I really should have paid more attention in divinity lessons with Canon Strickland-Venables at school. My mother frequently described people who offered awkward or tactlessly expressed sympathy which made a bad situation even worse as “Job’s comforters”. It wasn’t until I read the synopsis of this recording that I realised that they were originally the wily hypocrites pretending to sympathise with his plight and in a master stroke, Vaughan Williams, gives one of their “comforting” words to a sardonic saxophone. It has a similar effect to the instrument’s sound in the Scherzoof the Sixth Symphony.

Vaughan Williams

This is just one of the felicities in this sadly neglected score, originally a ballet. Is its neglect due to the fact that, like Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote, its biblical narrative qualities don’t translate well into the concert hall? The overall tone is permeated with nobility, including the nobility of suffering, and beneficence, yet injected with plenty of fire and brimstone from the excellent Halle Orchestra in the Satanic passages. The Saraband of the Sons of Godis one of his most indelible creations,...