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Eric COATES (1886-1957)
Suite: The Three Men (1935) [23:19]
Concert Valse: Dancing Night (1932) [8:12]
Two Symphonic Rhapsodies: I Pitch my Lonely Caravan; Birdsongs at Eventide/I Heard You Singing (1933) [5:06; 5:19]
Idyll: Summer Afternoon (1924) [3:53]
Ballet: The Enchanted Garden (1946) [21:11]
Concert Valse: Footlights (1939) [5:50]
Suite: Four Centuries IV Rhythm (20th Century) (1942) [6:57]
March: London Bridge (1934) [4:31]
London Philharmonic Orchestra/Barry Wordsworth
rec. 1990s? DDD
LYRITA SRCD213 [76.19]



Having re-set expectations with the Boult-conducted Coates LP issued in the 1970s, Lyrita in the 1990s seemed determined to consolidate the position with this all-Coates collection.
 
Had it been issued when first recorded it might well have made more impact. As things stand it is still valuable to the many Coates admirers for its idiomatic conducting and its choice of repertoire. It nicely complements two other generous Coates anthologies: Chandos (CHAN9869 - BBCPO/Gamba) (Phantasies: Cinderella; The Selfish Giant; The Three Bears; Miniature Suite; London (London Everyday) Suite; Joyous Youth Suite; The Dam Busters) and Avie  (AV2070 - RLPO/Wilson) (Footlights; The Three Men Suite; The Selfish Giant; London Again Suite; Cinderella Phantasy; Summer Days Suite; Television March). You have the makings of a strong Coates collection if you add to these the Charles Groves 2 CD set on Classics for Pleasure 3523562 and the historic composer-conducted recordings on Living Era-ASV.
 
The Three Men suite instantly establishes the Lyrita credentials with a vivacious, wide-ranging recording delivering an impressive crashing punch across a wide soundstage. The Man from the Country is clearly a vigorous individual while The Man-about-Town movement has something of the calming Sleepy Lagoon about it. The Man from the Sea has a rush and crash about it and its folk music tang places it alongside Holst’s Somerset Rhapsody and Vaughan Williams’ Folk Song Suite and Sea Songs march. The concert valse Dancing Nights has a silvery signature and is flowingly light on its feet. Wordsworth clearly knows his light music stuff. Coates produced a large number of songs and perhaps he had some thoughts of his wife (Phyllis Black’s) singing style when he produced I Pitch my Lonely Caravan, Birdsongs at Eventide and I Heard You Singing. The first of these gets its own symphonic rhapsody which is tempestuous and reflects the Royal Academy allegiance to Tchaikovsky and the exotic Russians. This is torridly alive with Tchaikovskian DNA: Fifth Symphony and Romeo and Juliet. The last two songs share a Symphonic Rhapsody with a chirping and almost Delian repose and that warm birdsong element carries over into the Summer Afternoon Idyll and there rubs shoulders with a more sedate ballroom grandeur. The Enchanted Garden ballet is the latest work here – from 1946. Again there is an impressive Tchaikovskian gilding to this music alongside elements of waltz and foxtrot. It was his longest single movement. Footlights is a concert valse from a year that was otherwise pretty much fallow. It is dreamy, silvery and conveys that floating effortlessness so typical of the Coates magic. In 1941 Stanford Robinson premiered the Four Centuries Suite with the BBC Theatre Orchestra. We get to hear the finale: Rhythm (20th Century) complete with saxophones, jazz and smiling nostalgia that engagingly stays just the right side of queasy. We end with a bang from the cheeky London Bridge – irresistible for those impudently jaunty French Horns – naughty boys every one and once again just catch those Tchaikovskian fingerprints! And as the final pages heave in sight those rolling Sousa-style rowdy horns bring proceedings to an optimistic and red-faced conclusion.
 
This is an engaging companion to Lyrita SRCD246 which has Boult conducting almost 45 minutes worth of Coates. Those Boult recordings were made in 1976.
 
The exemplary and extensive notes are by Coates authority Geoffrey Self.
 
Some of the latest Lyrita discs have kicked over the traces and have actually given us some discographic detail. Not this one: no sign of any date or location for the recordings session(s). I would guess Walthamstow Town Hall, probably 1993. This is one of those recordings that has sat unissued on the shelf for almost one and half decades. There’s more to come.
 
One of the most handsome Coates collections, recorded con amore and performed with idiomatic dedication.
 
Rob Barnett

 

 

 

 

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