Having recorded Ralph Vaughan Williams’s Nine Symphonies for Onyx, Andrew Manze and the Liverpool Philharmonic turn to another VW masterpiece, Job: A Masque for Dancing. It’s a fine traversal: thoughtful, sympathetic, atmospheric, fiery, dramatic, profoundly expressive and vividly characterised (at-one with the music, in other words), played superbly, produced to the highest standards by Andrew Keener and engineered with equal distinction by Chris Tann. I remain unshakeable about the greatness of Sir Adrian Boult’s fourth and final recording of Job, https://www.colinscolumn.com/vinyl-sir-adrian-boults-fourth-final-and-finest-commercial-recording-of-vaughan-williamss-job-a-masque-for-dancing-lso-august-1970-kingsway-hall-hmv-asd-2673/, and a Boston performance with him is also indispensable, https://www.colinscolumn.com/rvw150-somm-releases-sir-adrian-boult-conducting-the-boston-symphony-orchestra-in-ralph-vaughan-williamss-job-a-masque-for-dancing-1946/. However, Manze runs him close and I wouldn’t want to be without his version, studded with notable solos from oboe, cello, saxophone and Thelma Handy’s violin; and the organ’s momentary contribution is spectacular.
Old King Cole (Ballet for Orchestra) and The Running Set (Traditional Dance Tunes for Orchestra), occasional pieces if self-evidently by this composer, are both very enjoyable, the former colourful and picturesque, ranging from circus-rowdy to sweetly lyrical (leader Eva Thorarinsdottir embraces the latter quality very nicely) and from rhythmically agile to sonorously sustained; whereas the short latter lives up to its billing, lively and invigorating.
The excellence of ONYX4240 is completed by Lewis Foreman’s booklet note.