From an affluent East
Coast background, Anderson, a Harvard
graduate, studied composition with Enescu
and Piston. Kicking the composer trends
he came from a family who encouraged
his musical talents. His production
of light music standard genre pieces
was phenomenal. A cannily commercial
musician he was effectively the lord
of the American airways during the radio
age. This heyday ran from the 1930s
to the 1960s.
is never in doubt. He can slough composer
skins and change moods with chameleon
fluency and jaguar speed. He shows both
melodic resource and humour. Try the
track that gives the CD its name. In
Classical Juke Box listen to
the 'repeat groove' at 1.32 - a phenomenon
known only to those who experienced
the LP age. Otherwise the music runs
the pastiche range from Wagner to Rossini
to Offenbach. Anderson can also tritsch-tratsch
it with the Straussian best.
Memorable moments abound.
There is the sly smile of The Syncopated
Clock with its wood block ticking.
The Chicken Reel keeps the changes
ringing and rushing along. Fiddle
Faddle recalls the Typewriter
Serenade taken at a downright presto.
Serenata takes us to some soigné
Pasadena roof cafe with glimpses of
Fred and Ginger dancing ‘among the stars’.
Sleigh Ride is
one of Anderson's great hits complete
with its riffling jingle of reindeer
bells and woodblocks. It cross-refers
to Carriage and Pair by Frankel,
Mozart's Schlittenfahrt and Delius's
own Sleigh Ride. It also fits
quite well with Herrmann's music for
the film The Magnificent Ambersons
- redolent of a gracious if unkind
The later tracks on
this disc are commercial and polished
but ultimately not as memorable as Sleigh
Ride and Fiddle Faddle. The
Trumpeter's Lullaby is taken
at too fast a pace to be a convincing
lullaby but it is played quietly; a
Beverley Hills cradling to be sure.
The Irish Suite
is done with chattering élan.
There is flashy flutery from the Bostonian
wind desks. The Minstrel Boy is
done like a mysterious Pilgrims'
March from Mendelssohn's Italian
but with the long curvaceous string
theme of the folk song arching high
and free. The bassoon sings gratefully
in The Rakes of Mallow. The
wearing of the green is taken as
an opportunity for a beautiful pizzicato.
The Hollywood surge and splurge of The
Last Rose of Summer strives for
the key to our tear ducts. The flashy
Bobby Shaftoe-Yankee Doodle
of The Girl I Left Behind Me recalls
similar settings by Roy Harris in Folksong
Symphony and perhaps in Holbrooke's
orchestral variations on the same tune
from circa 1902.
Anderson’s A Christmas
Festival, using carols and
seasonal songs in free-wheeling medley,
cuts a grandiose Handelian dash, revels
in Tchaikovskian serenade and echoes
Ketèlbeyan bells ringing through
the whispered magic of Silent Night
- all most beautifully phrased and
shaped. Anderson will not let us go
without a shindig which he duly delivers
in Jingle Bells. The dignified
Adeste Fideles blazes out the
confident true voice of Christmas over
the top of the commercial chi-chi and
fluff that is Jingle Bells. This
is mammon counterpointed by sincerity.
Most of this on the
positive side. Anderson however takes
none of the risks of his contemporary
Ferdy Grofé. At least on this
showing he was not prepared to extend
into more emotionally probing mood painting.
Arthur Fiedler (1894-1979)
is in his element in this music. He
was a long-lived figure and cut a dashing
and prominent path through the heydays
and autumn era of orchestral light music
in the States.
The disc is well documented.