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Brahms:Serenades 1 & 2 [Gavle Symphony Orchestra] [Ondine: ODE 1291-2]

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Anyone who champions Brahms's gloriously eccentric, lyrical and capacious Serenades No 1 in D with six movements, No 2 in A with five deserves full attention. Here they get it. Jaime Martín was chiefly a flautist until switching careers to full-time conducting in 2013. He gets three big pictures on this CD the first in a series of Brahms recording with the Gävle Symphony Orchestra whereas Brahms has only one, scarcely bigger than a postage stamp. Despite occasional thickening of textures, there's some lovely playing, with warm woodwind and horns and nice, crisp syncopations. Martín does not allow the tempi to drag: important in works that need to be kept agile and alert to reveal their special charm.*** --Observer, 5/3/17

Jaime Martín masterminds most pleasing accounts of both of Brahms'='s youthful serenades with the Gävle Symphony Orchestra (of which he has been Artistic Director and Principal Conductor since 2013). The favourable impression left by the Spanish flautist/conductor's 2015 Tritó release of Schubert 'Great' C major Symphony is replicated by the present characterful, lucid and glowingly affectionate pair of performances. Martín chooses sensible speeds, possesses a keen ear, and elicits a thoroughly tasteful, poised and eager response from his colleagues. In the First Serenade I'm happy to report that the second-movement scherzo's joyous trio melody beams exactly as it should, while the Gävle SO's personable winds and lower strings excel in the rather more intimate Second Serenade. Featuring admirably warm-toned and detailed engineering from the superlative Take5 production team of Ingo Petry and Marion Schwebel, this Ondine newcomer comfortably joins my own shortlist for this particular coupling. Most enjoyable! **** --Classical Ear,Mar'17

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