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Leroy Anderson Piano Concerto Goes to Mexico

June 12, 2019 | By Naturally Sharp Inc.

Leroy Anderson's "Concerto in C", composed in 1953, will have its Mexico premiere featuring pianist Jeffrey Biegel and the Orquesta Sinfonica de Xalapa, with guest conductor David Perez Olmedo. Mr. Biegel makes his debut with the Xalapa orchestra at the invitation of Music Director, Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr, pairing the concerto with Frederic Chopin's "Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise".

The Leroy Anderson concerto had its first performance at the Grant Park Music Festival with pianist Eugene List, conducted by the composer, followed with several performances of the concerto shortly thereafter. In celebration of the composer's centennial in 2008, Naxos released the recording of the  concerto featuring Mr. Biegel and Maestro Leonard Slatkin in the first of five recordings of the complete Leroy Anderson catalogue.

Following Mr. Anderson's death, his widow Eleanor Anderson brought the concerto to the attention of conductor Erich Kunzel. Maestro Kunzel performed the concerto on November 6, 1989 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra with pianist William Tritt.

Frank Brieff conducted the Waterbury Symphony Orchestra in the next performances of the concerto on January 25 and January 26, 1991 in Waterbury, Connecticut, also with William Tritt as soloist for both performances. Maestro Kunzel conducted the Cincinnati Pops in three performances of the concerto in Cincinnati, Ohio with pianist Stewart Goodyear on September 10 to 13, 1992.

Erich Kunzel again conducted the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra in a recording of the concerto on September 14, 1992 at Music Hall in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Stewart Goodyear was the soloist for this world première recording, which Telarc released in January 1993.

On June 11, 12 and 13, 1993, Erich Kunzel conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra in the Boston première of the concerto with pianist Michael Chertock. In 1994, Jeffrey Biegel brought the concerto back to the Grant Park Music Festival for its first performance there since 1953, and, in 1995, performed the New York Premiere in Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops conducted by its Founder and Music Director, Skitch Henderson. In 2003, Jeffrey Biegel performed the concerto with the Boston Pops, Keith Lockhart conducting.

From Mr. Henry Fogel, former director of the League of American Orchestras:

Leroy Anderson: An American Treasure, Unjustly Neglected
I rarely use this space to review or report on recordings, but I recently came across one that struck me as important and noteworthy in many ways. It is Naxos's Volume One of the orchestral music of Leroy Anderson. Leonard Slatkin leads energetic, committed performances of a wide range of Anderson works, and Slatkin and pianist Jeffrey Biegel team up to show us that Anderson was capable of writing a fine Piano Concerto, one that deserves to be more widely known than it currently is.
But what makes this disc stand out for me is that it points out how little attention the American musical community has given to one of its own giants, just because his music fell into that uncomfortable area between "popular" and "classical." (God, how I hate those terms.) Leroy Anderson was a genius, as this disc amply demonstrates. He worked on a remarkable level of melodic inspiration, tunes pouring out of him like water out of a fountain. He wrote what we today call "pops" repertoire - much of it for Arthur Fiedler and his Boston Pops.
Other countries treat their composers of lighter music with much greater respect--whether it is Johann Strauss Jr. in Austria or Hans Christian Lumbye in Denmark, to give just two examples. There is a place in the repertoire for music of a lighter nature. But we're so damned serious in our concert life, so vested in making every concert an "artistic experience at the highest level," that we've neglected one of America's true originals.
Fortunately, 2008 is Anderson's centennial year, so his music is likely to get some attention. He wrote only one extended-length work, and that is the Piano Concerto heard on this disc (Naxos 8.559313, for those of you who still collect recordings, as I do). The work was premiered by the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago, under Anderson's baton with Eugene List as soloist, in 1953. It got mixed reviews both there and in a subsequent performance in Cleveland, and Anderson withdrew it. He intended to revise it, but never did, though toward the end of his life he is reported to have found himself coming around to the piece again. After his death, his widow Eleanor Anderson decided to release it in its original form, and Jeffrey Biegel is one of its main proponents now. One wishes that the critics had been more open to this tuneful, colorful piece--perhaps Anderson would have been encouraged to write more music in larger forms.
But no matter. We shouldn't fall into the trap of diminishing the importance of Anderson just because most of his pieces are three or four minutes long, tuneful, and toe-tappingly rhythmic. The one American composer in this vein whom we seem to have treated well is John Philip Sousa. Perhaps Anderson's time is finally coming. This disc shows that he is a true American treasure, and great fun to listen to.


Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, Erich Kunzel, conductor
Stewart Goodyear, pianist
September 14, 1992
Music Hall, Cincinatti, Ohio

Toronto Symphony Orchestra, members of; Skitch Henderson, conductor
Catherine Wilson, pianist
September, 1999
Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario
Spy Recordings SRCD-1001; Aureole Classics ACCD-1001

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, Paul Mann, conductor
Simon Tedeschi, pianist
February 17 to 21 in 2003
Iwaki Auditorium, Southbank Centre,
Melbourne, Australia
ABC Classics (Australia) 476-158-9

BBC Concert Orchestra, Leonard Slatkin conductor
Jeffrey Biegel, pianist
April 24 25, 2006
The Colosseum, Town Hall, Waterford, UK
Naxos 8.559313ágica-de-schubert.html





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