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Eric COATES (1886-1957)
Sound and Vision

Music for Orchestra
Sound and Vision (ATV March) (1955) [3:28]
From the Countryside - suite (1915) [12:01]
Holborn (March) (1950) [4:07]
Moresque (Dance Interlude) (1921) [3:54]
Four Ways (Suite) (1928) [16:38]
Valse from The Three Bears (Phantasy) (1926) [2:44]
The Eighth Army (March) (1942) [2:52]
Music for Voice and Orchestra
The Mill O'Dreams (song-cycle) (1915) [7:35]
Song of Summer (1943) [2:46]
Your Name (1938) [1:45]
Green Hills of Somerset (1916) [2:22]
I Heard You Singing (1923) [2:48]
The Fairy Tales of Ireland (1918) [3:27]
Bird Songs at Eventide (1926) [2:53]
Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor)
Thomas Allen (baritone)
BBC Concert Orchestra/John Wilson
rec. Colosseum, Town Hall, Watford, 16, 18-19 July, 19 September 2007. DDD
DUTTON EPOCH CDLX 7198 [71:03]


Experience Classicsonline

Coatesians should snap this up without delay. It fills gaps with a consummate sweep.

Sound and Vision concisely sums up Coates’ gift for cock-a-whoop flat-cap jauntiness. There’s even a doff of the ‘titfer’ to Sousa. Compare this with a Coates war-work in the shape of The Eighth Army march. This has the swagger of the common man and rises to magniloquent brass oratory. The pick of the bunch is the cheeky-chattering Holborn March I with clattering polished brogues and a nobilmente lyric. These three are late works with the Coates accent fully formed. They contrast with the more Edward German-indebted From the Countryside. The suite’s finale At the Fair is a typically Mummerset and Morris Dancers romp with nods to Harty’s Irish Symphony and Balfour Gardiner’s Shepherd Fennel. Moresque looks to the exotic Hispano-Moorish accent with plenty of local colour la Massenet and some surprising twists; almost as many as in the even more inventive Eastern Dance from Four Ways. The four movements of the characterful Four Ways suite take their character from the points of the compass. Northwards is a frankly superb aggressive march with hints of Tchaikovsky 5, of Bax’s later Northern Ballad No. 1 and of Harty’s With The Wild Geese. The Three Bears waltz plays beguilingly with a blend of Tchaikovsky and Delius. 

The songs with orchestra include the compact and sentimental cycle The Mill O'Dreams even if the first has the contours of a Stanford song. The whole set, including the charmingly lilting The Man in the Moon, is easy to like even if the tenor here resorts to a vibrato which I find distracting. However he enunciates lucidly and with intelligence. The final song is Blue Bells which takes us into George Butterworth’s contemporary song-cycle Love Blows as the Wind Blows. The limning of the lyrical line by the horns is lovingly done. I should also mention the gorgeous sentimentality of the late song Your Name to words by Christopher Hassall; the same Hassall who provided the libretto for Bliss’s Beatitudes and Mary of Magdala, Walton’s Troilus and Cressida and Malcolm Arnold’s Song of Simeon. Better ye are the four popular songs taken by Sir Thomas Allen even if they are mildly kitschy. Listen to how he spins the word ‘eyes’ at the end of I Heard You Singing. His voice demonstrates an oaken, finely rough-brushed tone and magnificent control. He is sparing with the very novelty accents that these songs tempt to unwise extremes from less thoughtful singers. Here is a baritone who has been blessed with a voice to die for and who has the stewardship to give generously and yet to preserve. These songs were made for him. 

The sung words are not reproduced in the booklet but they can be heard clearly. The notes are by the gifted and generous Stephen Lloyd and they match the exemplary listening experience here on offer.

Rob Barnett


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