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Eric COATES (1886-1957)
The Definitive Eric Coates - Eric Coates conducts his own compositions
All of his commercially released recordings 1923-1957 plus bonus CD of Eric Coates compositions conducted by others.
Details reproduced in the Track Listing at the end of this review.
NIMBUS NI 6231 [7 CDs: 08:50:00] 

It is hardly an exaggeration to say that during the period between the mid-1930s and the mid-1950s no day would go by without at least one piece of music penned by Eric Coates - the ‘Uncrowned King of Light Music’ - being broadcast. In fact, in his erudite notes to this new set, Michael Payne, author of the newly published The Life and Music of Eric Coates (Ashgate Press) recalls, for instance, that Coates’ march Calling All Workers was selected to be the signature tune of the popular BBC radio programme ‘Music While You Work’ At the height of World War II there were three editions of the programme a day with the march opening and closing each programme. Furthermore Coates’ By the Sleepy Lagoon still introduces BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ after seventy years … but then so many other radio and television programmes included music by Coates. One wonders, does this superbly crafted music, so full of vitality and romance appeal to audiences below the age of say sixty. This despite the sterling work of several young people like Michael Payne and especially the conductor John Wilson?
 
Both Nimbus and Alan Bunting, who was responsible for the restorations and re-masterings, are to be congratulated on compiling such a comprehensive survey of the work of Eric Coates as conductor. Like a number of other composers working in the first half of the 20th Century, including Elgar and Walton to name only two, Coates regularly worked in the recording studios - in his case in both EMI and Decca facilities.
 
First I must play devil’s advocate and remind readers of two 2-CD sets devoted to Eric Coates conducting his own music. These were released by the late-lamented Conifer label in 1994 (‘The Music of Eric Coates’ on CDHD 211-212) and 1996 (‘The Three Elizabeths’ - The Music of Eric Coates’ on 7560552390 2A-2B). The 1994 compilations were transferred from collections by enthusiasts: Malcolm Walker, Hugh Palmer and Roger Beardsley. The re-mastering engineer for the 1996 release was Ted Kendall. A total of 77 music tracks are available on these two Conifer sets. Both the Conifer and Nimbus collections commence with the HMV 2449, 1931 recording of Eric Coates’s The Merrymakers Overture. I listened to both for comparison. The Conifer transfer is very good; it has immediacy and a good dynamic range, a solid base end. The new Nimbus transfer is splendid too but to my ears just lacks the punch and sparkle of the Conifer.
 
While carping I must also express my disappointment about the content of the Nimbus bonus disc. While I realise there could have been difficulties in rights possessions between Dutton Vocalion and Nimbus, I sadly missed any recorded performance of Eric Coates’s music by his great friend and champion, Stanford Robinson. Speaking of Stanford Robinson, we are indebted to him for recording what many call Coates’ masterpiece, his extended composition The Enchanted Garden - ballet music for a ballet that has never, to the best of my knowledge, been staged. What a shame that Coates never recorded this delightful work. By the way he was a very fine conductor and took his works at a brisk pace - he always frowned on conductors who dragged out his music - and was unashamed to point up their romantic elements.
 
The contents of these seven discs set out at the foot of this review will be critical in selling this set without any blandishments from myself. Clearly I could not hope to cover all the works in this set otherwise this review would be tediously long. So I will just mention a few, that have always resonated for me. The Marches must be included especially The Knightsbridge March that really put the composer on the map when it was chosen to introduce the popular radio series, ‘In Town Tonight’ and at the other end of a lifetime’s work The Dam Busters March used in the famous film. Of the many marches here there are so many that impress and stir the blood - of the London settings - London Bridge and Oxford Street, then there is Music Everywhere - The Rediffusion March. I can think of how The Three Elizabeths music was such an inspired choice for two programmes: for the 1960s - the black and white BBC TV production of ‘The Forsyte Saga’ and the sublime middle section of Elizabeth of Glamis as used for BBC Radio’s ‘Myself and Music’. The Merrymakers Overture will always be a favourite of mine, similarly Cinderella,the Saxo-Rhapsody, played by Sigurd Rascher here, and that marvellous ‘Rhythm’ movement that ends The Four Centuries Suite - a work that almost brought a BBC Promenade Concert to a standstill. I must also add those lovely nostalgic middle movements of the two London Suites for Westminster - Meditation and Langham Place - Elegy

Having disparaged the Bonus CD somewhat, I should add that it does contain some valuable material not covered in the preceding 6 CDs. Notably there are three early works: From The Countryside Suite, the Miniature Suite and the Joyous Youth plus The Four Ways Suite from 1927.
 
