This welcome release includes three compositions by Leonard Slatkin, including Endgames, a showcase for wind instruments “that fall slightly under the orchestral radar”. The terse opening doesn’t anticipate the wit, urbanity and soulfulness that follows and inform this likeable and imaginative piece, which includes quotations from pieces that include solos for instruments such as piccolo, alto flute, E-flat & bass clarinets, and contrabassoon. (Daphnis had to wait Till Mr Schuman called; he was expected at 3 for a Symphony concert, but the knock on the door brought instead a budding Sorcerer on his way to a first lesson.) More here:

Kinah,, is a memorial to Leonard’s parents, violinist Felix and cellist Eleanor (half of the Hollywood Quartet, both have their own solo spot on this Naxos disc, respectively a Hungarian Dance and some Haydn/Korngold), and includes reference to Brahms’s Double Concerto for those instruments. Kinah is a poignant piece, somewhat otherworldly, and very moving.

New to me is The Raven, words by Edgar Allan Poe, spoken on this occasion in true thespian fashion and exemplary enunciation, if without any affectation, by Alec Baldwin, and Slatkin’s use of the orchestra, not least striking (no pun) use of percussion, and horror-movie brass chords, adds loads of atmosphere and description to hold the attention for twenty-six minutes.

Leonard’s son Daniel is represented by In Fields, a fine piece, enough to suggest, when John Williams gives up his cinema ticket, that Daniel could well be his heir. Also included are three of Felix’s light-hearted miniatures, including arrangements by Cindy McTee (Leonard’s wife), of which Wistful Haven is in the Leroy Anderson class. Elsewhere, expect Carmen to dance a hoedown, Bizet collaborating.

Given that Leonard himself is conducting (save the historical tracks!), either in Detroit or at the Manhattan School of Music, the performances may be considered definitive: this attractive Family Affair on Naxos 8.574352.

From the Anderson Archive – No.7 – Hollywood String Quartet & friends record Schoenberg & Schubert for Capitol.