Leroy Anderson: The Waltzing Cat
Composed in 1950, Leroy Anderson’s light orchestral piece The Waltzing Cat is among a collection of his most charming works. The Boston Pops Orchestra performed the piece first as part of a recording that Anderson had set up in September 1950. In the programme notes for The Waltzing Cat Anderson writes:
“For the last number on this programme you will hear ‘The Waltzing Cat’. If, as you listen to the music, you imagine something like Puss in Boots at a fancy dress ball, that is just about what I had in mind.”
As with many of Anderson’s short light orchestral works, there is a fully-realised character throughout the piece. Anderson’s extensive use of percussion is also a highlight of the piece, especially in the central section that sees whistle slides, wood blocks and triangles used. Set in a waltz style, The Waltzing Cat opens with a string introduction before the main melody begins.
The percussion helps keep time here, with the strings and woodwind interlocking themes. The tempo picks up somewhat as the music heads into the central section. There are also more percussion and brass parts here to signify the shift in the theme. A sweet woodwind and percussion interlude ensues, with the comedic whistle slide and woodblock leading the way.
A short reprise of the opening material leads the orchestra back into the main theme of the piece. Again led by the strings, the woodwinds decorate the melody more for this last time. There is a sense of warmth in the way Anderson writes the concluding section as the ensemble comes together for the final comedic flourish.
Leroy Anderson’s The Waltzing Cat is comedic, light-hearted and a very easy listen. It firmly sits in Anderson’s light orchestral archive as one of his most popular works.
Ⓒ Alex Burns