An unmissable bargain for Coates fans and, it is to be hoped, an introduction to younger generations of music-lovers, especially those who appreciate first class tunes.  

Ian Lace  
 
Valuable Coates links
Coates on MusicWeb International
Coates in Sussex - Ian Lace
Coates and Elgar - Ian Lace
Coates -Philip Scowcroft
  
 
Track-Listing - Overview
 
CD 1 - 1931-1937 [78.08]
1. The Merrymakers - Overture 4:21 2. From Meadow to Mayfair - Suite 11.35 3. Summer Afternoon - Idyll 3:28 4. Cinderella - Phantasy 12:46 5. By The Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade 4:36 6. The Jester At The Wedding : No.1 The Princess Arrives - March 3:00 7. By The Tamarisk - Intermezzo 4:13 8. Saxo-Rhapsody 8:46 9. Summer Days - Suite 8.07 10. Springtime - Suite 12.20 11. For Your Delight - Serenade 4:00
 
CD 2 - 1940-1948 [77.57]
1. Footlights - Concert Valse 4:17 2 . Last Love - Romance 3:54 3 . The Seven Seas - March 3:14 4. I Sing To You (A Souvenir) 3:17 5. Calling All Workers - March 2:59 6. Fanfare Number 1 0:18 7. Salute the Soldier - March 3:22 8. Fanfare Number 2 0:26 9. The Eighth Army March 2:37 10. The Four Centuries - Suite 17.24 11. The Three Elizabeths - Suite 18.06 12. Dancing Nights - Concert Valse 6:48 13. London Calling - March 2:55 14. London Bridge - March 4:05 15. London Suite - Knightsbridge March 2:56
 
CD 3 - 1948-1955 [78.33]
1. A Song Of Loyalty 3:19 2. By The Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade 3:15 3. Bird Songs At Eventide 3:08 4 . Television March 3:19 5. Wood Nymphs - Valsette 3:09 6. London - Suite 13.27 7. London Again - Suite 12.51 8. The Three Men - Suite 13.28 9. The Jester At The Wedding : No.4 - Dance Of The Orange Blossoms 3:45 10. Music Everywhere - Rediffusion March 2:57 11. The Dam Busters - March 2:56 12. Sound And Vision The A.T.V. Television March 3:00
 
CD 4 - 1952-1957 [78.29]
1. High Flight - March 2:49 2. Impression of a Princess - Intermezzo 2:58 3. Wood Nymphs - Valsette 2:46 4. South Wales and West - Television March 2:47 5. London - Suite 13.18 6. London Again - Suite 12.00 7. The Three Elizabeths - Suite 19.09 8. The Four Centuries - Suite 20.25
 
CD 5 - Early records [72.05]
1. Summer Days - Suite 0.00 2. Wood Nymphs - Valsette 3:01 3. With A Song In My Heart. Symphonic Rhapsody after Richard Rodgers 7:47 4. Bird Songs at Eventide 4:01 5. I Pitch My Lonely Caravan At Night 4:11 6. I Heard You Singing & Bird Songs At Eventide - Symphonic Rhapsody 4:03 7. London - Suite 8.08 8. London Bridge - March 3:07 9. The Jester At The Wedding : No.1 - The Princess Arrives - March 3:21 10. The Jester At The Wedding : No.4 The Dance Of The Orange Blossoms 3.03 11. The Three Men - Suite 12.12 12. Wood Nymphs - Valsette 3:18 13. Song Of Loyalty (The Prayer Within Our Hearts) 4:16
 
CD 6 - Early and Acoustic records [70.25]
1. Meadow To Mayfair Suite : No.2 4:03 2. London Again - Suite 11.28 3. By The Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade 3:20 4. The Three Bears - A Phantasy 8:52 5. London Suite - Knightsbridge March 4:01 6. Television March 3:20 7. Valse From The Phantasy “The Three Bears” 3:07 8. The Merrymakers - Overture 4:06 9. Moresque Dance - Interlude 3:37 10. Joyous Youth - Suite 11.33 11. Summer Days Suite : At The Dance 3:59 12. The Selfish Giant - A Phantasy (arr. Lucas) 8:06
 
