Box in very good condition, disks in very good condition.
Needless to report, Adrian Boult's credentials in this repertoire are unassailable, and to have nearly all of his stereo Vaughan Williams recordings for EMI so elegantly packaged and enticingly priced will be incentive enough for many a prospective purchaser. There is much to treasure here, not least those gently perceptive accounts of the first three symphonies, as well as the fifth and the ninth. All the same, the fires burned more brightly on Boult's earlier mono cycle for Decca (Symphonies 1-8 are still available within an unmissable super-budget Belart box) and there is some oddly listless orchestral playing to contend with in both the Sinfonia Antartica and the eighth especially. The fourth and sixth, too, find the New Philharmonia on less than ideally tidy form. The disc of shorter orchestral items and the gorgeous Serenade to Music offers mostly unbridled pleasure (with Hugh Bean a memorably serene soloist in The Lark Ascending), as does Boult's fourth and final recording of Job, though here, too, tension levels are markedly lower than on either of his mono versions (try hearing Boult's 1954 LPO version). No matter, for all its ups and downs, the present anthology undoubtedly offers fine value for money. ----Andrew Achenbach