Because José Serebrier is much better known as a conductor than as a composer, one must avoid preconceptions of what his music sounds like, for it deserves judgment on its own substance, not on his fame. The works on this Naxos CD reflect their times, so listeners should be aware that Serebrier has been composing since the late 1940s, and he has evolved through the various phases of modernism, from a serious American contrapuntal style in his Symphony No. 1 (1956); the use of experimental sonorities and atonality in his Nueve: Double Bass Concerto (1971); chromatic tonality in his Violin Concerto, "Winter" (1991); and dramatic scene painting in They Rode Into the Sunset: Music for an Imaginary Film (2009). Add to this the colorful Tango en Azul (2001) and Casi un Tango (2002), which display his affection for South American music, and Serebrier's portrait shows his great versatility in many musical idioms, as well as his non-doctrinaire approach to music. There is a common freedom of rhythm and lyrical feeling to his melodies, and he is quite fluid in his use of dissonances and tonal harmonies, so there is a consistency of technique in his music, if a less obvious continuity of style. Serebrier conducts his works with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, and his passion and energy are almost tangible in their vivid playing. The sound of these recordings is excellent, with a wide frequency range and brilliant colors from the soloists and the orchestra, so all the performers are heard to their best advantage.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson