Intermusica Artists' Management

 

 

Intermusica represents Martyn Brabbins worldwide

Manager:
Susie McLeod

Assistant to Artist Manager:
Sana Khan

Other Links:

Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra

Nagoya Philharmonic

Martyn Brabbins

Conductor

British conductor Martyn Brabbins is Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic, Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic and Music Director to the Huddersfield Choral Society. He was previously Artistic Director of the Cheltenham International Festival of Music 2005-2007 and Associate Principal Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra 1994-2005. After studying composition in London and then conducting with Ilya Musin in Leningrad, he won first prize at the 1988 Leeds Conductors' Competition. Since then he has become a frequent guest with leading orchestras across the globe.

Brabbins is known for his affinity with music of the late 19th/early 20th centuries, to which he brings a Romantic sensibility, unerring sense of pace and an extraordinary ear for detail. He is closely associated with British music, and has conducted hundreds of world premieres by leading international composers. Recent guesting highlights have included debuts with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra and at La Scala Milan, and at the First Night of the BBC Proms with the BBC Symphony (shared with Elder, Norrington and Gardner).

In July 2014 he conducts the combined forces of the Royal Scottish National and the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestras at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, and returns to the Proms with the BBC Symphony for Walton Symphony No.1. Later in 2014/15 he conducts Brahms and Strauss with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Cadogan Hall, and Vaughan Williams with the Philharmonia. He returns to the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony to conduct Walton symphonies at Suntory Hall and Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre. Then at New Year he tours to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

In recent months he debuted at the Bavarian State Opera (Korngold/Ravel), returned to Lyon (A Dog’s Heart) and Antwerp (Blaubart), and conducted Birtwistle’s Gawain at the Barbican with the BBC Symphony. In 2014/15 he conducts a new production of Strauss’ Die Schweigsame Frau in Essen and a world premiere at Oper Frankfurt, plays a pivotal role at the 2015 Cardiff Singer of the World competition, and performs Boris Godunov with Sir John Tomlinson in the title role.

He has recorded over 104 CDs, ranging from Romantic to contemporary repertoire, winning the Gramophone Award for Birtwistle’s Mask of Orpheus with the BBC Symphony (NMC) and the Cannes Opera Award for Korngold's Die Kathrin with the BBC Concert Orchestra (CPO). More than 50 of his discs have been recorded for Hyperion, many of them with the BBC Scottish Symphony, most recently his acclaimed recordings of the Walton symphonies (2011) and Hindemith orchestral works (2013). His recording of Jonathan Harvey’s Wagner Dream was awarded the ‘Grand Prix du Disque’ in the opera category 2013.

Martyn Brabbins is represented by Intermusica.
July 2014 / 440 words. Not to be altered without permission. Please contact us if this biography is out of date.

Selected discography

LATEST RECORDING:

Oswald
Napoleão  
The Romantic Piano Concerto 64   
Piano Concerto in G minor
Piano Concerto in E flat minor
Hyperion 67984


Bainbridge, Simon
Ad Ora Incerta
BBC Symphony Orchestra; Susan Bickley (mezzo soprano); Nash Ensemble
NMC 059
Bax
London Pageant
Various Orchestral Works
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Chandos 9879
Bax
To the Name above every name
Various Orchestral Works
Huddersfield Choral Society
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Chandos 9879
Bainton / Clifford
Various Orchestral Works
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra
Chandos 10019
Beamish, Sally
Violin Concerto (1994)
Callisto, concerto for flute and orchestra (2005)
Symphony No.1 (1992)
EAN 7318590016015
Bedford, David
Recorder Concerto
BBC Symphony Orchestra, Piers Adams (recorder)
NMC 045
Birtwistle
The Mask of Orpheus
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Gramophone Award Winner
NMC
Birtwistle
The Woman and the Hare
Nash Ensemble; Claron McFadden (soprano)
Nominated for a Gramophone Award 2003
Black Box 1046
Bliss
A Knot of Riddles; The Tempest
Nash Ensemble
Hyperion 67188/9 
2 CDs
Bortkiewicz
Symphonies No.1, Op.52 and No.2, Op.55
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 67338
Brian, Havergal
Symphony No.10
Symphony No.30
Concerto for Orchestra
English Suite No.3
Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Dutton CDLX 7267
Brian, Havergal       Violin Concerto
Symphony No.13
English Suite No.4
The Tinker's Wedding
Royal National Symphony Orchestra
Dutton 
CDLX 7296
Brian, Havergal
Symphony No.1 in D minor The Gothic
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
BBC Concert Orchestra
Hyperion 67971/2
Britten
Britten on Film
Coal Face, Night Mail & other film scores
Birmingham Contemporary Music Society
City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
Choir of King Edward’s School, Birmingham
Simon Russell Beale (narrator), Mary Carewe (soprano)
NMC D112
Britten
War Requiem
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Naxos 553558/9
Bowen
Forsyth
Viola Concerto in C minor, Op.25
Viola Concerto in G minor
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Lawrence Power (viola)
Hyperion 67546
Butler, Martin
Fixed Doubles
BBC Symphony Orchestra
NMC 047
Mackenzie, Sir Alexander Campbell

Burns
Overture to the Cricket on the Hearth
Twelfth Night
Benedictus
Second Scottish Rhapsody
Incidental Music from Coriolanus

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Fox (soprano), Paul Whelan (baritone)
Hyperion 66764
Coles
Comedy of Errors; Fra Giacomo
Scherzo in A minor; Four Verlaine Songs
From the Scottish Highlands
Behind the Lines

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Sarah Fox (soprano), Paul Whelan (baritone)
Hyperion 67293
Crosse, Gordon
Memories of Morning: Night
BBC Symphony Orchestra; Susan Bickley
NMC 058
Elgar
Symphony No.1
Kingdom: Prelude
Flemish Radio Orchestra
Glossa GCDSA 922204
El-Khoury, Bechara
New York, Tears and Hope ‘In Memory of the Victims of 9/11’
The Rivers Engulfed
London Symphony Orchestra
Daniel Harding (conductor)
Naxos 8.570134
Elias, Brian
Four Poems of Irina Ratushinskaya
BBC Symphony Orchestra; Mary King (mezzo soprano)
NMC 064
Elias, Brian
The House that Jack Built
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Tim Mirfin (Bass)
NMC D173
Finnissy, Michael
Red Earth
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
NMC 040
Goves
Just Stuff People Do
London Sinfonietta
NMCD 198
Gilson
Orchestral Works
Flemish Radio Orchestra
Klara Etcetera KTC4017
Gregson
Clarinet Concerto, Violin Concerto, Orchestral works BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Michael Collins (clarinet), Olivier Charlier (violin)
Chandos 10105
Haddad, Saed
Les deux visages de l’orient
Etudes mysterieuses
Le contrédesir
The Sublime
On Love I
On Love II

