Kathryn Rudge, Christopher Glynn - Songs by Eric Coates (24/88 FLAC)
Kathryn Rudge, Christopher Glynn – Songs by Eric Coates (24/88 FLAC)

Composer: Eric Coates
Performer: Kathryn Rudge, Christopher Glynn
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: FLAC (tracks)
Label: Somm
Size: 1.95 GB
Recovery: +3%
Scan: cover

Eric Coates (1886-1957)
01. Nursery Rhymes (8) – No. 3, Little Boy Blue
02. By the Sleepy Lagoon
03-04. Symphony Rhapsodies (2)
05. The Scent of Lilac
06. The Fairy Tales of Ireland
07-10. The Mill o’ Dreams
11. Dreams Of London
12. Song of the Little Folk
13. Reuben Ranzo
14. Sea Rapture
15. Green Hills o’Somerset
16. Always As I Close My Eyes
17. Tell me where is Fancy Bred
18-21. Old English Songs (4)
22. Our Little Home
23. I heard you singing
24. By the North Sea
25. At Daybreak
26. Stars and a Crescent Moon
27. Rise up and reach the stars
28. Homeward To You

SOMM Recordings is delighted to announce the release of star-in-the-making mezzo-soprano Kathryn Rudges celebration of the songs of light music master Eric Coates, accompanied by pianist Christopher Glynn. Fresh from rave reviews for The Hills of Dreamland, a ravishing collection of Elgars orchestral songs, Kathryn Rudge returns with a delectable recital of era-defining songs by the composer of the stirring The Dam Busters March, exuberant Knightsbridge march and the timeless By the Sleepy Lagoon, familiar to radio audiences around the world as the theme to BBC Radio 4s Desert Island Discs since 1942. The dreamy reverie of that signature song, so evocative of a more innocent age, is matched here by the carefree rustic knowingness of Reuben Ranzo, the Four Old English Songs, the affecting melancholia of The Green Hills of Somerset and the exquisite four-part song cycle The Mill o Dreams. Coates belongs to an era of gentler music-making but a no less passionate and emotional one, as Rudges ardent singing of Sea Rapture, her beseeching approach to I Pitch My Lonely Caravan and honeyed take on The Fairy Tales of Ireland eloquently testifies to. Kathryn Rudge has been described as one of Britains brightest young mezzos (Whats on Stage) with her voice lauded for its tremendous reserves of power, impeccable intonation, the capacity for a gloriously sustained legato and, most interesting of all, a distinctive vocal quality (The Times). Christopher Glynn is fast emerging as one of the most exciting young accompanists of the day. Opera News has described him as an exemplary partner, by turns impossibly delicate, colourfully nimble and thunderously firm, while the Birmingham Post praised his partnering in concert of fellow SOMM artist Roderick Williams for its reassuring authority and empathy. Authoritative booklet notes are provided by English music specialist Jeremy Dibble.

Reminder of a different age of song

Calling all British ex-pats, this may be a gentle reminder of an age gone by. Before the days of streaming and multi-channels, songs and orchestral pieces by the composer Eric Coates were always on the radio or “wireless.” I mention radio listeners as Sleepy Lagoon, the second song on this recital, originally composed in 1930, was chosen in 1942 to become the regular introductory theme (with added seagulls) of the long-running BBC program Desert Island Discs. The program and its theme are still going today. Calling all workers was another piece which became well known, in World War II as the theme for the program Music while you work. Coates also made a few forays into cinema soundtracks and had a big success with his well-known Dam Busters march, which was part of the soundtrack of the 1955 war film of the same name. In all, Coates composed some 130 songs, and Somm has to be congratulated as this CD presents 28 of them, including some of the best known. The soloist is mezzo Kathryn Rudge, who is a young English singer from Liverpool. Born in 1986, she studied at the Royal Northern College of Music and became the Times Rising Star of Classical Music for 2012. She then made her debut to critical acclaim with the English National Opera as Cherubino. She already has many roles to her credit, including Erika in Barber’s Vanessa, Annio in La clemenza di Tito, and Sesto in Julius Caesar. Her voice is a lovely high-flying, soft-grained mezzo and sounds perfect for Mozart and Handel. Her tone, which is admirably steady, is just right for the material.
Dreams of London is one song which tests the singer at both ends of the scale. Sadly the sound on this CD has the soloist behind the piano, and in some of the livelier songs almost threatens to drown her, but none really put her under any strain. Reuben Ranzo, verging on Gilbert and Sullivan, is a jolly, rollicking sea-faring song, which both soloist and pianist clearly relish and is sung with great gusto. Sea Rapture ends on high, and in this song one just gets a slight impression that she is fighting the piano to sound over it. Next is Green Hills of Somerset, with words by Fred Weatherly, who also wrote the words for Holy City. This song became a perennial favorite with singers in the mid-20th century, including the Australians Joan Hammond and the great Peter Dawson. Hammond takes her time, taking over a minute longer in one version. Dawson shows how it can be done, with his rich bass-baritone, pinpoint diction, and easy production—immaculate singing indeed. The Four Old English Songs are from 1909 and fit Rudge like a glove. They were originally sung at the London Proms by Olga Wood, the wife of the conductor Henry Wood, and promptly taken up by many other singers, including Nellie Melba.
Coates’s straight-forward style and simple song structures are good for voices and show them off effectively in the long and occasionally showy ends to his songs. This makes them appeal to the best singers, including Dawson and John McCormack, splendid balladeers both. Rudge sings I Heard You Singing with charm and poignancy. However, there is an interesting version by Gosta Björling, Jussi’s brother. In Swedish, it obviously does not sound English, but it does have bags of presence and a lovely soft ending. Rise Up and Reach the Stars is a splendid song to bring the curtain down on this recital and should have been the last song. It has a rousing finale that would bring the house down in a concert hall. It certainly brings both singer and accompanist to life.
Kathryn Rudge does succeed in bringing a nostalgic feel to these songs, although perhaps individually they are better sung elsewhere. Also, one can occasionally detect some noisy breathing, despite the forward sound of the piano. However, if you want to hear the popular cherries of Eric Coates, this is the place. The booklet is excellent and Somm is to be highly commended for including all the words. Recommended.

Leave a Reply