Bonus CD 7 - 1918-1955 [74.33]
Performances of works which Coates did not record himself alongside alternative and famous performances by other conductors. Including The Peerless Orchestra, Clarence Raybould, Charles Williams, Jack Hylton, Joseph Lewis, RAF Central Orchestra, Sidney Torch, Robert Farnon, and the Central Band of the Royal Air Force.  
Track-Listing - Detail 
CD 1 - 78.08 (1923-1937)
1) The Merrymakers Overture (1923) [4.21] rec. 1931+
From Meadow to Mayfair Suite (1931) [11.35] rec. 1931+:-
2) In the Country - Rustic Dance [3.12]
3) A Song By the Way - Romance [4.03]
4) Evening in Town - Valse [4.20]
5) Summer Afternoon - Idyll (1931) [3.28] rec. 1934 *
6) Cinderella - Phantasy (1929) [12.46] **
7) By the Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade extended version (1930) [4.36] rec. 1935 **
8) The Jester at the Wedding (‘The Princess Arrives’) - March (1932) [3.00] rec. 1934 *
9) By the Tamarisk - Intermezzo (1927) [4.13] rec. 1936 **
10) Saxo-Rhapsody (1936) [8.46] with Sigurd Rascher (alto saxophone) rec. 1937 ***
Summer Days Suite (1937) [8.17] rec. 1937 ***
11) In a Country Lane [2.06]
12) On the Edge of a Lake [2.19]
13) At the Dance [3.42]
Springtime Suite (1937) [12.20] rec 1937 #
14) Fresh Morning - Pastorale [4.01]
15) Noonday Song - Romance [4.17] 
16) Dance in the Twilight - Valse [4.02]
17) For Your Delight - Serenade (1937) [4.00] rec. 1937 #
+ London Symphony Orchestra
* Symphony Orchestra (unidentified) ** Symphony Orchestra (actually London Philharmonic Orchestra) *** Symphony Orchestra (actually London Symphony Orchestra)
+ London Symphony Orchestra; # Light Symphony Orchestra  
CD 2 -77.57
1) Footlights - Concert Waltz (1939) [4.17] rec. 1940 #
2) Last Love - Romance (1939) [3.54] rec. 1940 #
3) The Seven Seas March (later retitled ‘South Wales & West) (1937) [3.14] rec. 1940 #
4) I Sing to You (A Souvenir) (1940) [3.17] rec. 1940 #
5) Calling All Workers March (1940) [2.59] rec. 1940 *
6) Fanfare No. 1 (1943) [0.18] rec. 1944 +
7) Salute the Soldier - March (1944) [3.22] rec. 1944 +
8) Fanfare No. 2 (1943) [0.26] rec. 1944 +
9) The Eighth Army March (1942) [2.37] rec. 1944 +
The Four Centuries Suite (1941) [18.04] rec. 1944 ♪
10) Prelude & Hornpipe - 17thCentury [4.21]
11) Pavane & Tambourin - 18thCentury [4.46]
12) Valse - 19thCentury [4.41]
13) Rhythm - 20thCentury [4.16]
The Three Elizabeths Suite (1944) [17.49] rec.1944 ♪
14) Halcyon Days - Elizabeth Tudor [6.35]
15) Springtime in Angus -Elizabeth of Glamis, The Queen Mother [6.37]
16) Youth of Britain (March) - The Princess Elizabeth [4.34]
17) Dancing Nights - Concert Valse (1931) [6.48] rec. 1945 +
18) London Calling -March (1941) [2.55] rec. 1946 +
19) London Bridge - March (1934) [4.05] rec. 1946 +
20) London Suite - Knightsbridge March (Abridged Version) (1932) [2.56] rec. 1948
+ London Symphony Orchestra; # Light Symphony Orchestra * Symphony Orchestra (unidentified) ♪ The National Symphony Orchestra  
CD 3 - 78.33
1) A Song of Loyalty (Orchestral Version) (1935) [3.19] rec. 1948
2) By the Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade (1930) [3.15] rec. 1948
3) Bird Songs at Eventide (arranged by H. M. Higgs) [3.08] rec. 1948
4) Television March (1946) [3.19] rec. 1948
5) Wood Nymphs - Valsette (1917) [3.09] rec. 1948
London Suite (1932) [13.27]
6) Covent Garden - Tarantelle [4.43]
7) Westminster - Meditation [4.29]
8) Knightsbridge - March [4.15]
London Again Suite (1936) [12.51]
9) Oxford Street (March) [3.31]
10) Langham Place - Elegy [5.04]
11) Mayfair - Valse [4.16]
The Three Men Suite (1935) [13.08] rec. 1949
12) The Man From the Country [4.09]
13) The Man About Town [4.37]
14) The Man From the Sea [4.22]
15) The Jester at the Wedding No. 4 Dance of the Orange Blossoms (1932) [3.45] rec. 1949
16) The Three Bears - A Phantasy (1926) [9.14] rec. 1949
17) Music Everywhere - Redifussion March (1948) [2.57] rec. 1949
18) The Dam Busters March (1954) [2.56] rec. 1955
19) Sound And Vision - The A.T.V. Television March (1955) [3.00] rec. 1955
All recordings on CD3 made with The New Symphony Orchestra except Music Everywhere with Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra; and The Dam Busters and the Sound and Vision March with a Concert Orchestra
 