Wergo WER65782
Harvey, Jonathan
Wagner Dream
Ictus Ensemble & Solo Voices
Cypres
CYP5624
Hellawell, Piers
Inside Story; Quadruple Elegy
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Clio Gould (violin), Philip Dukes (viola)
Metronome 1059
Henderickx, Wim
Tejas (What does the sound of the universe look like?)
Skriet
Le visioni di paura
Variations
Royal Flemish Philharmonic
RFP 003
Hindemith
The Complete Works for Viola Vol I
Der Schwanendreher
Konzertmusik, Op.48
Kammermusik No.5, Op.36, No.4
Philharmonia Orchestra; Paul Cortese (viola)
ASV 931
Hindemith
The Complete Works for Viola Vol III
Sonatas for Viola and Piano Op.11, No.4; Op.25, No.4; in C major; Trauermusik; Nobilissima visione: Meditation
Philharmonia Orchestra / Paul Cortese & Jordi Vilaprinyó (viola)
ASV 978
Holloway, Robin
Fantasy Pieces
Nash Ensemble
Hyperion
Hoyland, Vic
In Transit
BBC Symphony Orchestra
NMC 072
Keal, Minna
Cello Concerto
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Alexander Baillie (cello)
NMC 048
Korngold
Die Kathrin
BBC Concert Orchestra
Opera Category Winner, Cannes
CPO 999602
Kuula, Toivo
Songs and Orchestral Music
BBC Concert Orchestra
Susan Gritton (Soprano)
Dutton
CDLX 7272
Lamond
Overture to 'Esther', Op 8
Symphony in A major, Op 3
Eine Liebe im schottischen Hochlande
Extract: Sword Dance
Dutton
CDLX 7272
Leighton
Symphony No.1
Piano Concerto No.3
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Howard Shelley (piano)
Chandos 10608
Lloyd, Jonathan
Symphony No.4
BBC Symphony Orchestra
NMC 046
Lumsdaine, David
White Dawn
Sounds and Landscape
Lesley-Jane Rogers (soprano), John Turner (recorders)
Peter Lawson (piano), Gemini
Metier
MSV 28519
MacCunn, Hamish
Land of the Mountain and the Flood
The Ship ’o the Fiend
The Dowie Dens o’ Yarrow
Jeanie Deans
The Lay of the Last Minstrel

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 66815
Mackenzie
The Cricket on the Hearth and other pieces
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 66764
MacMillan
Raising Sparks
Nash Ensemble; Jean Rigby (mezzo soprano)
Black Box 1067
Matthews, David
Symphony No.1
Symphony No.3
Symphony No.5
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Dutton Laboratories 7222
Mortelmans
Homerische Symfonie
Morgenstemming
Mythe der lente
Royal Flemish Philharmonic
Hyperion 67766
Moszkowski

Karlowicz

Concerto for Violin in C major, Op. 30
Concertstücke (2) for Violin and Piano, Op.16: No.1
Concerto for Violin in A major, Op. 8
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Tasmin Little
Hyperion 67389
Nash, Peter Paul
Symphony No.1
BBC Symphony Orchestra
NMC 055
John Pickard
The Flight of Icarus, The Spindle of Necessity, Channel Firing
Norrköping Symphony Orchestra
BIS
Rachmaninov
Scriabin
Piano Concerto No.3
Piano Concerto
Radio-Philharmonie Hannover des NDR
Artur Pizarro (piano)
Collins Classics 15052
Samuel, Adolphe
Jongen, Joseph
Symphony No.6
Three Symphonic Movements
Royal Flemish Philharmonic
RFP 6
Scott, C.
Symphony No.3 , Piano Concerto No.2, Neptune
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra / Howard Shelley (piano)
Chandos 10211
Shostakovich
Shostakovich – Complete Works for Cello
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Raphael Wallfisch (cello), John York (Piano)
Nimbus NI5764-5
Taylor, Matthew
String Quartet No. 3
Piano Trio
Conflict and Consolation
Members of the BBC Symphony Orchestra
Schidlof Quartet
Lowbury Piano Trio
Toccata Classics TOCC 0015
Tippett
Piano Concerto
Fantasia on a Theme of Handel
Piano Sonatas
Hyperion Classics 67461/2
Andrew Toovey
Red Icon
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Largo 56635
Vaughan Williams

John McEwan

Flos Campi
Suite for Viola and Small Orchestra
Viola Concerto
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
Lawrence Power viola
Hyperion 67839
Wallace, William
Symphonic Poem No.5’
Villon ' Symphonic Poem No.6'
The Passing of Beatrice ‘Symphonic Poem No.1’
Sister Helen 'Symphonic Poem No.3'
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 66987
Wallace
Prelude to the Eumenides; Creation Symphony, Pelléas and Mélisande Suite
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 66938
Walton
Symphony No.1 in B flat minor
Siesta
Symphony No.2
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion 67794
Warlock, Peter
Capriol Suite
Nash Ensemble
Hyperion 66938
Weir, Judith
The Welcome Arrival of Rain, Natural History, Moon and Star, Forest, Heroic Strokes of the Bow
BBC Symphony Orchestra
NMC
John Woolrich
The Ghost in the Machine
Oboe Concerto, Viola Concerto
BBC Symphony Orchestra
Nicholas Daniel (oboe), Lars Anders Tomter (viola)
NMC 071
Parry, Stanford, Finzi, Gurney
English Orchestral Songs
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Christopher Maltman
Hyperion
Various
Concerti II 
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin / GrauSchumacher Piano Duo
NEOS 21302
Various
English Orchestral Songs 
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Christopher Maltman (baritone)
Hyperion 67065
Various
Music for Saxophone & Orchestra
Philharmonia Orchestra / Theodore Kerkezos (saxophone)
Naxos 8557063
Various
The Romantic Piano Concerto
Volumes 7, 12, 13, 16, 19, 20, 23, 25, 28, 30, 31, 46, 54
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion
Various
The Romantic Violin Concerto
Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
Hyperion
Zemlinsky,   
Alexander
Symphonies
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
           Hyperion
CDA67985

For further details, please refer to the full discography by clicking on the "Download Martyn Brabbins resources" tab at the top of the page.

