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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: 8:50:00]

Ian Lace, in his excellent review of this Nimbus release, considers who will buy this set of CDs. He wonders if ‘this superbly crafted music, so full of vitality and romance (will) appeal to audiences below the age of say, sixty.’ Well, I have not yet reached that magical age, but I have loved Eric Coates as long as I can recall. I first consciously heard his music at a concert at the end of the pier in Llandudno with John Moravia conducting. I think it was the ‘Merrymaker’s Overture’. Through all the vicissitudes of Boulez, minimalism, Stockhausen and aleatory music, I have remained a fan of Eric Coates.
 
At school, I was often ‘teased’ by more learned and intellectual friends for liking such ‘persiflage’ as the London Suite and the Three Elizabeth Suite. This ‘superiority’ from some ‘music-lovers’ has continued down through the years. Much as I care. This 50-something-year-old would swap reams of Mahler, Verdi, Bruckner and Wagner (especially Wagner) to possess the complete orchestral works of Eric Coates on my Desert Island. I guess that somewhere in the recesses of the classical public’s collective psyche there is a steady interest in so-called ‘light music’. For example, I am convinced that the Guild Light Music series which now exceeds a hundred CDs - is not selling only to OAPs.
 
This present collection of seven CDs covers the entire corpus of Eric Coates’ music recorded by the composer -from 1923 until the late nineteen-fifties. I have not done a detailed cross-check between the track-listings and Coates’ catalogue but I guess that all the well-known suites and marches are presented along with a wide variety of more obscure, but equally enjoyable pieces. Naturally, there is considerable duplication within these seven CDs - for example there are three full versions of the fine London Again Suite, a similar tally for ‘By the Sleepy Lagoon’ and five of the ‘Knightsbridge March’. Many works have only a single performance here - for example, ‘High Flight’, the ‘Holborn March’ and the delicious ‘Footlights-Concert Valse’.
 
Some of the highlights are the lesser-known works. How often does the delicious tone-poem ‘Summer Afternoon’ feature on CDs or radio broadcasts? This is a work that crosses over into something that Delius might have written. Two ‘Fanfares’ dating from 1943 are heard on the second disc. I have not encountered these extremely short numbers before. The ‘Moresque’ dance is included twice here - once in an early Coates performance and the other conducted by Charles Williams. The Cinderella-Phantasy is an attractive work that seems to have slipped down the crack in today’s concert scheduling. It is an ideal ‘prom’ work if there was ever one. There are a handful of Coates’ songs set for orchestra, including ‘Bird Songs at Eventide’, ‘I heard you singing’ and the Symphonic Rhapsody on ‘With a Song in my Heart’.
Finally, it is good to have all the marches composed for the nascent commercial television companies in one place. These include the ‘Television March’, the ‘Music Everywhere- Rediffusion March’, the ‘Sound and Vision - the A.T.V. Television March’ and the ‘South Wales and West - Television March’ (originally the Seven Seas March).
 
There are a few works missing, for example the early ‘Ballade’, the ‘Rhodesia March’ and the unpublished ‘Coquette’. Virtually everything else is present and correct in one form or another. In total there are some 8 hours 50 minutes of listening.
 
Included in the final ‘bonus’ disc are a series of rare recordings of Coates’ music played by a variety of dance bands. It is treasure trove, indeed. There is a very early version of ‘From the Countryside’ by the Peerless Orchestra made around 1918; this in a surprisingly good transfer. Other ‘outfits’ presented here include Jack Hylton and his Orchestra’s splendid rendition of ‘Rose of Samarkand’, Charles Williams conducting the Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra and the Cedric Sharpe Sextet with a ‘Palm Court’ rendition of ‘Lazy Night’. Sidney Torch and his orchestra play the relatively rarely heard ‘Holborn March’, whilst the RAF Central Orchestra performs the equally rare ‘Over to You’ - March written in 1941 and recorded the following year. The final work in this collection is the ubiquitous ‘The Dam Busters March’ from the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. It is a fine conclusion to an outstanding collection of music.
 
Every commercial recording that Eric Coates made is given here. However it appears that two are ‘missing’. Alan Bunting has suggested that ‘Covent Garden’ and ‘Westminster’ from the London Suite which were recorded in 1933 are not present in their original form. This is because they were later re-issued with another catalogue number. Bunting has compared the wave analysis of both recordings and has declared them to be identical, in spite of the records being released fourteen years apart.
 
All these tracks have been re-mastered to an extremely high standard. The ‘acoustic’ numbers (issued in 1923) have been placed at the end of disc six: these are worthy of our attention, in spite of the early technology. It amazes me just how much detail is present. The ‘electrically’ recorded tracks are superb in their presentation: often I found it hard to believe I was listening to something ‘laid down’ more than sixty or seventy years ago.
 
Alan Bunting has written that he considered ordering the tracks in strict chronological order, however he decided to present the material in a way that is varied and enjoyable. It was a wise decision, as each disc can be approached as a ‘concert’ in its own right. It would have meant that the opening discs of the boxed set would have had the least technically impressive tracks. Furthermore, repetition of pieces on the same CD, even on adjacent tracks, would have been inevitable.
 
I listened to these seven discs on my music-room ‘hi-fi’ system which is far removed from the gramophones of the pre and post war years. I did want to upload them to my iPod for future listening. Alas, the track names are not yet recognized by the ‘Gracenotes’ media database. As there are 130+ tracks, it would take a long time to fill in manually. I hope that Nimbus will submit the track details PDQ as this will be essential listening for me during my travels.
 
Anyone interested in Eric Coates will own the precious few books by or about him. The primary text is the composer’s own Suite in Four Movements, most recently republished by Thames in 1986. In the same year Geoffrey Self’s book In Town Tonight - a Centenary Study of Eric Coates was published. This book is now hard to find. The most recent addition to this short list is the important study by Michael Payne - The Life and Music of Eric Coates which was published by Ashgate Press in 2012. It was based on his University of Durham thesis (2007) ‘The Man Who Writes the Tunes’. Payne has contributed to the present Nimbus set a major essay which is included in the liner-notes. It runs to some 27 pages and is essential reading for all enthusiasts of Eric Coates’ music. The main thrust of this is the composer’s work in the recording studio but he adds a wealth of subsidiary information and anecdotes.
 
Another insert provides a detailed track-listing. This includes the date of recording, the record and matrix number, the performers (which are not always the same as noted on the original record label) and the place or recording when known. Additional information includes the date of composition and the duration. For anyone with a subscription to The Gramophone journal archive, it is possible to track the critical reviews of many of these records as and when they were released.
 
This is an essential purchase for all enthusiasts of Eric Coates in particular and British Light Music in general. It offers virtually a complete compendium of his orchestral music. The ‘recommended retail price’ is £29.99 (£21 if ordered from MWI) which makes it about £4.00 a disc. This makes for unbelievably good value for money. There is nothing about this release that I can fault. It is one of the recording highlights of my classical music-listening life. What I would have given for this back in the early ’seventies when I first discovered Coates’ music.
 
John France

See also review by Ian Lace

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 WeddingNo. 1 The Princess Arrives (1932) [3.21] rec. 1935 * 
14)  The Jester at the WeddingNo. 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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