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Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
Orchestral Music - Volume 3
Harvard Sketches* (1939) [
Melody on Two Notes* (1966) [
Mother’s Whistler* (1940) [
The Penny Whistle Song (1951) [
The Phantom Regiment (1951) [
Plink! Plank! Plunk! (1950) [2:49]
Promenade (1951) [2:47]
Sandpaper Ballet (1954) [3:18]
Saraband (1948) [3:36]
Serenata (1947) [3:54]
Old MacDonald Had a Farm (1947) [3:16]
Seventy-Six Trombones (Willson arr. Anderson) (1958) [2:57]
Sleigh Ride (1948) [2:47]
Suite of Carols for Brass Choir (1955) [11:42]
Wintergreen for President (Gershwin arr. Anderson)* (1932) [1:25]
The Typewriter 1 (1950) [1:43]

A Trumpeter’s Lullaby 2 (1949) [3:08]
The Syncopated Clock (1945) [2:26]
Alasdair Malloy 1 (typewriter); Catherine Moore 2 (trumpet)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin
rec. The Colosseum, Town Hall,
Watford, UK, 12-14 April 2007
* World premiere recording
NAXOS 8.559357 [61:49]


Experience Classicsonline

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.


The curtain-raiser, is Anderson’s less than venerable portrait of the great American institute of learning; Harvard Sketches begins with ‘Lowell House Bells’, its dignity soon blown away by the cheekiness and japes of ‘Freshman in Harvard Square’ and the goofiness that intrudes on the calm of ‘Widener Reading Room’ then the chaos that is ‘Class Day Confetti Battle’. Melody on Two Notes, the second of the premieres, based on a simple G and D tune, is an attractive little melody with a nostalgic glow. Mother’s Whistler has an engaging impish quality; it seems such a shame that this bright little bonbon with its quirky interruptions - including, one imagines, a dog barking and somebody kicking a bucket - should have been withdrawn by the composer. The fourth premiere is an exuberant and bombastic arrangement of George Gershwin’s Wintergreen for President - that cheekily lampoons all political ambitions.


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 the releases in this splendid Naxos series, Slatkin delivers smiling, unabashed performances full of joie de vivre.

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. A wonderful Anderson tune and a popular hit, the Sandpaper Ballet reminisces over old vaudeville acts when dancers sprinkled sand on the stage during their routines. A Trumpeter’s Lullaby is another lovely piece with the slow lullaby theme contrasted with a much more lively and colourful Latin central episode. The Syncopated Clock is another firm favourite with woodblocks depicting a clock that sometimes ticks on the wrong beats – and it has three terrific melodies in its short two minute span! Serenata is yet another unforgettable Leroy Anderson hit with its sinuous romantic Latin hedonism. And then there is that other terrific, joyful Christmas celebration that is Sleigh Ride with its merry horses’ hooves patterns and whip-cracks.


Additionally, Promenade is a bracing walk, a little pompous but jaunty and memorable. Saraband begins in stately seriousness but high jinks intrude before long. The amusing Old MacDonald Had A Farm begins ostentatiously but soon degenerates into a cacophony of farmyard imitations and cheeky syncopations. Anderson’s arrangement of Willson’s Seventy-Six Trombones adds glamour and colour to the original and Sousa gets a look-in!


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.


Ian Lace


see also Review by John France



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