I guess that people who are not really interested in ‘light music’
in general or Leroy Anderson in particular will know at least
a couple of his pieces. Surely such numbers as The Typewriter
with its onomatopoeic sounds and the ubiquitous Sleigh Ride
so popular at Christmas-time are well entrenched in the public
collective memory? In fact, many people will know the music but
be unable to name the composer. Of course, Anderson enthusiasts
will have a whole catalogue of favourites that they enjoy time
and time again. Personally, along with the above ‘Seasonal Piece’,
I rate highly the Penny Whistle Song, the Girl in Satin
and the larger but utterly superb Piano Concerto. However,
I feel that even many of the cognoscenti will be unaware of the
composer’s only surviving contribution to Broadway – Goldilocks.
first thing to note is that this musical is hardly likely to
be revived. There was a lot of criticism of the 1958 show at
the time – with most of the ‘brickbats’ being hurled at the
libretto or ‘book’. In fact, listeners must not make the same
mistake as I did and assume that this work is somehow a reworking
of the children’s’ tale of the Three Bears and the eponymous
girl. This is not an Eric Coates-ian fantasy but a work where
the two leads – a man and a woman – ‘launch barbs at each other
while somehow falling in love’. There is a lovely nod to the
nursery tale with a fine showtime song called ‘Who’s been
sitting in My Chair?’. This is characteristically sung by
Kim Criswell with all the panache expected of a Broadway singer.
have provided some eleven excerpts from this show. In some ways,
this is quite different music from the short miniatures that
most people associate with Anderson’s style. If the listener
wants an example, play straightaway the Pirate’s Dance
and hear an almost Star Wars tune!
music gets off to a great start with a fine Overture that
is in the typically Anderson style. The Lazy Moon
is a charming happy tune that will remind many listeners of
the composer’s better known work. In fact it was suggested that
the show should have been called Lazy Moon as being more
appropriate than Goldilocks! William Dazeley and Kim
Criswell then sing a sentimental duet that could well stand
alone – it’s called Save a Kiss. This is pure ‘Friday
Night is Music Night’ music! The intermezzo Pussy Foot
has the pizzazz of the Charleston – transposed to nineteen-fifties
New York. The composer wears his heart on his sleeve for the
lush Lady in Waiting Ballet – all the swirl of a ballroom
dance night at the Waldorf Astoria! It is a superbly orchestrated
piece that is well balanced and tuneful. The baritone sings
a lovely show-time ballad Shall I take My Heart and Go?.
This is an attractive love song - one of the musical’s highlights.
The Town Maxixe is pure Leroy Anderson and swings along
like a carriage and pair. I do not know the context of this
piece, but to my mind it is an afternoon in a horse-drawn landau
in Central Park. The mood then changes to a bluesy I never
knew when which is just a pure romantic dream. The excerpts
from Goldilocks conclude with the Pyramid Dance
– which is meant to be an “Egyptian production number” from
the second act.
should note that Anderson did not orchestrate all the music
for Goldilocks – much of this was done by a certain Philip Lang
– this was standard Broadway practice. However the composer
did orchestrate the Overture, Pussy Foot and the
other major work on this CD is yet another Suite of Carols
– the third of Anderson’s three fine Christmas arrangements.
The first two were for brass and for strings and these have
been issued on previous CDs in the cycle. The present Suite
uses only the orchestral woodwind. These three Suites
were originally issued on a 1955 long-playing album – but were
broken up into pieces where a string carol followed one for
brass and one for woodwind. Even a cursory hearing reveals just
how good an orchestrator Anderson is. Six carols – some favourites-
are featured in a well balanced group. They include:- Angels in Our Fields;
O Sanctissima; O Come, O Come Emmanuel; O Come
Little Children, Coventry Carol and Patapan.
Anderson brings a classical interpretation to these tunes – Mozart
is perhaps more prominent than Gershwin. Although here and there
the odd ‘Leroy’ fingerprint seems to impose itself on the proceedings.
A great piece that deserves to be heard as a unity.
This fine CD concludes with two of Anderson’s own arrangements
of two of his favourite numbers from Goldilocks – the
Lady in Waiting Waltz and an instrumental version of
Shall I take my heart? Both of these are attractive numbers
– but look out for the Richard Straussian allusions in the Waltz
- to Till Eulenspigel and to Der Rosenkavalier.
This is a CD that all enthusiasts of Leroy Anderson will
insist on having in their collections. The music is enthusiastically
As noted above, most of this music is somewhat removed from
the popular impression of his music. But that is quite simply
what this Naxos cycle has been
about – introducing the complete range of the composer’s music
and not just concentrating on the pot-boilers. For this they
are to be congratulated. It is a great achievement.
by Jonathan Woolf
of earlier issues in the Naxos Anderson
Volume 1: JF;
Volume 2: JW;
Volume 3: IL;
Volume 4: IL
Orchestral Favourites: JQ
Classical Juke Box: RB
Irish Rhapsody: IL