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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. 
See end of review for details.
NIMBUS NI 6231 [7 CDs: 8:50:00] 

Over 7 CDs, and nearly 9 hours, Nimbus has provided us with the ‘definitive’ Eric Coates, a magnificent piece of intelligence, diligence and assiduous documentation. By ‘definitive’, Nimbus means all the commercial recordings he conducted on disc between 1923 - late acoustics - and ‘last testament’ recordings of 1957, made shortly before his death. Programming considerations mean that the recordings are not presented chronologically, and this also means that multiple recordings of the same piece are scattered throughout the discs.
 
Thus the first disc begins in November 1931. It includes a number of sides made by the ‘Symphony Orchestra’, a cover for Beecham’s London Philharmonic. Cinderella is one such, recorded over three sides and conjecturally rushed a bit to fit the time constraints. The resultant performance is, however, laudable. By the Sleepy Lagoon - Coates’s love-song to Bognor - is heard in multiple performances, but his 1935 traversal, again with the LPO, sports a violin/harp salon-style duet in the middle to bulk out the piece to 12” proportions. I’m assuming that the orchestra’s leader, Paul Beard, was the fiddler. The most popular one of the six movements of The Jester at the Wedding is The Princess Arrives, dashingly dispatched in May 1934. Coates always liked the recording of By the Tamarisk, even though its coda was rewritten to fit the time constraints of 4:13. The first disc also houses the famous Saxo-Rhapsody recording with Siguard Rascher and the London Symphony. It’s slightly cut but is a ‘creator’ classic and catches the alto saxophonist’s fabled tone with fidelity. Talking of cuts, Summer Days suite suffered something of a pruning to get it onto two sides of a 78. The Springtime suite suffered less in that regard, stretching to two discs, and is beautifully played, the opening Fresh Morning, in particular.
 
Disc 2 takes us forward to his series of recordings made in 1940. His first major work in this sequence is Calling All Workers, the signature tune for Music While You Work. A sequence of discs was made for HMV’s private JG label in February 1944 and consists of two brief fanfares interspersing two salutes to the military. Because of the nature of the recordings these are quite rare - Salute the Soldier and The Eighth Army March. Later in the year Coates began working for Decca and made a small series of discs with the National Symphony Orchestra. This version of The Four Centuries Suite is especially evocative, not least the gorgeous Pavane and Tambourin and the Gershwinesque charms of the Rhythm movement. The Three Elizabeths was the final suite that Coates ever wrote, and it was recorded for Decca in November 1944.
 
The War now over, Coates’s popularity in America is marked by some export-only discs in 1948 and these include a (thankfully) vocal-free recording of Bird Songs at Eventide in an arrangement by H.M Higgs in CD3. The famous Decca sets of two suites - London, and London Again - duly followed for both the domestic and American markets, this time, toward the end of the year. The latter, in particular, is one of his sprucest and best recordings of his own music. I’m especially glad to have the 1949 New Symphony recording of The Three Men suite; an especially droll, and richly characterised work. One can have a lot of fun listening to this version and then comparing and contrasting it - as one can elsewhere in the set with other pieces - with Coates’ earlier 1935 recording with the LPO, which can be found housed in disc 5. Before we leave this disc, however, one should note the cut-about versions of The Dam-Busters March on a 1955 Pye-Nixa.
 
Disc 4 contains recordings made by Coates’ eponymous orchestra, very much the thing for Light Music in the 1950s. These include the August 1957 sides made not long before his death, a bit of a mixed batch. Earlier, in 1952, the London and London Again suites are reprised, this time with the LPO in 1952, and the following year Decca decided to update their wartime issues by coaxing new minted recordings with the New Symphony of The Three Men and The Three Elizabeths suites. Duplication is an inevitable corollary of a complete edition such as this.
 
With CD5 we delve back and forth. Summer Days is a suite recorded back in 1926 at the Wigmore Hall with the New Queen’s Hall Light Orchestra. With a Song in My Heart is a Symphonic Rhapsody after Richard Rogers, composed in 1930 and demonstrating Coates’ admiration for transatlantic models. It’s conjectured that Coates conducts the 1932 recording of Bird Songs at Eventide with Jack Payne’s band; Billy Scott-Comber takes the vocal. Arthur Firth is the singer of I Pitch My Lonely Caravan from the following year, this time with the LPO. The first recording of the London suite is in this disc, made for Columbia with the LPO in March 1933, though Covent Garden and Westminster are heard in abridged versions. Those unconvinced by the later two versions of The Three Men suite can turn to this 1935 LPO performance - its recording debut - and can admire its panache.
 
There’s another version of By The Sleepy Lagoon in CD6; this one dates from a 1940 Columbia. It’s good also to hear the 1945 The Three Bears phantasy. This disc includes Coates’s first forays into the recording studio. In 1923 he set down Joyous Youth, a suite composed two years previously. This is his only recording of it, which makes it doubly valuable. The recording is acoustic and Vocalion was inferior to both HMV and Columbia in terms of reproduction, but good results can be extracted from their discs. At the Dance, from Summer Days was the final side ‘filler’. Finally there’s a 1926 disc performed by Jack Hylton’s Band, augmented by his Kit-Cat Band (those were the days) performing The Selfish Giant. This Phantasy is heard in the arrangement by Leighton Lucas, conducted by Coates.
 
This brings us, finally, to the last disc in this set. There’s a recording on Zonophone, made in 1918, of the suite From the Countryside, with the Peerless Orchestra under an anonymous conductor, if there indeed was one. There are bass reinforcements for this small ensemble but it’s a piquant and early representation of Coates on disc. Incidentally it might be worth noting here that there were a number of early acoustic Coates recordings that are not presented here. That doyen of Light Music in Britain, Alick Maclean, recorded the Miniature Suite for HMV in 1918 - but Nimbus has decided to present in this volume the later 1931 recording of the work made by Coates’ good friend, Clarence Raybould. Written for Henry Wood, Coates never recorded it. Maclean also recorded Wood Nymphs and the Summer Days suite. Also missing are recordings of individual movements from suites conducted by the likes of Percy Fletcher (like Coates, a great hero of Light Music), Bainbridge Robinson and Arthur Wood. Nevertheless what this last volume gives us is a conspectus of recordings by Coates’ colleagues. Charles Williams, like Coates a jobbing string player in his youth, became a respected member of the Light Music fraternity and directs the Joyous Suite for Chappell in 1942. Jack Leon conducts The Selfish Giant for Boosey and Hawkes in 1945. Joseph Lewis recorded Four Ways Suite for HMV in 1934 - another suite its composer never recorded. Cellist Cedric Sharpe’s excellent Sextet recorded Lazy Night for HMV in 1932. We see out this final disc with The Dam-Busters, performed appropriately enough by the Central Band of the RAF, conducted by Wing Commander AE Sims in 1955.
 
That gives a run-down of the contents of these seven discs. They’re housed in two separate boxes, one of which contains the track-listing, in detail - matrix numbers, and dates of recording included. The other box contains a really splendid large-scale essay by Michael Payne, author of a biography of the composer published by Ashgate Press. The sequencing makes it necessary to move about a bit in the booklet to keep up with the recording to which you’re listening.
 
The restorations are by Alan Bunting and they’re very fine; as usual in transfers of acoustic material I’d have preferred a more open sound, but there are few acoustics here, the bulk being electrical.
 
I’d have thought this was Nirvana for the dedicated Coates collector.
 
Jonathan Woolf 

See also reviews by Raymond Walker, Ian Lace and John France 
 
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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