on, I defy you to not enjoy this wonderful, tuneful, exuberant,
Williams described Anderson as "one of the great American masters of light
orchestral music", but in truth he is without peer. Not
even the great David Rose is quite up there with Anderson. He
studied harmony with Georges Enescu and composition with Walter
Piston at Harvard and was discovered by Arthur Fiedler in 1936,
and the rest, as they say, is history.
the years there have been many recordings of Andersonís music
Ė many by Anderson himself conducting a pick-up band Ė but they
have almost always concentrated on the well known works. Indeed,
Slatkin himself, recorded an Anderson album with the St Louis
Symphony but that, too, concentrated on the popular pieces.
This disk, deliciously described as Volume 1 (Hurrah!), mixes
the popular with the less well known.
disk explodes into life with the Buglerís
Holiday, the performance simply bursts out of the speakers at you. The BBC
Concert Orchestra, a band which can play just about anything
from Finziís Intimations of Immortality (I remember a
superb performance of that work in about 1975 on BBC Radio 3,
conducted by its then chief conductor Ashley Lawrence) to Charles
Williamsís Devilís Galop is on top form. Indeed, Iíve
never heard an orchestra enjoying itself so much. Is there another
such versatile band in the world I wonder?
brings out the very best from the orchestra, with a wonderful
swagger and perfect sense of style. He forms each miniature
with care and love, making them the mini masterpieces so many
of them are.
The disk ends with Andersonís biggest concert work Ė the Piano Concerto
in C. Here the style here is more serious, which might account
for the mixed reception it received at its premiŤre in 1953, but enjoyable as it is it lacks that special something
which makes his pops pieces so perfect. Having said that, the
slow movement is simply drop dead gorgeous, with a lovely dance
section in the middle, and the finale is a hoot. Anderson withdrew
the work, which, with hindsight, we can see was unfair, as it
is a fine piece. Itís interesting that another composer working
in the light field Ė Stephen Sondheim Ė withheld his Piano
Concertino, written in 1949, from public consumption,
until Jonathan Sheffer discovered it and gave it its premiŤre
Look, you donít need me to tell you that this is essential listening
for anyone with a soul and a love of a good tune. You owe it
to yourself to make space in your life, and your CD collection,
for such carefully wrought serious light music.
performances are all you could wish for, the recording excellent,
the notes informative. Until a recent spate of new recordings,
light music had a bad press for too many years, not being worthy
of a serious music lovers attention, but just like allowing
yourself that second Mars Bar, itís great to wallow in sheer
delight and enjoy the guilty pleasure of a good tune.