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Eric COATES (1886-1957)
Coates Conducts Coaates
Various orchestras/Eric Coates
rec. 1926-1957
NIMBUS RECORDS NI7106 [78:24 + 79:34]

This is a two CD compilation of the seven CD set The Definitive Eric Coates, His finest recordings 1926-1957, which was issued by Nimbus (NI6231) in 2013 and saw the remastering of all 78 and LP commercial recordings made by Eric Coates conducting his own compositions.

Ever since I came across Coates a couple of years ago I have been very fond of his music, but I have not yet had the pleasure of listening to him conducting his own pieces. Although the Charles Mackerras recordings are very well and enjoyable, these remastered records are a real treat, partly for Coates’ brisk and spirited conducting, but also because they retain – despite sound engineering – the acoustic charm of old gramophone records.

Of all the hidden gems that are to be discovered among British light music, Coates must surely be the most shining – and rightly so. His music is not just meant to entertain as a signature tune for the wireless or an accompaniment for films, and neither does it confine itself to conventions of classical composition. It is constantly aware of its own time, making ample use of contemporary instruments and swingy rhythms (e.g. the Saxo-Rhapsody) and at times adventurous and sophisticated harmonies. All of this does not only blend with the classical score but creates something new and unique, a real Coates feeling: Truly unrivalled swing era classical music. Unfortunately, British light music has rather unreasonably fallen into neglect over the last 50 odd years. It is deplorable how few of my own generation (i.e. under 30) have ever come across Coates or indeed listened to his music – the figure is of course even smaller for foreign-born chaps such as me...

This CD set comes with a brief booklet which contains a very interesting short article about “Eric Coates and the Gramophone” by Michael Payne, in which we learn – amongst other things – that Edward Elgar was very fond of Coates’ music, having worn out the record of his Summer Days Suite. However, with the reduction to “the best” in the present compilation, booklet and background information are unfortunately also much shorter and only provide a superficial insight (if that is possible). Although this CD features Coates’ most popular compositions, some lesser known ones (e.g. Last Love or A Song of Loyalty) are also included and whet the appetite for more – and plenty more there is, as The Definite Eric Coates comprises nearly nine hours of glorious music.

Coates celebrated his first success in his early 30s with Summer Days for piano (1919). The rise of the BBC (radio and later TV) secured him an excellent way forward, his unique style eventually becoming an intrinsic part of the British interwar Zeitgeist. This may have continued for a couple of years after WWII, or at least tried to reconnect with its former glory, but Coates’ death in 1957 marked the very end of this era. More than 60 years since, I think it is time for a revival and reappraisal of Eric Coates, and British light music in general. So far, important work has been done in other fields of British music, for instance the reassessing of Sir Arthur Sullivan’s output and his merits as serious composer. As a logic consequence, at least some of what has more often than not been derogatory referred to as light music (as compared to serious music, and new serious music, and serious new music – whichever new music, seriously…) is now more than due to find appreciation in its own right. And what better way than starting with Eric Coates? Count me in!

Maximilian Burgdörfer
CD1 78.24
1. The Merrymakers - Overture (1923) 4.29
London Symphony Orchestra 03/11/1931
2. At The Dance 3.51
New Queen's Hall Light Orchestra 24/08/1926
3. No.1 The Princess Arrives - March (1932) 3.08
4. No.4 The Dance Of The Orange Blossoms - Valse (1932) 3.10
Symphony Orchestra 05/05/1934
5. In The Country - Rustic Dance 3.20
6. A Song By The Way - Romance 4.10
7. Evening In Town - Valse 4.27
London Symphony Orchestra 03/11/1931
8. Cinderella - Phantasy (1929) 12.54
London Philharmonic Orchestra 04/03/1935
9. For Your Delight - Serenade (1937) 4.07
Light Symphony Orchestra 24/09/1937
10. Last Love - Romance (1939) 4.01
Light Symphony Orchestra 31/01/1940
11. Saxo-Rhapsody (1936) 8.53
London Symphony Orchestra
Sigurd Rascher (Alto Saxophone) 15/01/1937
12. Calling All Workers - March (1940) 3.06
Symphony Orchestra 27/08/1940
13. Dancing Nights - Concert Valse (1931) 6.55
London Symphony Orchestra 03/10/1945
14. The Three Bears - A Phantasy (1926) 8.59
15. London Calling - March (1941) 2.57
London Symphony Orchestra 19/07/1946

CD2 79.34
1. London Bridge - March (1934) 4.15
London Symphony Orchestra 19/07/1946
2. A Song Of Loyalty (Orchestral) (1935) 3.26
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
3. By The Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade (1930) 3.21
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
4. Bird Songs At Eventide (arranged H.M. Higgs) 3.16
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
5. Television March (1946) 3.26
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
6. Wood Nymphs - Valsette (1917) 3.16
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
7 London Suite - Knightsbridge March (1932) 3.03
New Symphony Orchestra 02/07/1948
8. Mayfair - Valse 4.23
New Symphony Orchestra 09/10/1948
9. The Man From The Country 4.16
10. The Man About Town 4.44
11. The Man From The Sea 4.29
New Symphony Orchestra 16/07/1949
12. Springtime In Angus - Elizabeth Of Glamis 7.12
New Symphony Orchestra of London 03-04/02/1953
13. High Flight - March (1957) 2.56
14. Impression of a Princess - Intermezzo (1956) 3.05
Eric Coates and his Orchestra 16/08/19 57
15. Prelude & Hornpipe - 17th Century 6.27
16. Pavane & Tambourin - 18th Century 5.59
17. Valse - 19th Century 4.45
18. Rhythm - 20th Century 4.22
New Symphony Orchestra of London 03-04/02/1953
19. The Dam Busters - March (1954) 2.58
Concert Orchestra 1955



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