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Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music 1 - Piano Concerto / The Golden Years / Fiddle-Faddle - Jeffrey Biegel, Piano / BBC Concert Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin
Leroy Anderson, Leonard Slatkin, BBC Concert Orchestra
Leroy Anderson: Orchestral Music 1 - Piano Concerto / The Golden Years / Fiddle-Faddle - Jeffrey Biegel, Piano / BBC Concert Orchestra / Leonard Slatkin
Genres: World Music, Special Interest, Classical
 
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

Leroy Anderson etched out his own unique place in American music - a composer rigorously trained in the classical tradition whose records could top the pop charts, a reclusive personality whose compositions became househol...  more »

      
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Album Description
Leroy Anderson etched out his own unique place in American music - a composer rigorously trained in the classical tradition whose records could top the pop charts, a reclusive personality whose compositions became household words, and a meticulous craftsman who could pull one marvelous tune after another out of his hat almost at will. Here, in the first complete cycle of Anderson's orchestral music, the Anderson family has made available several pieces that the composer did not release, with some first recordings scattered among the familiar and not-sofamiliar titles. Volume One closes with Anderson's Piano Concerto which, since its revival in 1989, has been receiving an increasing number of performances.
 

CD Reviews

It's okay, but....
A great fan | USA | 03/12/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)

"Though I greatly applaud Leonard Slatkin for his efforts to record the complete Anderson catalogue, unfortunately, I also take great exception to his-- shall we say-- "deliberate pacing" of each work. I don't think I have heard any of these works performed so slowly, almost to the point of being lifeless-- if such a thing is even possible for any Anderson work.

As an illustration, look at "Fiddle-Faddle." The conductor's score I have in my possession states that the playing time is 3:15. Anderson's own recording comes in at a clipped 3:13, while Fiedler's clocks in at 3:16. Leonard Slatkin's previous recording of the piece (on "The Typewriter" CD) came in at 3:27 and at that I felt it was a bit sluggish. I was shocked when I saw this new recording presented the work at a ponderous 3:43! This wonderful work which in almost all other recordings displays an unbridled expression of joy comes across in this new release as torpid and tepid. The musicians seem to be going through the motions with none of the accompanying emotions. And that's just "Fiddle-Faddle;" the same holds equally true, sad to say, with the majority of the works included in this disk.

This is just the first CD in a proposed 4-CD collection. I just hope Mr. Slatkin gets more into the mood of this project with subsequent releases and pick up the pace."
Fiddle-faddle to you too, sir
Jim Shine | Dublin, Ireland | 01/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Before getting this disc I knew a handful of Anderson's works but nothing here. This album is the first in a projected series of his complete orchestral works, with some premiere recordings promised (on this volume, the Sousa-like Governor Bradford March). My test of a good "light music" disc is, if by the end I don't feel a desperate need to listen to something like Reger's solo viola music then it's a good one. This went down a treat. My own preferences are for the quirkier pieces, the quirkiest of all being The Classical Jukebox, complete with needle-stuck-in-groove effect (which the booklet notes point out will not have any meaning for listeners below a certain age - thanks, make me feel old, why don't you!). But everything is enjoyable here. I didn't warm to the piano concerto at first, largely because I felt Anderson had strayed a bit from his strengths - not out of his depth or anything, just that when you think "piano concerto" the competition is rather strong - but having it on in the background a day later it fitted in nicely with the rest. Unless you really want to get all of Anderson's best-known pieces on one disc, I guess this is as good a place as any to start hearing this entertaining music."
America's Iconic Light Music Composer
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 02/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"To those of us of a certain age, the music of Leroy Anderson represents the ne plus ultra of American light symphonic music. From the mid-1930s on Anderson was encouraged and his music was played frequently by Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops. It wasn't long before his music was being played by practically every ensemble in the country. One of his pieces, 'Blue Tango', even topped the popular hit parade for almost four months in the early 1950s. This CD is said to be the first in a series that will present all of Anderson's extant works, and it contains not only such familiar pieces as 'Fiddle-Faddle', 'Bugler's Holiday', 'Belle of the Ball', 'Blue Tango', and 'The Classical Jukebox' but others that are almost completely unknown, including his only essay in extended form, the Piano Concerto.

Not so well known are 'The First Day of Spring', a delicate dreamlike piece featuring a lovely horn melody, or 'Clarinet Candy', one of a set of pieces (including 'Fiddle-Faddle' and 'Bugler's Holiday') singling out a soloist (or soloists) from the orchestra. The 'Governor Bradford March' is the least Anderson-like piece here; it is a fairly straightforward Sousa-esque march written in honor of a Massachusetts governor in 1948; this is its first recording. 'The Captains and Kings' and 'The Golden Years' are mildly nostalgic (and perhaps ironic) celebrations of time gone by. 'China Doll', 'Arietta', and 'Balladette', those less known, are obviously on first hearing from Anderson's unmistakable pen.

The Piano Concerto, played here by pianist Jeffrey Biegel, has not had much play since its première by Eugene List in 1953. Anderson withdrew it as he was dissatisfied with its first movement. (I frankly think the jazzy fugato in that first movement is one of the best things in it.) He talked of revising it but never did. His widow released it for public performance in 1989 and it has had a few airings since that time. Like all Anderson's music, it is melodic and distinctly American. Slatkin, the BBC Concert Orchestra and Biegel give it a fine performance.

For those of us who have known and loved Anderson's music these past fifty or more years, this CD is self-recommending. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the music here will be ingratiating.

Scott Morrison

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