The burgeoning interest in British light music has raised the profile of Eric Coates, and this programme spans his whole career, from the charming À la gavotte of 1912, when he was in his mid-twenties, to his final composition, the surging march High Flight (1956). It is the marches, moreover, which offer the greatest reward, including the famous London Calling. John Wilson has just the right feel for this music, and the BBC Concert Orchestra plays splendidly, aided by good recorded sound.
There is thorough documentation, exuding commitment to the cause, though it seems more than a little enthusiastic to describe the concert waltz Dancing Nights as ‘in every way the equal’ of Ravel’s La valse, which it quotes. Several larger works are included, among them two symphonic rhapsodies and the 1938 ballet The Enchanted Garden, whose orchestra was the largest Coates ever used. However, the music is unduly repetitive and fails to sustain its 20-minute span, though it never succumbs to the bathos of the rhapsody on Richard Rodgers’s ‘With a Song in My Heart’.
The orchestration is often sumptuous, and at his best Coates will reward any listener who enjoys colourful orchestral sound. For such is certainly on offer here. Terry Barfoot