For a long time I couldn't imagine a better performance than Bernard Haitink's recording of Vaughan Williams's 2nd Symphony. Then I acquired this one by Vernon Handley and found it even finer. Handley communicates superbly the poetry, exuberance and drama in the score. The climax of the slow movement is a high point: I've never heard it done more passionately than in this recording. And the grinding climax of the finale - looking forward to the music of "Job" - is also enormously powerful.
The 8th Symphony has always been something of a closed book to me. The performance of the work's dedicatee, John Barbirolli, is the best I've heard, but Handley does a better job than most at penetrating its mysteries.
EMI's recording is very fine in both works, and Handley secures playing first class playing from the Liverpool Philharmonic.