A complete Leroy Anderson is like a complete Johann Strauss or Albert Ketelbey...overdue and extremely welcome. And with someone like Leonard Slatkin, who has more cred at this stuff than anyone except Arthur Fiedler, you ordinarily would have to give Naxos' Anderson survey top marks. And the five-disc set deserves them, but unfortunately, there are Anderson's own recordings with his orchestra, not to mention Fiedler and the Boston Pops, so one star is withheld for the comparison. The Anderson recording of his smash hit "Blue Tango" just has more verve than Slatkin's Britishers seem to be able to give it, and Naxos doesn't seem to give the effects in "The Typewriter" and other such pieces a satisfying presence in comparison.
However, there are plenty of pluses...his piano concerto, the complete "Scottish Suite," all of his "Harvard" potpourris, and "Goldilocks" with voices. And the crown jewels of the assortment: All of Anderson's Christmas medleys. Few listeners realize that he did THREE of them beyond the much-played "A Christmas Festival" of 1950--one each for brass, woodwinds, and strings (all longer than the one for full orchestra); the last (on Vol. 2) being arguably the most beautiful (of any Christmas recording). If you just want to get your feet wet, go with Fiedler, who recorded 14 selections, or Anderson, who committed 47 (about 40% of his output, in mono) to disc. For for the full experiences--and there are some surprises here, particularly among the arrangements of Handel, Gershwin, and Meredith Willson--go with all five Slatkin CDs.