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James A. Altena
Fanfare, May 2012

an estimable reading in Boult’s distinctive style…A remarkable feature is that this performance differs notably in conception from that set down by EMI…That there is a substantial difference is a sufficient point of interest in and of itself for admirers of this conductor’s art.

With Job the competition between the 1970 EMI studio version and this live performance is much closer; the overall timings and conceptions of the two are virtually identical, and here the live performance has more presence. This video version does offer one advantage its studio counterpart lacks; at the start of each section, it displays for several seconds the corresponding (and striking) drawings from William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job that inspired the composer. Boult had a unique and authoritative association with this work; in 1934 the composer dedicated the work to him, and he made four studio recordings of it before any other conductor made even one. That alone would make this an invaluable historical document; that value is increased by the fact that, apart from the aforementioned Beethoven concerto and a Beethoven romance for violin and orchestra with Yehudi Menuhin, this disc contains what are to my knowledge the only commercially released filmed performances of the man who ranks alongside Thomas Beecham as one of the two greatest British conductors of the last century.

The film quality itself is excellent for its vintage; images and colors are as sharp and clear as the analog film technology of the periods allows, and there are no signs of film deterioration. Camerawork is discreet, appropriate in focus, and free from the jittery itch of some current film producers to jump about every few seconds…this is music-making of great integrity and conviction. To fans of Vaughan Williams and Boult alike, this release is unhesitatingly recommended, particularly for the fine account of Job. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review on Fanfare

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