There really isn't an American equivalent to England's Eric Coates. Though Leroy Anderson and Ferde Grofé come close in terms of populist appeal, Coates was much more truly popular than either American. A born tunesmith who stuck strictly to suites, marches, and songs, Coates could put together an attractive combination of bright melodies, brilliant scoring, and easygoing charm better than any of his contemporaries on either side of the Atlantic in the first half of the twentieth century. This 2008 Dutton disc dedicated to Coates' orchestral music plus a selection of his songs for voice and orchestra provides a fine overview of his music. Played by the BBC Concert Orchestra under the direction of John Wilson, the performances here are alert and energetic with a tremendous sense of rhythmic drive. Though Coates could evoke a bucolic sunrise as well as any British composer of his time, he was clearly more in his element in a brisk march, and the BBC Orchestra and Wilson perform the many marches included here with terrific dash and conviction. Perhaps closer to Coates' sentimental heart were his songs, and tenor Richard Edgar-Wilson and baritone Thomas Allen turn in meltingly beautiful performances of Song of Summer and Bird Songs at Eventide. Recorded in strong, clear digital sound, this disc will surely appeal to anyone who enjoys light classics.
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AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|From the Countryside, suite for orchestra|
|Four Ways, suite for orchestra|
|The Three Bears, phantasy for orchestra|
|Mill o' Dreams, for voice & piano|