Leroy Anderson: Blue Tango
Composed in 1951, Leroy Anderson’s’ Blue Tango is perhaps most well-known for being a popular song with original lyrics by Mitchell Parish. Anderson’s original orchestral version, however, is a hidden gem in the world of light orchestral music. Similar in style to other Anderson works such as The Waltzing Cat and The Typewriter, Blue Tango is a caricature of the tango style.
After a marching opening with the strings playing the light theme, the brass and percussion make their opening statement. Anderson uses the woodwind to create decoration around the lyrical string theme. In the background the percussion keep the tango atmosphere alive with Latin rhythms and a pulsating drum beat. As more instruments enter the mix, the melody becomes more ornate and decorated by the woodwind. Anderson’s layering of the voices is typical of this style, with the full orchestral flourish near the end acting as the climax of the piece. The simplicity of the piece is half of the attraction of the piece, with the lightness adding to the charm of Anderson’s keen pen.
Ⓒ Alex Burns