly performed, recorded and annotated.



Bob McQuiston
Classical Lost and Found, November 2008

Here’s the fifth volume in Naxos’ ongoing series celebrating the birthday centennial of American composer Leroy Anderson (1908–1975). This album is for the most part devoted to excerpts from the score Leroy wrote for the Broadway musical Goldilocks (1958). While the book and lyrics may not have been up to those for West Side Story, The Music Man and My Fair Lady, which were running concurrently, the music is topnotch Anderson, and well worth hearing. Not only that, but four of the numbers included are world première recordings (indicated by an asterisk).

The Goldilocks selections begin with an expanded version of the overture (courtesy of David Ross) in which several memorable tunes are introduced that will become mainstays of the show. The story is set in New York in the early 1900s, so it’s not surprising to find oblique references to popular dances of the time in the seven instrumental and three vocal numbers (*) that follow. The Pussy Foot dance is reminiscent of The Charleston (1920), while the Lady in Waiting ballet is a wonderful choreographic concoction that recalls Leroy’s fabulous Waltz Around the Scale (1970), while owing a debt to Richards Strauss (1864–1949) and Rogers (1902–1979). The Town House Maxixe couldn’t have been written by anyone except Leroy, while the wistful interlude I Never Know When may remind you of the andante from Howard Hanson’s Romantic Symphony (No. 2, 1930). The rollicking Pyramid Dance has Eastern overtones and provides a fitting conclusion to this suite of selections from the original show. But that’s not all, because two different instrumental arrangements Anderson later made of the flowing waltz (*) from the Lady in Waiting ballet, and sighing song, Shall I take My Heart and Go, are also included.

The disc is filled out with the last of Leroy’s three suites of carols (1955). While the previous two were scored for strings and brass respectively, this is for woodwinds, and the most sublime of the trilogy. It contains the haunting carol O Come, O Come Emmanuel, which embodies the mood of reverent anticipation for the advent of wondrous events about to unfold.

Once again conductor Leonard Slatkin and the BBC Concert Orchestra give us enthusiastic, thrilling performances of everything. They prove themselves worthy successors to Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops, who originally championed and popularized Anderson. Soprano Kim Criswell and baritone William Dazeley are to be commended for giving us understandable, letter-perfect renditions of the three vocal numbers, which is vital, considering no texts are printed with the album notes. There’s an informality about the way they present these that’s totally in keeping with the Broadway character of this music.

Like volumes three and four you’ll find the overall sonics are excellent with the soundstage more ideally proportioned than on the first disc in this series. A bit of digital graininess still persists in a couple of massed passages, but not to a degree that would deny this audiophile demonstration status. Those having sound systems with rock-bottom bass response may notice an occasional seismic rumble most likely associated with local traffic and/or a nearby subway.



David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2008

Though Leroy Anderson had become America’s best known and most prolific composer of light music, his only score to reach the Broadway stage was to be the ill-fated Goldilocks. The Anderson story is strange, for after time spent studying composition with George Enescu and Walter Piston, his early career was in the world of languages, and it was only by pure chance that Arthur Fiedler, conductor of the Boston Pops, heard one of his student compositions and recognised the genius of attractive melodies. It was to mark the beginning of his long association with Anderson who produced a steady flow of light music cameos. Maybe the fact that he had never written a work of length was not a good omen for the composition of a full-scale musical, though it was the unattractive story of life in the age of silent movies that proved to be the downfall of Goldilocks. Much of the orchestration had been left to Philip Lang, and after the show was withdrawn, Anderson set about re-orchestrating parts of the score to form orchestral suites. The present disc includes eight of the pieces he chose together with three vocal numbers that are now enjoying their first recording. The result is attractive, with Kim Criswell and William Dazeley as the two excellent vocalists. The album also contains a reworking of popular Christmas pieces in the Suite of Carols, here played in the version for woodwind. With this volume we come to the end of the extensive trawl through Anderson’s orchestral music, superbly and idiomatically performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra with Leonard Slatkin conducting.






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