Orchestral Light

Telarc CD 80087 Decca 11710
CD 80087 Decca 11710

While not exactly classical, most of what we consider Christmas music was actually written long ago.   Apart from the fact that it is overplayed, Christmas music can be a good start.  I hesitate to recommend any recordings as there are many ao many different styles but I suppose if one wanted to start with something,  the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra playing Christmas favorites might be as good a place as any.   Some would normally tell you to get The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky, but I think it would be best if that put that off until later in this dicussion for a variety of reasons. The primary reason being that I wish to disassociate that work from the holiday of Christmas.

One of the most loved modern composers was Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) He wrote light orchestral music and lyrical instrumentals.  The CD pictured is The Best of Leroy Anderson and I believe you will hear familiar pieces as The Typewriter, Blue Tango, Waltzing Cat, and the once very popular Syncopated Clock. 

The Waltzing Cat is a wonderful bit of music but  discovered it has lyrics!

There once was a tomcat.
A wonderful tomcat
who had all the usual faults.
But this cat was different
and what made him different
was his inclination to waltz.
Each night this feline sir
to his lady love would purr...

I love to waltz - meow
On a night like this with stars in the sky
I love to waltz - meow
As I look into your lovely green eyes
I never knew
What a little waltz would do
Till the night I danced with you
Lightly as a feather
We'll pussyfoot together
I'd love to spend - meow
all my 9 lives just waltzing with you.

See if you can put the words and the music together.  The meow is easy to pick out and makes for a easy marker.  The Waltzing Cat is classed a lyrical instrumental and is a fun bit of music.  I have not met anyone that did not smile upon hearing this piece performed with the lyrics. 

Leroy Anderson also wrote Sleigh Ride which is now a Christmas standard. 

Listen to the entire CD and see if you don't recognize Blue Tango as something you have heard before.  The late Arthur Fiedler, who conducted the Boston Pops Orchestra for many years, considered  Leroy Anderson's Blue Tango his favorite of all the works written by Anderson.

CD 80115 CD 80170
CD 80115 CD 80170

Another series of favorites that I think you will enjoy are the Telarc Spectaculars series.  The titles of these CDs are Symphonic Spectaculars and Orchestral Spectaculars.

I consider both CDs an fun introduction to classical music.