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BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Wagner, Strauss, Elgar
“He opened with a clear, ungushy account of Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll: the playing was light, the inner parts lucid, the strings beautifully soft and grainy. The programme closed with a sober, thoughtful account of Elgar’s Enigma Variations. There was no syrupy veneer; the sound was dark and gravelly, there was anguish to the opening theme and unusual weight to many of the variations. Nimrod was quietly emphatic; the finale was stately and cathartic.”
Guardian, September 2014

Frankfurt Opera / Rolf Riehm Sirenen - Bilder des Begehrens und des Vernichtens
“The Frankfurt Opera and Museum Orchestra under the direction of British conductor Martyn Brabbins presented Riehm's score with great clarity – aided by Riehm's extremely transparent notation.”
Hamburger Abendblatt, September 2014

BBC Proms / BBC Symphony Orchestra / Walton, Gurney & Beamish
"Martyn Brabbins’s cool, considered performance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra captured the fragility of an era… almost French in its supple elegance… Walton’s first symphony, written with a Straussian facility for colour and perfume, ricochets between sullen fury and chisel-jawed triumph. Brabbins’s crisp, clean direction, the heavy sweetness of solo flute and clarinet, and flamboyantly trilling horns combined to dazzling effect."
Times, August 2014

“Walton’s First Symphony is an extraordinary and original piece, and this interpretation by Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Symphony Orchestra captured its volcanic energy…The symphony generates extraordinary power from a modest orchestra, and there was a dramatic thrust throughout this performance. Martyn Brabbins was an urgent presence on the podium, driving the long crescendo at the end of the first movement remorselessly.”
The Arts Desk, August 2014

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Birtwistle Gawain
“astonishing clarity and unerring sense of dramatic shape… the performance under Brabbins was in many respects exceptional.”
Guardian, May 2014

“A stunning account of Gawain (1991) won a standing ovation for the composer, as well as for the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the conductor Martyn Brabbins and an exemplary cast”
Observer, June 2014

“Masterfully marshalled by Brabbins with a rock-steady beat, it was clarity at all times and Gawain’s rather ambiguous soundworld sprang to life…. Matching the excellence of the BBCSO were the singers.”
Classical Source, May 2014

“The music, however, in all its dark, unremitting intensity, was extremely well served by an extended BBCSO, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, and outstanding soloists”
The Arts Desk, May 2014

“This was an outstanding musical performance”
Times, May 2014

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Shepherd, Gershwin, Ives
“Brabbins produced a seriously sophisticated, warm, intense, open hearted, highly integrated account of the great symphony, dazzlingly played by the SSO, and at once revealing the bombast behind the superficially electrifying impact in Leonard Bernstein's legendary, blood on the floor recording of the symphony and the sheer symphonic mastery of the work. Stunning.”
Herald, March 2014

“BBC SSO [were] on exceptionally vivid form under Martyn Brabbins…they ended with a beautifully crafted reading of Ives’s Second Symphony. Brabbins pulled off the touching slow movement with nobility and unassuming confidence, and he handled the tumult of competing quotations that end the symphony with mischievous yet thoroughly convincing glee. All in all, a concert of revelations."
Scotsman, March 2014

BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Zemlinsky: Symphonies
Hyperion CDA67985

“Dass die Sinfonien hier diesen “erwachsenen” Eindruck machen, ist nicht zuletzt Martyn Brabbins zu verdanken, der sie detail- und facettenreich und mit Bestimmtheit vorfuehrt. Er zeigt an ihnen weniger die Fortfuehrung herrschender Traditionen, als die Naehe zum Ton des Fin de siècle. Gerade den Bruchstellen, an denen Modernes das Traditionelle zu infiltrieren scheint, gilt seine Aufmaerksamkeit. Die BBC-Philharmoniker aus Wales verwirklichen Brabbins’ Ansatz mit vorzueglichem Orchesterspiel.”

“We have Martyn Brabbins to thank, for bringing out the maturity of these symphonies, by his close attention to detail and nuance. He reveals them to be, not so much a continuation of the status quo, but a precursor of the sounds of Fin de Siecle. He focuses attention particularly on the breaking points where modernity undermines tradition. The BBC National Orchestra of Wales realise Brabbins’ vision with excellent orchestral playing.”
Fono Forum, May 2014

“The works have only been recorded a few times before and this new disc on Hyperion surpasses most of its predecessors.”
Sydsvenskan, March 2014

“Martyn Brabbins has a strong empathy for Zemlinsky’s musical language, demonstrating a masterly control of pacing in each movement. Perhaps in his Decca recording of the B flat Symphony, Riccardo Chailly offers a more highly charged view of the first movement, but elsewhere there is little to choose between the two performances. In any case, the present release can be confidently recommended for the refined and subtle playing of the BBC NOW and a recording that achieves an ideal balance between textural clarity and Romantic warmth.”
BBC Music Magazine, March 2014

Lyon Opera / Raskatov A Dog’s Heart
“…la musique d’Alexander Raskatov, merveilleusement servie par la direction musicale de Martyn Brabbins, et la qualité exceptionnelle d’interprétation des solistes et des chœurs….un triomphe mérité.”
Le Trois Coups, January 2014

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Hindemith: Orchestral Works
Hyperion CDA68006

“The BBC Scottish SO audibly relish the challenges of each work and turn in immaculate performances of each….Brabbins’ interpretations have good rhythmic thrust and drive”
Gramophone, January 2014

“Brabbins and co relish the contrast between abrasive, declaratory brass and singing, soaring strings in the Konzertmusik…The Mathis is entirely worthy of this oft-recorded masterpiece, but the Weber Metamorphosis is the highlight, one of Hindemith’s most attractive works, delivered with rhythmic bite and colouristic flair.”
Sunday Times, December 2013

“a superbly trenchant and lyrical reading; the brass is both sonorous and gleaming and the strings are rich and deep…It all helps to really appreciate a superb piece of music, full of passion and energy, here given with a full tank and total clarity.

