Hyperion Records

Behind the lines
3 November 1917; movements 2 'The wayside shrine' and 4 'Rumours' are lost

'Coles: Music from Behind the lines' (CDH55464)
Coles: Music from Behind the lines
Buy by post £4.40 CDH55464  Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I  
'Hyperion monthly sampler – August 2014' (HYP201408)
Hyperion monthly sampler – August 2014
HYP201408  Download-only monthly sampler  
'Hyperion monthly sampler – July 2014' (HYP201407)
Hyperion monthly sampler – July 2014
HYP201407  Download-only monthly sampler  
Movement 1: Estaminet de Carrefour
Track 11 on CDH55464 [3'20] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I
Movement 3: Cortège
orchestration of surviving short score

Track 12 on CDH55464 [5'37] Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I
Track 8 on HYP201407 [5'37] Download-only monthly sampler
Track 11 on HYP201408 [5'37] Download-only monthly sampler

Behind the lines
While in uniform, Coles continued to compose, though, owing to the extenuating circumstances that prevailed, he did not aspire to the same ambitious scale of his pre-war orchestral works. A movement, ‘Triste et gai’, from his Fünf Skizzen for piano was orchestrated, and The Sorrowful Dance for piano was composed and sketched for orchestra in short score. Behind the lines, a four-movement suite for small orchestra, appears to have been begun in November 1917. The autograph manuscript of the first movement, ‘Estaminet de Carrefour’, in pencil is dated 3 November 1917 and was sent to Holst for perusal at or around Christmas of that year. Holst conjectured that ‘the other movements were destroyed by a shell during the retreat in March 1918’; he was partially correct. Two of the movements—‘The Wayside Shrine’ and ‘Rumours’—were never found, but a short score of the third movement, ‘Cortège’, survived with some indications of instrumentation.

Though slighter in stature than their more substantial orchestral forebears, these two beautifully crafted movements have a special poignancy and intimacy in the composer’s slender output in that they communicate something of Coles’s war experiences. ‘Estaminet de Carrefour’ (‘coffee-house, or tavern, at the crossroads’) provides a sketch of a northern French pastoral landscape, away from the horrors of the front. This is depicted in the outer sections where the amiable melodic material and its accompanying drone (or musette) is evocative of the folk music of Normandy, while the waltz of the trio suggests a more civilized, refined ‘Edwardian’ environ­ment, perhaps of a dance in dress uniform in the local town. The ‘Cortège’, on the other hand, provides us with a heroic picture of a military funeral procession, one of many that Coles no doubt witnessed in the three years he spent in the trenches. Its most haunting significance, however, is that it also movingly symbolizes the composer’s own ultimate sacrifice in April 1918 when he joined that ‘roll of honour’ of young musicians—George Butterworth, W C Denis Browne, and Ernest Farrar—whose talent remained unfulfilled.

from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2002

Track-specific metadata
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Details for CDA67293 track 11
Estaminet de Carrefour
Recording date
13 December 2001
Recording venue
City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow, Scotland
Recording producer
Andrew Keener
Recording engineer
John Timperley
Hyperion usage
  1. Coles: Music from Behind the lines (CDA67293)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: June 2002
    Deletion date: December 2011
    Superseded by CDH55464
  2. Coles: Music from Behind the lines (CDH55464)
    Disc 1 Track 11
    Release date: July 2014
    Helios (Hyperion's budget label) Composers of World War I
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