CD 4 - 78.29
1) High Flight - March (1957) [2.49] rec. 1957 *
2) Impression of a Princess - Intermezzo (1956) [2.58] rec. 1957 *
3) Wood Nymphs - Valsette (1917) [2.46] rec. 1957 *
4) South Wales & West - Television March (1937 [2.47] rec,. 1957 *
London Suite (1932) [13.18] rec. 1952 ♪
5) Covent Garden - Tarantelle [4.41]
6) Westminster - Meditation [4.25]
7) Knightsbridge - March [4.12]
London Again Suite (1936) [12.40] rec. 1952 ♪
8) Oxford Street - March [3.29]
9) Langham Place - Elegy [4.59]
10) Mayfair - Valse [4.12]
The Three Elizabeths Suite (1944) [18.49] rec. 1953 +
11) Halcyon Days - Elizabeth Tudor [7.23]
12) Springtime in Angus - Elizabeth of Glamis [7.05]
13) Youth of Britain - March - The Princess Elizabeth [4.41]
The Four Centuries - Suite (1941) [21.05] rec. 1953 +
14) Prelude & Hornpipe - 17th Century [6.19]
15) Pavane & Tambourin - 18th Century [5.53]
16) Valse - 19th Century [4.38]
17) Rhythm - 20th Century [4.15]
* Eric Coates and His Orchestra ♪ Philharmonic Promenade Orchestra (actually a section of the London Philharmonic) + New Symphony Orchestra of London  
CD 5 [72.05]
Summer Days - Suite (1919) [9.53] rec. 1926 +
1) In A Country Lane [2.43]
2) On the Edge of the Lake (Isle of the Waters) [3.26]
3) At the Dance [3.44]
4) Wood Nymphs [3.01] +
5) With A Song In My Heart (Symphonic Rhapsody after Richard Rogers) (1930) [7.47] rec. 1930. ♪
6) Bird Songs at Eventide (1926) with vocalist Billy Scott-Coomber and Jack Payne and his Band [4.01] rec. 1932
7) I Pitch My Lonely Caravan at Night - Symphonic Rhapsody (1932) [4.11] rec.1933 *
8) I Heard You Singing & Bird Songs At Eventide - Symphonic Rhapsody (1932) [4.03] rec. 1933 *
London Suite (1932) [13.18] rec. 1933 *
9) Covent Garden - Tarantelle [4.41]
10) Westminster - Meditation [4.25]
11) Knightsbridge - March [4.12]
12) London Bridge - March (1934) [3.07] **
13) The Jester at the Wedding: No. 1 The Princess Arrives (1932) [3.21] rec. 1935 *
14) The Jester at the Wedding: No. 4 The Dance of the Orange Blossoms - Valse (1932) [3.03] rec. 1934] **
The Three Men - Suite (1935) [12.52] rec. 1935 ♫
15) The Man From the Country [3.55]
16) The Man About Town [4.20]
17) The Man From the Sea [4.37]
18) Wood Nymphs - Valsette (1917) [3.18] rec. 1935 ♫
19) Song of Loyalty (The Prayer Within Our Hearts) (1935) [4.16] rec. 1935
* Symphony Orchestra (actually London Philharmonic Orchestra); ** Symphony Orchestra # New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra; + New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra; ♪ The Court Symphony Orchestra; ♫ Light Symphony Orchestra (actually London Philharmonic Orchestra
 
