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Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
Orchestral Music Vol. 5

Goldilocks – excerpts (1958) [35:40]
Suite of Carols (woodwind version) (1955) [10:46]
Goldilocks; Lady in Waiting, Waltz (1958)  [3:26]
Goldilocks; Shall I Take My Heart (instrumental) (1958) [2:24]
Kim Criswell (soprano)
William Dazeley (baritone)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin
rec. The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, September 2007 
NAXOS 8.559382 [52:16]
Experience Classicsonline


It’s always enjoyable to review an Anderson disc and especially so in the Naxos/Slatkin cycle or corpus, as I suppose we should call it. This one however causes me some problems. Unlike the earlier volumes in this series – I’ve reviewed the first three but not volume 4 – this one moves away from sparkling miniatures to give us a big-sized work, Goldilocks.

Actually what is gives us is a series of excerpts from Goldilocks, his 1965 Broadway show. It’s true that this is, as the notes aver, one of the most overlooked aspects of Anderson’s art but the corollary is that it makes for patchy listening. It was a work that had a rather tortuous gestation – endless rewrites and the usual Broadway problems. Anderson apparently remained unflustered even as the first male lead Ben Gazzara withdrew swiftly to be followed almost immediately by Barry Sullivan – the notes say, perfectly deadpan, he ‘couldn’t sing’ – and finally Don Ameche, who could. Elaine Stritch took the female lead throughout the run and she and Ameche recorded a substantial chunk of the show on LP. It’s noticeable that the Naxos selection is very much more compact so it gives one ‘highlights’ or at worst a rather partial view of the score, which here has eleven tracks. It’s a peppy score, enjoyable and engaging, with a Gershwinesque patina and plenty of Broadway bravado and panache, not least in the Overture which was orchestrated by D Ross. There are characterful dances, engaging waltzes in particular – and world premiere recordings of some movements into the bargain. Criswell and Dazeley don’t have a great deal of singing to do but do what they do well – Dazeley’s accent sounds convincingly American to me but I’m no expert on the matter. There are also a couple of concert arrangements of two of the numbers – finely realised.

We also have the Suite of Carols in its version for woodwind, written in 1955. There are six compact movements, tinged with hearth and baroque tints. An air of benevolent warmth hangs over the cycle, warmly textured, and generously spun; enjoyable to listen to.

One certainly can’t fault the production standards, booklet annotation or the performances. As ever they’re top notch. The programme didn’t grab me as much as previous volumes and that is a direct result of the truncated score and also the feeling that it’s not really top drawer Anderson. Still, admirers of the composer will know better than I how rare this material is and will want to grab it regardless.

Jonathan Woolf 

 


 


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