My yardstick is Claudio Abbado’s brilliant LSO taping for Decca, which Brabbins comes damn close to matching…”
Classical Source, December 2013

London Sinfonietta and Royal Academy of Music / Stockhausen and Nono
The London Sinfonietta and the Royal Academy of Music’s Manson Ensemble, with three conductors — Martyn Brabbins, Baldur Brönnimann and Geoffrey Paterson — pulled off a remarkable feat of ensemble, precision and sheer virtuoso performing skills…Between each performance we heard from Stockhausen’s contemporary, Luigi Nono. a wonderfully fluid, lyrical performance of his Canti per 13 (1955), and of Polifonia-Monodia-Ritmica (1951), both directed by Brabbins with minute and meticulous sensitivity.
Times, October 2013

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Glinka, Britten and Tchaikovsky
“Brabbins established anguish from the start, drawing swells of emotion in the opening clarinet theme where many conductors stick to buttoned-up stoicism. The honesty was touching: even radiant moments had a clenched-teeth quality that made them intriguing. The first movement ended abruptly and inconclusively; agitation at the start of the Andante made David Flack's horn solo float all the more gloriously in contrast, and Brabbins accentuated the off-kilter lilt of the Valse so that trouble never seemed far off. Even the sunny finale was shot through with foreboding and an ironic twist.”
The Herald, September 2013

Norrköping Symphony Orchestra / John Pickhard Piano Concerto; Sea-Change; Tenebrae
“This may be one of the most important contemporary orchestral CDs of 2013…. Martyn Brabbins puts plenty of fire into the Norrköping players in presenting this full-blooded, ferociously positive music. BIS’s sonics are first-rate. An absolute triumph.”
BBC Music Magazine online, July 2013

Royal Flemish Philharmonic / A. Samuel: Symphony No.6 & J. Jongen: Three Symphonic Movements
“The commitment from the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under Martyn Brabbins and the playing of the powerful symphony leaves a lasting impression, and the publication is very welcome.The music is inventive and brilliantly orchestrated…both pieces are brilliantly played by the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, conducted by Principal Guest Conductor Martyn Brabbins.”
Pizzicato, July 2013

Grange Park Opera / Eugene Onegin
“In further contrast to Covent Garden’s recent, feeble Onegin, this one is also lucidly conducted. Martyn Brabbins, in charge of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, finds the natural ebb and flow in Tchaikovsky’s score and is instinctive in his support of the cast.”
Independent, July 2013

“[Martyn Brabbins] coaxed passionate playing from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra”.
Times, June 2013

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Tippett Symphony No.2, Beethoven Violin Concerto, Simpson A Mirror-fragment
“Brabbins, undersung hero of the conducting world, could not have brought more vital phrasing and brilliant colours to the orchestral role in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto… Brabbins and the orchestra met with impeccable focused energy the pounding low Cs of the Vivaldi-inspired opening (of Tippett 2) with horns vibrant above and strings flurrying in ecstatic complexity.”
The Arts Desk, April 2013

“brilliant orchestral textures and taut phrasings sculpted by Brabbins (Beethoven violin concerto)… Diligent intelligence: that’s what we heard from soloist and orchestra — a welcome change from interpretations swamped by star egos.

Then Tippett’s nervous energy and warmth left us invigorated in the best of his symphonies, No 2. …Brabbins and his happy band mostly found the perfect balance between rhythmic drive, sunshine colours and luxuriant lyrical display.”
Times, April 2013

Frankfurt Opera & Museum Orchestra / Weber Euryanthe Overture, Britten Piano Concerto & Brahms Piano Quartet No. 1 arr. Schoenberg
“Der Englaender arbeitete strukturelle Feinheiten so konsequent heraus, dass man sich von der Modernitaet und vor allem Qualitaet der Brahmsschen Verarbeitungstechnik ueberzeugen konnte. … Mit derart entfesseltem Schwung endete das Konzert, das ganz aehnlich begonnen hatte, denn auch di zu Beginn vorgetragene ouvertuere zur Oper "Euryanthe" von Carl Maria von Weber op.81 workt temporeich und “angriffslustig” virtuos.”

“The Englishman brought out the structural refinements with such skill, that he could persuade us of the modernity and above all the quality of this arrangement … The concert ended with glorious abandon, as it had begun, since right from the start of the Euryanthe Overture by Weber, the effect was one of winning virtuosity and rich variety of tempo.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine, January 2013

“…ein Orchesterliebhaber zweifellos, so vollplastisch und kraeftig gefaerbt liess er die bestens eingestimmten Museums-Musiker glaenzen. …So viel Brahms’sche Fitness wie hier erlebt man selten einmal. Kraftstrotzend und kerngesund an Leib und Seele trat der intrikate Gruebler auf, und das Museumsorchester als sein mit allen Wassern der Kunst des musikalischen Muskelaufbaus gewaschener Trainer.”

“Brabbins clearly revels in the orchestral soundworld, and allowed the excellent musicians to shine by bringing out the vibrant colours and textures … One seldom hears such athletic Brahms. The intricate passagework was played with glowing health in body and mind …”
Frankfurter Rundschau, January 2013

“..eine prazise und praechtig zupackende Art des Dirigierens – entsprechen beherzt das Ergebnis… Lob fuer Dirigent und Orchester.”

“A precise and gloriously exciting way of conducting which yielded great results… Bravo to conductor and orchestra.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse, January 2013

BBC NOW / Frank Bridge The Sea and Britten Violin Concerto
“The suite is full of rich, effulgent colours that positively glowed under the generous sweep of Brabbins' performance. Its sumptuousness also contrasted nicely with the astringency of Britten's Concerto.”
Guardian, January 2013

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Bartók Piano Concerto No. 1
“Conductor Martyn Brabbins held things together with glowing confidence, and the BBC SSO responded with hugely energetic playing, sometimes brooding, sometimes spiky.”
The Scotsman, December 2012

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Bartók Piano Concerto No. 2 and Miraculous Mandarin Suite & Hindemith Trauermusik
“As ever, Martyn Brabbins's conducting was cool-headed, bright-tempered and direct… Brabbins brought out the best of Hindemith's busy inner lines and jazz-tinged inflections.”
The Herald Scotland, December 2012

“Never far away from Bartok’s rough, tough, sound world – this was an hour of gut-wrenching savagery – were nagging echoes of Petrushka and the Rite of Spring. But let’s not play down the biting originality of Bartok, which conductor Martyn Brabbins captured from the word go – a performance of the ballet suite that opened with electrifying energy, but found equal scope to explore those sensuous episodes that fill this score with substance and soul.”
The Scotsman, December 2012

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Hindemith Klaviermusik mit Orchester and Mathis der Maler & Bartók Dance Suite and Piano Concerto No. 3
“As ever, Martyn Brabbins's conducting was cool-headed, bright-tempered and direct… Brabbins brought out the best of Hindemith's busy inner lines and jazz-tinged inflections.”
The Herald Scotland, December 2012

“Brabbins led beautifully sonorous, highly idiomatic performances of the opening and closing pieces – Bartók’s giddy Dance Suite and Hindemith’s serious-minded Mathis der Maler Symphony.”
The Scotsman, December 2012

“Hindemith's symphony Mathis der Maler and Bartók's Dance Suite and Third Piano Concerto were tackled with grit, dark wit and empathy. This is ideal repertoire for the BBCSSO, with its beefy lower strings, its bright, biting brass and searing violins. Brabbins approached the tricksy rhythms of the Dance Suite with cool-blooded directness.”
Guardian, December 2012

“A blazing account of Hindemith's Mathis der Maler Symphony, a performance that put meat on the bones of the piece and drive in its rhythmic propulsion.”
The Herald Scotland, December 2012

English National Opera / Vaughan Williams The Pilgrim’s Progress
"Martyn Brabbins a dirigé avec passion un ouvrage pareil à une lente fresque musicale.The Pilgrim's Progress peut ne pas plaire à tout le monde, mais pour ses admirateurs, c’était le paradis – où les vœux du compositeur étaient enfin exaucés."