CD 6 70.25
1) Meadow to Mayfair Suite: No. 2 - ‘A Song By the Way’ (1931) [4.03] rec. 1935 *
London Again Suite (1936) [12.40] rec. 1936 **
2) Oxford Street - March [3.12]
3) Langham Place - Elegy [4.20]
4) Mayfair - Valse [3.56]
5) By the Sleepy Lagoon - Valse Serenade (1930) [3.20] rec. rec. 1940 *
6) The Three Bears - A Phantasy (1926) [8.52] rec. 1945 +
7) London Suite - ‘Knightsbridge March’ (1932) [4.01] rec. 1946 +
8) Televison March (1946) [3.20] +
9) ‘Valse’ from The Phantasy The Three Bears (1949) [3.07] rec. 1949 ♪
10) The Merrymakers - Overture (1923) [4.06] rec. 1923 (acoustic recording) ♪
11) Moresque - Interlude (1921) [3.37] rec. 1923 (acoustic recording) ♪
Joyous Youth - Suite (1921) [11.33] rec. 1923 (acoustic recordings) #
12) Introduction [4.04]
13) Serenade [3.59]
14) Valse [3.30]
15) Summer Days Suite: At the Dance (1919) [3.59] rec. 1926 #
16) The Selfish Giant - A Phantasy (arr. Leighton Lucas) (1925) [8.06] rec. 1926
* Symphony Orchestra; ** Symphony Orchestra (actually London Philharmonic); + London Symphony Orchestra; ♪ New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra; # The Aeolian Orchestra  
BONUS CD 7 [74.33]
From The Countryside - Suite (1914) [6.59] rec. circa 1918
The Peerless Orchestra
1) Early Morning - In the Meadows [1.36]
2) Afternoon - Among the Poppies [2.05]
3) Evening - At the Fair [3.18]
Miniature Suite (1911) [8.42] rec. 1931
Clarence Raybould conducting Light Symphony Orchestra
4) Children’s Dance [2.16]
5) Intermezzo [2.15]
6) Scene du Bal [4.11]
Joyous Youth - Suite (1921) [8.19] rec. 1942
Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
12) Introduction [2.34]
13) Serenade [2.49]
14) Valse [2.56]
10) Moresque - Dance Interlude (1921) [2.45] rec. 1944
Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
Two Light Syncopated Pieces (1924-25) [5.17]
11) Moon Magic [2.13]
Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra rec 1946
12) Rose Of Samarkand [3.04]
Jack Hylton and His Orchestra rec. 1926
13) The Selfish Giant - A Phantasy (1925) [8.08] rec.1945
The New Concert Orchestra conducted by John Leon
Four Ways Suite (1927) [12.17] rec. 1934
Joseph Lewis conducting the New Light Symphony Orchestra
14) Northwards - March [4.12]
15) Southwards - Valse (1.17]
16) Eastwards - Eastern Dance [2.47]
17) Westwards - Rhythm [4.01]
18) Mirage - Romance (1928) [2.43] rec. 1942
Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
19) Under the Stars (1928) [3.07] rec. 1946
Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra
20) Lazy Night - Valse Romantique (1931) [2.47] rec. 1932
Cedric Sharpe Sextet
21) Over to You - March (1941) [3.09] rec. 1942
RAF Central Orchestra conducted by Wing Commander O. P. O’Donnell MVO
22) Holborn - March (1950) [3.20] rec. 1950
Sidney Torch and his Orchestra
23) Sweet Seventeen - Concert Waltz (1954) [2.44] rec. 1955
The Melodi Light Orchestra conducted by Ole Jensen
24) The Dam Busters March (1954) [3.00] rec. 1955
Central Band of The Royal Air Force conducted by Wing Commander A.E. Sims OBE 

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