This is one of the most popular classical pieces for children. While it is short, not beginning to approach the scope or length of such children's classics as Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf, it is nonetheless an appealing, deftly wrought creation. It contains numerous sonic effects -- sleigh bells, bird calls, and other colorful sounds tossed in by modern conductors -- the whole yielding a charming two minutes' worth of sprightly, peppery music that adults -- not just children -- will find a pleasant, maybe even invigorating and imaginative diversion.
Musical Sleigh Ride opens with a jaunty theme -- which will dominate the piece -- played by the small string orchestra, immediately establishing a festive, utterly exhilarating mood. Notes bounce vigorously in their playful insistence, and rhythms are steady but deftly yield an elastic character in the ecstatic outbursts that occur midway through. The percussive and sonic effects add to the sense of color, and the music's drive imparts an almost breathless feeling to the pacing. The listener might well notice the influence of Vivaldi in the work, the influence of Italian music in general: but that quality was hardly rare in light German music of the day. Whatever its derivations, whatever its nationalistic colors, the piece is pure fun and brims with infectious music.