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Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
Orchestral Music - Volume 4
Irish Suite (1947/49) [19:37]
Summer Skies (1953) [3:53]
Scottish Suite * (1954) [10:26]
Blue Tango (1951) +1 [2:37]
Forgotten Dreams (arr. Robert Wendell) +1 (1962) [2:51]
Belle of the Ball + 1,2 (1951/59) [3:12]
Alma Mater (1954) [6:30]
A Christmas Festival (1950) [9:10]
Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)
To A Wild Rose (orch. Leroy Anderson) (1970) [2:11]
Kim Criswell 1 (soprano); William Dazeley 2 (baritone)
BBC Concert Orchestra/Leonard Slatkin
rec. The Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, UK, 3-5 September 2007
World Premiere Recording; * World Premiere of complete suite; + World premiere recording of version for voice and orchestra
NAXOS 8.559381 [60:26] 


Experience Classicsonline

This CD is the fourth volume in the Naxos ‘Leroy Anderson Orchestral Music’ series. Reviews of Volumes 1, 2 and 3 can be found on the site. There has also been a Favourites disc. The present volume includes, as you can see from the header, five world premiere recordings. Three of these are Anderson favourites but with vocals. The Blue Tango - “… a thrilling melody of love …” is just so as Kim Criswell so enticingly sings “… hold me tight in your arms tonight …” She follows, in gentler romantic mood with Forgotten Dreams: “… they keep returning, the years of yearning, no matter how you try, forgotten dreams won’t die …” She is joined by William Dazeley for the dazzling Belle of the Ball: “…it is no wonder the whole world is under the spell of the Belle of the Ball …” If my memory serves me well, both singers deliver these songs appropriately in the style of the 1950s. 

Leroy Anderson’s orchestration adds sweet sentimentality to MacDowell’s well-known To A Wild Rose. Another premiere is the composer’s own hazy, lazy evocation of Summer Skies prolonging the mood of gentle, genial nostalgia. The fifth world premiere is of the complete Scottish Suite in four movements: the first of which is the galloping/hunting-like ‘Bonnie Dundee’ which is succeeded by the charming waltz that is ‘Turn Ye to Me’. The third movement ‘Bluebells of Scotland’ is a breezy, almost baroque rendering of the famous tune; then it is all processional pomp with snare drums beating a rather cheeky version of ‘The Campbells Are Coming’. 

Complementing the Scottish Suite, is the more substantial and colourful six-movement Irish Suite, full of Irish whimsy. Each movement has imaginative arrangements of six well known ditties: a racy ‘The Irish Washerwoman’; a stirring and affecting ‘The Minstrel Boy’; a perky and cheeky ‘The Rakes of Mallow’; a breezy ‘The Wearing of the Green’ with interesting use of string pizzicato; a lushly romantic ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ with a lovely solo violin by Cynthia Fleming; and the high-spirited ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me’.


Anderson’s less than venerable portrait of the great American institute of learning; Harvard Sketches, originally composed in 1939 and featured in Volume III of this Naxos series, is revisited here in the 1950 revision. Renamed Alma Mater, the same material is, if anything, saucier, its humour broader and irreverent; yet there is an unmistakable vein of nostalgic affection too - great fun. Interestingly, the final ebullient ‘Class Reunion’ movement is very reminiscent of the style of Anderson’s English equivalent, Eric Coates.


Christmas works were featured in Volumes II and III of this Naxos series and this volume closes with Leroy Anderson’s glittering concert overture, A Christmas Festival. Once again his imaginative arrangements of popular Christmas carols lifts them to an altogether different level.

This fourth volume may seem to be mainly something of a gathering in of less well-known material and unusual, long-forgotten vocal arrangements of a few favourite pieces. Nevertheless they are delivered with such enthusiasm and joie de vivre, that this latest collection is irresistible.


Ian Lace



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