"Martyn Brabbins conducted with passion like a slow musical fresco. Pilgrim's Progress cannot please everyone, but for fans, it was paradise - where the composer's wishes were finally answered."
Concert Classic, December 2012

“Brabbins, the hero of the evening, conducted a performance of quality and heart, with few weaknesses anywhere in the cast, the outstanding chorus (trained by Martin Fitzpatrick) or the coruscating ENO orchestra.”
Observer, November 2012

“The great strength of English National Opera’s new staging, under Martyn Brabbins’s exemplary musical direction, is that it does full justice to this long-neglected score. The orchestra plays beautifully.”
Times, November 2012

“Every nuance was captured by Martyn Brabbins and his superb orchestra.”
Daily Mail, November 2012

“Martyn Brabbins unfailingly captures the spiritual ecstasy of a score that often shows the composer at his most inspired.”
Evening Standard, November 2012

“Martyn Brabbins clearly believes in the score's quality and conducts it with wonderful breadth and assurance; the orchestra and chorus make it seem sumptuous… Anyone with the slightest interest in 20th-century English music should seize this opportunity to see one of its real landmark works.”
Guardian, November 2012

“A rapt audience hailed it as a quiet triumph. Key to its success is not only the committed musical interpretation authoritatively conducted by Martyn Brabbins, but a maturely sensitive and often gently beautiful production directed by Yoshi Oida… The chorus sings with a radiant glow and Brabbins’s orchestra provides the bedrock for a performance that shines like a beacon in the night.”

“Brabbins conducts a warm, surging performance of a score that adds up to a compendium of all the composer’s stylistic fingerprints.”
Daily Telegraph, November 2012

“In ENO’s hands, Vaughan Williams’s ‘unstageable’ Pilgrim’s Progress is a musical triumph… it has an entirely characteristic, mature Vaughan Williams score, which can surely never have had a more impassioned advocate than Martyn Brabbins. His conducting vindicates this Bunyan-based “mora-lity”, as Vaughan Williams called it… All in all, the final impression, thanks mostly to Brabbins and the company spirit he engenders, is of a significant ENO achievement.”
Sunday Times, November 2012

“Wood apart, the plaudits audits must go to conductor Martyn Brabbins and his wonderful brass, to the chorus.”
Independent, November 2012

“Martyn Brabbins is one of several heirs apparent to the mantle of Hickox and Vernon Handley in championing British music and his conducting of the ENO Orchestra was sublime, balancing the poignancy of the Pilgrim’s nobility with the darker, knottier music, which draws on his ‘war symphonies’ Nos. 4 and 6. With string playing of heart-breaking warmth, the orchestra put in another tremendous performance.”
Opera Britannia, November 2012

“Musically, the heroes of this production are Martyn Brabbins and the orchestra.”
The Spectator, November 2012

“The vast forces that have been harnessed by ENO for The Pilgrim’s Progress combine to a staggering level of distinction. Leading the way under Martyn Brabbins’s assured and purposeful conducting is Roland Wood… the musical interludes (which the ENO Orchestra played with heartfelt engagement) …”
Classical Source, November 2012

“ENO’s orchestra were the heroes of occasion, with inspiring, sonorous playing under the unflinching baton of Martyn Brabbins.”
Opera Now, November 2012

“Besides Roland Wood the other hero of the evening is Martyn Brabbins. Long an admired conductor of English music, here he more than justifies that reputation… Boult, Hickox and Kennaway have all been notable exponents of this wonderful score and now Martyn Brabbins assuredly joins their company.”
Seen & Heard International, November 2012

“Under Martyn Brabbins’ direction the score was excellently paced with fine-tuned orchestral balance.”
Bach Track, November 2012

“The orchestra sounds ravishing under Martyn Brabbins… The final word must go to Martyn Brabbins for leading the orchestra through the swoops and surges of the music, and for creating those magical moments when the orchestra falls silent leaving the solo vocal line to sound on.”
The Londonist, November 2012

Royal Flemish Philharmonic / Vaughan Williams London Symphony
“Avec intensité mais sans débordement d’énergie, Martyn Brabbins restitue le souffle et exalte la richesse mélodique de la London Symphony (1912). Un sentiment de cohérence et d’équilibre domine cette exécution remarquablement tenue.”

"With intensity but full of energy, Martyn Brabbins restores breath and enhances the melodic richness of the London Symphony (1912). A sense of coherence and balance dominates this performance remarkably kept."
Concerto.net, November 2012

London Symphony Orchestra / Elgar Symphony No. 3
“Brabbins… shaped an exceptional performance, totally convincing, and magnificently played… Brabbins and the LSO here served up something truly great, an altogether special and epic ‘Elgar 3’, a mix of being disturbed and exhilarated. It should have been recorded…”
Classical Source, September 2012

BBC Symphony Orchestra & Chorus / BBC Proms: Howells & Elgar
“Brabbins, conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, drew from its Preludio an impassioned cumulative crescendo of pain. […] Brabbins’ command of the sheer span and visionary intensity of the work was admirable, as was his direction of the brightly coloured and vividly detailed performance of Elgar’s First Symphony which followed.”
Times, August 2012

“In [Howell’s Hymnus Paradisi]’s first Proms performance, given by the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins, it registered as a masterpiece... it provided a profound counterweight to Elgar's complex but ultimately optimistic First Symphony in the second half – a performance that grew in stature as it progressed.”
Guardian, August 2012

“This long work (Howells) didn’t feel so, thanks to the intensity with which it had been forged, and the beauty of the effects which Brabbins drew from his performers. Elgar’s First Symphony, which followed, was delivered with spacious assurance.”
Independent, August 2012

