John Wilson / BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

Eric Coates: Orchestral Works, Vol. 1

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Eric Coates was a key figure in the development of what the British call "light music" and what Americans call "easy listening." Beginning in the tradition of Arthur Sullivan, he staked out a middle ground between pop and classical music, writing popular songs and orchestral pieces that later in his career incorporated a good deal of jazz. There are several good albums devoted to his music, but the distinctive feature of this one is that it inaugurates a series of Coates' orchestral works. The album mixes some of Coates' bona fide hits with lesser-known works (the jazzier pieces are saved for later), and in general, those who like Coates will find the project worthwhile. You get to hear pieces complete that are generally excerpted, like The Jester at the Wedding Suite (apparently from a nonexistent ballet) and London, the last movement of which is the "Knightsbridge March" that caused so many calls and letters to come in to the BBC that the network printed up a special reply card (the booklet notes are worth the price by themselves for Coates aficionados). Coates' single biggest success, the waltz By the Sleepy Lagoon (sample this), is also here; the piece was a hit in the U.S. as well as Britain and persists as the theme of the BBC program Desert Island Discs. It gets a fetching performance from the BBC Philharmonic under John Wilson, whose enthusiasm for Coates is palpable. Lesser-known items include the Ballad for String Orchestra, Op. 2, by the 18-year-old composer. Coates enthusiasts will welcome this addition to the composer's discography.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 04:38 Amazon
The Jester at the Wedding, Suite from the Ballet
2 03:42 Amazon
3 04:00 Amazon
4 03:05 Amazon
5 04:20 Amazon
6 04:44 Amazon
7 04:48 Amazon
8 07:27 Amazon
9 05:58 Amazon
Two Symphonic Rhapsodies
10 04:38 Amazon
11 05:02 Amazon
12 04:04 Amazon
London Suite for Orchestra
13 04:43 Amazon
14 05:05 Amazon
15 04:18 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick