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Job / Double Piano Concerto
Williams, Lso, Lpo
Job / Double Piano Concerto
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (16) - Disc #1


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CD Details

All Artists: Williams, Lso, Lpo, Boult
Title: Job / Double Piano Concerto
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Angel Records
Release Date: 1/25/2000
Genre: Classical
Styles: Opera & Classical Vocal, Ballets & Dances, Ballets, Forms & Genres, Concertos, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Instruments, Keyboard, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 724356722026

CD Reviews

The greatest recording of Job
NotATameLion | Michigan | 11/17/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Conceived in 1927 to mark the centenary of William Blake's death, Vaughan Williams' Job: A Masque for Dancing takes as its inspiration the illustrations Blake made for the story of Job. However, the full force of the piece was destined to lie hidden until Sir Adrian Boult first conducted it in 1933. The beauty and force of Boult's recording of it here makes clear why the conductor later dedicated it to him.Job has a Stravinsky-like blend of the beautiful and the terrible--yet its sound remains totally within the musical realm of Vaughan Williams. The minuet of the sons of Job and their wives has to be one of the most beautiful (and eerie) things the composer ever wrote. Boult was surely born to conduct this music, and he proves it time and again in passage after glorious passage.Also included on this disc is Vaughan Williams' concerto for two pianos. It is not a favorite of mine (or many others I suspect), but it does have a lush second movement that holds up well in comparison to some of RVW's greater writing. It is given a clear and orderly, if somewhat emotionless, performance here.All in all, this disc is a great package at a great value--I heartily recommend it."
Stunning work of drama and ingenuity
jean couture | Quebec city - Canada | 10/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Several recordings of `Job' were made over the years but half of those are now deleted or barely available in the current catalogues. Of all conductors who attempted the realization of `Job', the dedicatee of this amazing work is still the champ. Sir Adrian Cedric Boult, in fact, left no less than four "official" recordings of it :

- BBC S.O. for HMV in 1946 (recorded in March 1946 at Abbey Road Studio No.1, London--produced by Walter Legge--feat.: Paul Beard [violin], concertmaster) mono recording;

- L.P.O. in 1954 for London-Decca (recorded in January 1954 at Kingsway Hall, London--produced by James Walker, engineered by Kenneth Wilkinson--feat.: Joseph Shadwick [violin], leader) mono recording;

- L.P.O. in 1958 for Everest Records (recorded in November 1958 at the Royal Albert Hall, London--produced and engineered by Bert Whyte--feat.: Henry Datyner [violin], leader) stereo recording;

- L.S.O. for EMI Records in 1970. The latter is the version under review; as for the 1950's London-Decca, it's been recorded at Kingsway Hall, London. It is an excellent Parker and Bishop "hi-fi stereo" production, in August 1970, for EMI (HMV); it features the violinist and leader John Georgiadis.

There is also a live (centenary) performance from October 12, 1972, caught at the Royal Festival Hall, featuring Boult with L.P.O., on a rare CD published in Europe by Intaglio. The latter rendering supposedly is a sensation but somehow i missed it. An invaluable recording of a January 1946 live performance at Symphony Hall, with Boult conducting the Boston S.O., may have survived, somewhere... ...

The 1958 recording for Everest is something of a controversy. As it turns out, the recording venue might be largely (but not solely) responsible for the half-success, half-failure of that session. The web site `ClassiqueInfo disques' (France) remarked that the recording venue "seems to have posed to the engineers of Everest some problems of dispersion, and microphone setting, because the brass (trombones in particular) blares with exaggerated contour over some distant strings lacking in body. The London Philharmonic Orchestra is perhaps not either on its best shape, and doesn't always reflect the atmosphere of alleviated serenity Boult tries to impose [...]." I believe all people involved tried to do their best but, for some unfortunate reasons, it just didn't work the way it should have. The Everest version of `Job' is musically really good, after all. And if the sound is marred by "problems," then that should not nullify the value of the interpretation in its entirety. Indeed, their "Altar Dance" is, perhaps, the most glorious on disc--not to mention the grandiose ensemble playing of the L.P.O. in the "Three Messengers" or in the "Epilogue"--that should justify it a crucial archive.

Bert Whyte wrote a gripping article about the ins and outs of those great sessions in the defunct hi-fi magazine Audio (December 1985) : "I chose to record `Job' in London's Royal Albert Hall because we wanted to use its great pipe organ. The hall is very large, seating nearly 8000 people, and has notoriously difficult acoustics due to its reverberation period of more than 3 S. [...] Using the Albert Hall involved a lot of extra work..." People are unanimous about the fact that their Walthamstow Town Hall recordings are finer sonically--and much better in some cases (for example, the splendid sound achieved there for the Ninth Symphony, in August 1958, by Bert Whyte and his colleagues).

As i mentioned initially, there are many recordings of `Job'--from the antique monos to the latest digital gimmicks. I won't probe in detail each of those. The present disc (EMI/Boult) offers wonderful readings of both the Concerto and `Job'; there is an effortless sense of foreboding in some parts of the latter, and both works contain very beautiful, memorable melodies. The solo violin of John Georgiadis provides exquisite sonorities and the ensemble gets a redolent tone which possesses the placid rurality of `The Lark Ascending'. The 1968 recording of the Concerto shows how pianists Victor Babin and Vitya Vronsky are clever in their unified performance, for this is not an easy work to play. This concerto is a tuneful, heartfelt and dynamic piece that readily announces the Fourth Symphony. It contains some marvelous, luminous music with characteristic melodies in the identifiable Vaughan Williams way. The accompaniment by the L.P.O., under the peerless direction of Boult, is attentive and idiomatic.

For Boult, rhythm was of the foremost importance; his skilled technique was the result of years of practice and committed learning. Boult had his idea that a conductor shouldn't interfere with the music or try to modify it (but there are a few exceptions in case). After all, neutrality is the affair of the conductor, and expression that of the musicians : "He will not tolerate all the extraneous marks of expression that scores are apt to accumulate from the hands of conductors bent upon coloring up the work of the long suffering composer. [...] He goes to endless trouble to make the players feel the swing of the music, particularly when the bar-lines tend to break this up." We can assert that Boult belonged to a more objective school of thought, Weingartner-style, which doesn't mean his taut technique was deprived of emotion (typically, his music has what we might call a "restrained feeling"). However, that is not to say conductors from the opposite school or with a different view are "not good" : Examples of acclaimed conductors of the rubato (more subjective or impulsive) clerisy abound, from Glorious John and Wilhelm Furtwangler to Leonard Bernstein and the flamboyant Gustavo Dudamel (i like a lot Dudamel, by the way). Boult was neither a sort of "scaled-down Beecham", nor his approach toward precision in conducting--with a small dose of gentlemanly reserve--was "dull" or "fastidious". To the contrary, his musical legacy tends to confirm how fine and keen he was as a genuine artist plunged in the re-creative process of a variety of musical works. Boult's EMI `Job' deserves the accolades it has received in the press for decades. The very qualities of the performance--and recording--make for a solid account which is still rarely equaled, either in the concert hall or on record. The London Symphony Orchestra was at the height of its blissful years. Although it won't displace my favorite (the 1946 BBC), this is still one of the finest versions of `Job' (idem for the Concerto) and, on many points, it might be one of Sir Adrian's top ten stereo records.

As regards recorded sound, the EMI/Boult with LSO is not quite as secure and articulate as the more recent (1995) DDD Teldec/Davis with the BBC S.O. The Teldec is so good and detailed a recording as to be almost hair-raising. Andrew Davis conducts one of the finest performances the work has received, no less. The EMI/Vernon Handley (with L.P.O.) remains a memorable account which, overall, will please most listeners with "it's robust, accurately paced and colorful rendition." The solo violin parts of David Nolan are quite resplendent and technically proficient. The 1983 EMI sound (even better than the EMI/Boult) is excellent in every way and reflects the live acoustics of St. Augustine's Church, Kilburn, in London. It is praised for the "natural sound staging and awesome dynamic range," to quote the words of Robert Levine in Stereophile. The scarce Carlton Classics CD featuring the BBC Northern S.O., again with Vernon Handley at the helm, is another solid account of the work. The same is true for Richard Hickox's sumptuous 1991 recording with a well-rehearsed Bournemouth S.O. (EMI Classics CD). David Lloyd-Jones, with the English Northern Philharmonia (Naxos), leads a frank and sometimes majestic account. The strings have a distinctly attractive tone.

Opinions about the recorded performance led by Douglas Bostock in Munich (Classico CD) vary radically : Admired by some and despised by others, this version of `Job' surely won't leave you indifferent. Personally, i like the fact that an all-German crew would tackle this chef-d'oeuvre of the British repertoire. Bostock's Munich reading is very good on its own but hardly excellent when put side-by-side with the best of the bunch. And here is a case in point where the performance is better than the recorded sound. Nonetheless, Bostock's a fine and original account : By no means "plainly English" but consistently sagacious and fascinating--the "essence" of Vaughan Williams is unaltered.

My favorite is the first Boult, with BBC S.O., which i personally think is marginally better than the rightly esteemed 1954 London-Decca. Albeit limited sonics, though surprisingly good for 1946, the vintage BBC performance is wondrous : It exhibits sure-fire boldness and has a gamut of relentless energy that does not prevent the more lyrical or quieter moments to shine gracefully. The timbre is somewhat duskier than in Boult's subsequent versions. He seems to have instilled a more overt sense of drama to the music and, without exaggerating any part to the detriment of others, the rhythmic flow is steadier. The orchestra's response is similarly taut and secure in spite of a few minor spots of imprecisions, such as heard in the Minuet. The opening track, Introduction-Saraband, is absolutely magisterial and the overall effect is riveting. One shouldn't forget that it was a sort of "golden era" for the BBC orchestra of those days (the exciting recorded documents of Holst and Elgar are further obvious examples). According to a review in Gramophone, "both of Boult's earlier mono recordings (made, respectively, for HMV in 1946 and Decca in 1954) had more fire and sheer intensity than either the Everest or his HMV account with the LSO from 1970." As one would expect, the conductor, who was always at home in this genre, gave the score a breeze of life like no other. To quote another review for Gramophone, "[...] `Job' is a work he [Boult] conducted with peerless authority" : I think those words could sum up my thoughts in a fitting way. Of course, for more "modern," stereo, versions, my preference goes for the EMI/Boult under review--which i still favor over the estimable Teldec/Davis (that one would be my second choice in this class).

`Job', a `Masque for Dancing', is one of the greatest works by the famed British composer. As Robert Cummings (for AMG) noted : "Job has been viewed as auguring the Symphony No. 4 (1931-1934), a violent and dramatic work of profound character. While there are stylistic similarities between the two compositions, Job features less anxiety with a greater sense of repose and serenity." The creation of the `Masque for Dancing' has been, in fact, inspired by William Blake's `Illustrations to the Book of Job'. I'll quote Burnett James's scholarly liner notes for the London-Decca LP : "Technically the score of Job may be regarded as a compendium of Vaughan Williams' style - a synthesis in which all the varying aspects of his mind are combined in a single transcendent work."

To sum up this elongated review, i'd say that this EMI/Boult CD of `Job' plus `Concerto for two pianos' is another prime recommendation. Like most albums from the British Composers' series, its sound is very fine as far as analog tape versus digital reproduction is concerned. These performances have been wisely reissued as part of the EMI Classics' box set The Collector's Edition, and the good news is the sound is as fine and vivid as any previous EMI incarnation. /*/"
The best v.w. - and an entertaining curiosity
Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane | Fife, Scotland | 05/10/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Vaughan Williams' ballet 'Job', based on scenes by William Blake, is one of his very best scores, full of beauty, excitement and musical integrity. One episode, the Sarabande of the Sons of God, is amazing in its beauty, and intensity. The score is dedicated to Vaughan Williams's friend and champion Sir Adrian Boult, who conducts it here (Boult was 81 when he made this, his fourth, recording of the piece). You don't get better or wiser V.W. conducting than this. It's a real performance, with great depth and absolutely no gimmicry or exaggeration. The Piano Concerto is an odd piece ; pianos can be difficult to balance against orchestras, as Brahms found in his albeit wonderful first P.C.. This Concerto has never really found a place in the repertoire, yet it is full of interest and musical invention, well worth an occasional outing. Again, the performance is first rate, and this CD, essential listening for 'Job', is unlikely to disappoint overall."