“Pace again was brisk without feeling rushed, but generating an organic sense of development and flow between sections. The opening string cantilena was warmly sung, restrained enough to give the orchestra somewhere to grow to over the next hour, and grow they did. The brass contributed some fantastically grotesque colours for the scherzo, and the whole symphony had a natural shape that kept the overarching journey in mind while never losing the drama of the miniature moments.”
The Arts Desk, August 2012

“Brabbins led a searching performance, which cut through to the heart of the work, delivering its meaning with a wonderful clarity.”
Bach Track, September 2012

 Nash Ensemble / BBC Proms: Schoenberg
“Brabbins's stop-start elision of the songs was true to Schoenberg's often baffling performance directions, chipped fragments of sonata da chiesa bass-lines bleeding into sentimental schmaltz or crude polka. The precision and tonal beauty of the ensemble's playing only intensified the sense of alienation, achieving with a handful of musicians a derangement more disturbing than the shrieking moral panic of Salome.”
Independent, September 2012

Ictus Ensemble / Harvey Wagner Dream (Cypres Recording)
"The inspirational conducting of Martyn Brabbins…“
International Record Review, June 2012

“Recorded in Amsterdam in 2007, this set should win the work many friends… The conducting by Martyn Brabbins is superb.”
BBC Music Magazine, five stars, April 2012

Opera de Lyon / Ravel L’Enfant & Zemlinsky Der Zwerg
“The orchestra is led by the masterful hand of Martyn Brabbins, at ease with Ravel’s diaphanous colours and Zemlinsky’s luxurious sound-world.”
Le Progrès, May 2012

“Soudain l'orchestre est opulent et vénéneux, Martyn Brabbins l'emmène loin dans ce chef-d'œuvre où Zemlinsky a dessiné son autoportrait.”
Concert Classic, May 2012

Vlaamse Opera / Christian Jost Rumor
"Martyn Brabbins animiert das Orchester mit dem dichten Tonsatz zu einer intensive Leistung"
SWR Kultur Aktuell, NMZ.de.online, May 2012

"L’orchestre du Vlaamse Opera, excellemment dirigé par Martyn Brabbins"
La Libre Belgique, May 2012

"Dirigent Martyn Brabbins zweepte het orkest passioneel op en het ensemble"
De Standaard, May 2012

BBC National Orchestra of Wales, BBC Concert Orchestra et al. / Havergal Brian Symphony No. 1 The Gothic (Hyperion)
“The good news is that this one [recording of the work], recorded live during last year’s BBC Proms, is the best yet. There’s an ongoing buzz of Proms atmosphere that grips from start to finish; and the recorded sound succeeds phenomenally at somehow fitting Brian’s hugest climaxes alongside the delicate scoring of other passages into a convincing perspective. Under Brabbins’ forthright direction, even the work’s poorer passages don’t sprawl, while the best surge with superb orchestral playing right across the board… Memorable listening indeed.”
BBC Music Magazine, February 2012

“The present [recording of The Gothic] I can unequivocally confirm – far and away the finest it has received… Hyperion’s release is a perfect one, of a great event, a magisterial work and an encapsulation of the enormous difficulties of the project as a whole… Brabbins’ [reading of the work] emphasising the kaleidoscopic variety of speeds, texture and invention in the score… I cannot recommend it strongly enough.”
Gramophone, February 2012

“This release looks set to be the primary recommendation well into the future: conveying the fullest extent yet of a flawed masterpiece that risks so much in staking out the listener’s awareness of its greatness.”
International Record Review, “Outstanding”, January 2012

“A final track of applause lasting nearly nine minutes isn’t excessive after a symphonic expanse of an hour and three quarters. As ideas tumble forth in Havergal Brian’s epic scheme, you cannot help admiring his fervour in getting it all down on paper. It remains one of the oddities of the English symphonic repertoire, but Martyn Brabbins and his legions of players and singers do it proud.”
Daily Telegraph, December 2011

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jonathan Harvey Wagner Dream
“Under Martyn Brabbins, each flicker of light from the orchestra had clarity and purpose, while Booth, Andrew Staples and Roderick Williams sang with poise and grace.”
Independent, February 2012

“The BBC Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins played beautifully.”
Observer, February 2012

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jonathan Harvey Total Immersion
“There was drama and darkness in plenty, above all in Madonna of Winter and Spring, the big orchestral-and-electronic piece that filled the second half of the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s concert. In the first movement, entitled “Conflict”, the orchestra and conductor Martyn Brabbins projected the leaping rhythms with amazing vividness. So when the radiant stillness of the final movement, “Mary” arrived, the effect was all the more heavenly.”
Daily Telegraph, five stars, February 2012

“… All credit, therefore, to Martyn Brabbins, abetted by a committed response from the BBC Symphony Orchestra, for steering so focussed and compelling a course through the near 40-minutes – bringing out many of the motivic connections that help pull these diverse sections together, and with even a hint of earlier ideas being reprised as the final section heads to its ethereal closing minutes – during which, it might be noted, the audience was as silent and concentrated as could be wished: proof that the aims of Harvey’s music were fulfilled.”
Classical Source, February 2012

BBC Concert Orchestra / Kuula Vocal & Orchestral Works (Dutton Epoch)
“An enthralling disc.”
Gramophone, February 2012

“…an excellent sampling of Kuula’s orchestra works […] Brabbins and the BBC Concert Orchestra generate no little heat: the joy of discovery pervades these performances.”
International Record Review, “Outstanding”, October 2011

BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Works for Viola and Orchestra by McEwen & Vaughan Williams (Hyperion)
“… Brabbins, who exercises his usual imaginative flair and masterly orchestral control in this repertoire. This is a ‘must have’ for all lovers of Vaughan Williams and British music in General!”
Gramophone, December 2011

BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Brahms & Zemlinsky
“His approach to Zemlinsky's First Symphony was insightful, pointing up its symphonic workings, as well as underlining both the technical facility and the fertile imagination that would emerge so powerfully in the Lyric Symphony and Die Seejungfrau. Yet it was a sense of great emotional undercurrent that Brabbins brought out most vividly...”
Guardian, December 2011

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Walton Symphonies No. 1, 2 & Siesta (Hyperion) 
“Martyn Brabbins, excelling himself, directs a reading that far more than usual conveys comparable electricity, helped by superb playing from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and a vivid recording quality. To complete the picture, this account of the First even rivals the classic Previn version of the 1960s.”
Gramophone, Editor’s Choice, December 2011

“This version of the First Symphony even rivals the version that André Previn and the LSO recorded for RCA in 1966…What is so good about the new Hyperion performances is the control of tension… Brabbins is masterly in such passages, and equally so in the haunted slow movement, the emotional core of the piece… This is the most powerful account of this three-movement work [Second Symphony] that I can remember.”
Gramophone, September 2011

“There is room for a flagship digital recording of the great First Symphony, popular though its recorded history may be – and Martyn Brabbins can justifiably lay claim to having made it. This is an exhilarating performance that fully harnesses the energy of the piece, helped greatly by judicious tempo choices... Brabbins is supported in his cause by truly excellent playing from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, not least brass and timpani, the former drilled and incisive, the latter adding important depth. The ‘malicious’ scherzo is particularly fleet of foot and has rarely sounded so good on record and fair leaps out of the speakers. The first movement, too, is exceptionally well-judged, the atmospheric start laying the groundwork for the rhythmic motifs to gradually impose themselves. Nor does Brabbins dwell in the ‘melancholic slow movement, yet finds a real depth of feeling, passionately performed as if in one long phrase...

There is also an extremely satisfying account of the Second Symphony, showing off its unusual but rich orchestral colours. The piano and vibraphone are ideally placed in the mix, making themselves heard in accompaniment to the dominant, bittersweet theme of the first movement, which Brabbins ensures is beautifully shaped, its angular lines strange yet logical.

In each of the three works Martyn Brabbins shows a keen understanding of Walton’s writing... For now, though, this is a winning disc of William Walton’s two symphonies.”

“These are performances worthy to stand alongside the very best I have ever heard of these wonderful works, either recorded or in the concert hall... Here, tempos are well-nigh-perfect; balance and dynamics are carefully managed... and it proves the point that every one of those notes (of which there are many that are frequently glossed over) is essential to make the sound that only Walton can make.

The impressive points are too numerous to mention, but to be particularly admired in the First Symphony is the way that the grinding climaxes are held back so that they don't become over-powering – until they need to be – and also the tight control Brabbins has on rhythmic drive.

The Second Symphony... is the creation of a more stable and experienced composer. In this recording the music glitters brilliantly, revealing the deft touches of instrumentation that the score tells us are there but are rarely heard – this is as much a concerto for orchestra as it is the designated Symphony. The wind soloists of the BBC Scottish SO shine in the first movement – Brabbins managing wonderfully the mix of confidence, bitterness and frustration and not since the classic decades-old George Szell recording have I heard the Mediterranean longing of the slow movement come across so effectively...

This is a triumph for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins... It’s the coupling and the performances I've been waiting for. No lover of twentieth-century orchestral music – whether Waltonians or not – should hesitate to acquire this superb and revealing release.”
Classical Source, August 2011

“Brabbins leaves us in no doubt about his expert touch in this repertoire. He gets lean, clean results from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, maintaining tension and momentum in a way that showcases the music’s virtuosic dynamism. What the orchestral sound misses in opulence, it makes up in athletic energy and finesse.

The First Symphony’s explosive rhythms are well handled, but the Second’s elusive spirit comes across equally powerfully. No admirer of these symphonies should be without André Previn’s classic LSO recordings, but Hyperion fits both works on a single CD, and Brabbins’ sheer conviction should win them new admirers.”
Andrew Clark, Financial Times, July 2011

“The dazzling brilliance and menacing darkness in Walton’s First Symphony are astutely caught here by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra under Martyn Brabbins. The sensible coupling is the Second Symphony, not so warmly received when it was new but here attesting to its originality and emotional power. Walton’s instrumentation was always one of his assets, as was his way with cross-cutting rhythm, both of which Brabbins taps excitingly here.”
Geoffrey Norris, Daily Telegraph, July 2011

“André Previn's famous 1967 recording of Walton's First Symphony with the LSO has effectively seen off all subsequent versions. Nobody since has managed to match that performance's combination of snarling menace and orchestral brilliance on disc, and it's a real achievement that Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony come as close as they do to emulating it. Brabbins's account is a reminder that for all its derivative elements and bombast, Walton One is a powerful musical statement in its own right; the first movement is worked to a massive grinding climax on this recording, the scherzo is wonderfully deft, if not quite with the edge that the "con malizia" marking in the score implies, and the remaining movements are steered faultlessly to the noisy conclusion.

The three-movement Second Symphony belongs to a very different emotional world, though flashes of the First's irascibility occasionally surface. Brabbins extracts all of the necessary orchestral glitter and swagger from the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, even if some of the solo passages don't have quite the smoochy lilt they ideally need; as a neat pairing of Walton's two symphonies on a single disc, this really can't be bettered.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, June 2011

“That the First Symphony really is a masterpiece is apparent throughout Martyn Brabbins’s dedicated, full-blooded account, with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra playing their hearts out, their surprisingly big sound captured with remarkable fidelity by the Hyperion engineers.

The first movement… is arguably the greatest symphonic movement ever created by a British composer. It’s a real achievement that Brabbins makes the other three, especially the problematic finale which caused Walton so much grief, worthy of this imposing beginning.”
David Mellor, Mail on Sunday, July 2011

“Brabbins makes the strongest possible case for the work [Symphony No. 2]… Anyone tempted by both symphonies on a single disc need not hesitate.”
Hugh Canning, Sunday Times, July 2011

“[of Symphony No. 2] Its fizzing syncopations and phantasmagorical textures are fiendish to conduct and play. Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish are thrilling champions… there’s clear, rhythmically precise playing throughout.”
Richard Morrison, Times, June 2011

“During the last 50 years, rival versions of Walton’s music have come and gone, but in the case of his symphonies, it is Previn and Szell who have seemingly remained unassailable – until now, for this new Martyn Brabbins disc, coupling the two Symphonies is the fully the equal of its distinguished predecessors and in certain details is superior to either…

The choice of conductor is inspired… the result is a disc of incomparable sonic and musical quality. As for the performances, it is impossible to imagine anything better than this, by turns so very exciting and very moving, Brabbins’s tempos are absolutely spot-on: I write as someone who vividly remembers seeing Walton conduct both works, especially No. 1, many times… Apart from the flawless tempos, it is Brabbins’s grasp of the tonality of each movement and his ability to place each paragraph or section so clearly, seamlessly and rightly within each broader structure, at the same time as ensuring the internal orchestral balance is finely gauged…

Brabbins reveals his total understanding of Walton’s music not only in the First Symphony, but also in the structurally more challenging Second. No conductor I have heard, including Szell and the composer (still less Previn), of this very different Symphony has made the finale seem so inevitably ‘right’ from first bar to last as does Brabbins…

I have no doubt that this disc enshrines great conducting of a great orchestra in great music: the result is a record in a thousand.
Robert Matthew-Walker, International Record Review, “Outstanding”, July 2011

