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Leroy ANDERSON (1908-1975)
Sleigh Ride [3:06]
Blue Tango [3:01]
Trumpeter’s Lullaby [3:00]
The Belle of the Ball [2:58]
Bugler’s Holiday [2:41]
Forgotten Dreams [2:21]
Syncopated Clock [2:32]
Plink, Plank, Plunk [2:40]
Fiddle Faddle [3:43]
Sandpaper Ballet [3:40]
The Typewriter [1:48]
Song of the Bells [3:44]
Jazz Pizzicato [1:42]
Utah Symphony Orchestra/Maurice Abravanel
rec. 1967, Salt Lake City, Utah VANGUARD CLASSICS OVC1043 [45:48]
I think I’m right in saying that this was the first LP devoted wholly to the music of Leroy Anderson by a front-rank orchestra and conductor. It was entrusted to the Utah Symphony under the redoubtable – and stylistically flexible – Maurice Abravanel in 1967 and recorded at its base in Salt Lake City. This Vanguard Classics release is a CD clone of that original disc, though the printing of both CD and booklet is very slightly second-generation. Omega, the parent group company, has in any case reissued it before.
That’s what you’re getting with this 45-minute Super Bit Mapping transfer which contains 15 examples of elevated Andersonia. It’s not always pertinent to rank Abravanel against the likes of such distinguished practitioners of this repertoire as the two Fs - Fennell and Fiedler – and one can happily enjoy these Big Band interpretations on their own terms. They give all sections of the Utah band the chance to shine. The bold brass section can be savoured in Sleigh Ride, the zippy Bugler’s Holiday, and William Sullivan in particular shines in Trumpeter’s Lullaby. Meanwhile another of the orchestra’s principals, flautist Eugene Foster, has his moment in the evocative, leisurely Forgotten Dreams.
Most of these titles are well-known and some are outright classics – into the latter category fall Syncopated Clock, The Typewriter and the album’s title track, Fiddle Faddle. Stereo spatiality tracks left-to-right in The Typewriter as it does its business – which must have been fun for denizens in their music cribs in the late 1960s and it’s still fun today. Remember carriage release? Sarabande is lightly spiced with ersatz Baroquerie and the orchestra’s strings are on the button when required to espouse pizzicati, which they do in Plink, Plank, Plunk and Jazz Pizzicato. To end there is the slinky, but not sultry, Serenata.
If some subsequent performances have been rhythmically sharper than these, that does not detract in any way from Abravanel’s lucid, affectionate and lively way with Anderson’s music.