The Best Of 'The Definitive Eric Coates'


A selection of his commercially released recordings

This very full 2 CD compilation of Coates most popular works is drawn from a 7 CD set ‘The Definitive Eric Coates’ (NI 6231) containing all of Eric Coates commercially released recordings. In addition to a full discography the booklet has a 1000 word article on Coates relationship with the Gramophone by Michael Payne.

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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. 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! MusicWeb-International

"A most delightful souvenir of the most catchy light music of the 1920's to the 1950's by a master of the genre. It could be said that there is a little too much sameness in the orchestration of Eric Coates' compositions but it fits very well and is consistently enjoyable with the flow of melodies and bustling rhythms. Seven of the 15 tracks on CD1 and nine if the 19 on CD2 would be familiar to the majority of people who listened to the wireless in those years and several of these would stll be remembered by many of later generations as the signature tunes of a number of radio and television programmes, The opening track of CD1 "The Merrymakers" sets the tone for the following series of immensely satisfying compositions. The absolute appropriateness of so many of these pieces is particularly exemplified by "The Three Bears" with its motif of "Whose been sitting in MY chair?" and the never to be forgotten "By the Sleepy Lagoon", laid back signature tune of "Desert Island Discs" and "The Dam Busters - March"; say no more! The crisp conducting by the composer enhances the rhythmic immediacy of the flow of music in each item. It is easy to understand why Elgar had a standing order with his gramophone record supplier to send him this composer's compositions as soon as thy became available. Indeed, some of these recordings were made in the studio before they were heard in the concert hall. The accompanying booklet is a thoughtfully produced summary of both Eric Coates, the man and his music."- Jack L. Honigman

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