“Not for nothing is Martyn Brabbins becoming one of the best-respected conductors of British (and other) music.”
Jessica Duchen, Classic FM, September 2011

“Martyn Brabbins und das BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra erweisen sich dafür als Idealinterpreten. Schon die eloquente, zugleich aber klanglich kraftvolle Steigerung des Eröffnungssatzes der Ersten Symphonie macht unmissverständlich klar, dass diese Interpretation ein klares Konzept hat. Brabbins gelingt es, die schnell als schwülstig und ausladend empfindbaren Orchesterladungen Waltons so präzise zu motivieren, so exakt zu fassen, dass sie den Spagat zwischen der schillernden Orchesterbrillanz der Instrumentation und der Überwältigung durch Klangmasse, Kraft und dunkle Farben in ein großes, sich unaufhaltsam entwickelndes, symphonisches Geschehen katalysieren.”
Klassik.com, December 2011

BBC Prom / Havergal Brian Symphony No. 1 The Gothic
“Martyn Brabbins proved a remarkable commander of the performing masses and exposer of the intricate layers within the antiphonal singing and thick orchestration.”
The Economist, July 2011

“The performance did what was humanly possible against almost inhuman odds.”
Edward Seckerson, Independent, July 2011

“Brabbins and his hordes did a truly magnificent job, and those who were there are unlikely to forget the experience.”
Andrew Clements, Guardian, July 2011

“Brabbins was a sturdy, unflappable yet energising presence.”
Ivan Hewett, Daily Telegraph, July 2011

“This impressively well-drilled performance under Martyn Brabbins…”
Barry Millington, Evening Standard, July 2011

“All credit to Brabbins for overseeing so intensive a preparation (both regionally and at Alexandra Palace prior to the dress rehearsal), such that precious little was left to chance on the night itself…
Insofar as timings are relevant, the performance was spot-on. In the first of the initial three purely orchestral movements, Brabbins, without under-emphasising the distinction between its incisive and languorous main themes… was at one with Brian in placing a premium on formal cohesion that was palpably secured during its later stages…
Above all this was Brabbins’s performance, and the discreet but intent control exerted over the vast numbers (no voice or instrument spared) left no doubt he believed in the music from the inside and had absorbed it thus.”
Richard Morrison, Classical Source, July 2011

“Brabbins held together the vast forces and the lop-sided span of the score with remarkable skill.”
Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph (Blogs) , July 2011

“Brabbins certainly delivered the goods…Where Brabbins’ skill really came to the fore, however, was in capturing such precise note endings and dynamic unity in both the quietest and most ‘cacophonous’ passages, and in achieving such smooth transitions from one to the other. With well over six hundred singers this was no mean feat.”
Sam Smith, Music OMH, July 2011

“Hail by all means conductor Martyn Brabbins’ flexible command of nine choirs and two orchestras.”
David Nice, The Arts Desk, July 2011

Frankfurt Opera / Pizetti Murder in the Cathedral (new prod. Keith Warner)
“The Frankfurt opera orchestra under Martyn Brabbins relishes the gorgeous colours of the orchestral score, in this highly expressive performance.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, May 2011

Duesseldorfer Symphoniker / Mahler Das Klagende Lied
“Martyn Brabbins was masterful at keeping the overflowing dimensions of the work under control...He engaged fantastically with Mahler’s fragile and essentially tragic tonal palette, allowing the rich colouring to bloom with abandon.”
Rheinische Post, March 2011

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Ferneyhough Total Immersion
“…the extraordinary achievement of Brabbins and his players.”
Evening Standard, February 2011

“...in the hands of the great Martyn Brabbins and an unflappable and impassioned BBC Symphony Orchestra it swept all before it... It was like moving through a throbbing city: a completely intoxicating experience.”
The Arts Desk, February 2011

BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Leighton Symphony No. 1 & Piano Concerto No. 3
“The 1964 First Symphony here in its first recording, [is] played with stunning effect by Martyn Brabbins and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales... There is a Sibelian grandeur to both the conception and the sound of this symphony, and even distant echoes (in the pounding drums under declamatory brass) of the heaven-storming opening of Brahms’s First”.
American Record Guide, November 2010

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Elgar, Walton & Britten
“…Elgar's concert overture In the South (Alassio), a sun-kissed explosion of joy if ever there was one, laced with thematic bravado, crunching dissonances and more than one moment that might easily have been penned by Richard Strauss. Martyn Brabbins, always sturdy and fiery in this repertoire, gave it grit and substance, generating a performance that was, at times, electrifying.”
The Scotsman, November 2010

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra at the BBC Proms / Mozart, Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakov, Dillon & Tchaikovsky
“(...) an irrepressible account of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony gave Brabbins the chance to show again that he is just as exceptional an interpreter of the Russian repertory as he is of contemporary music.”
Guardian, August 2010

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Britten, Poulenc & Elgar
“Martyn Brabbins conducted the BBC SSO (this year’s orchestra in residence) and the St Magnus Festival Chorus in the premiere, in a programme that opened with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes and closed with Elgar’s Enigma Variations, performances which showed an orchestra on fine form and a conductor with a stylish and sympathetic affinity for the music”
The Herald Scotland, June 2010

Netherlands Opera / Raskatov A Dog’s Heart
“The production by the English director Simon McBurney, in his first foray into opera, ingeniously captures the opera’s spirit...Martyn Brabbins leads an assured performance.”
The New York Times, June 2010

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group / David Sawer Rumpelstiltskin
“From the ever-darkening timbre of the alchemy music to the expansive horn solo, the brittle, syncopated wedding music, mocking flute and stuttering speech-rhythms, Sawer tightens his score with unerring focus and is handsomely served by BCMG's virtuosic instrumentalists and conductor Martyn Brabbins."
Independent, November 2009

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Sir Peter Maxwell Davies & Taverner
“With the exemplary Martyn Brabbins conducting the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, the ending of the first half was as shattering as it should have been. The distant murmur of instrumental tone at the close of the opera will stick no less indelibly in the memory."
The Herald Scotland, November 2009

“I was blown away by its emotive power. Martyn Brabbins engineered a performance that held us rapt from its declamatory start to a hauntingly moving ending, where a snatch of Taverner's own music fades into oblivion."
The Scotsman, November 2009

Royal Flemish Philharmonic / Lodewijk Mortelmans Homerische symfonieMorgenstemming Mythe der lente
“This CD marks a new departure for Hyperion, starting their link with the Royal Flemish Philharmonic under their relatively new principal guest conductor but old Hyperion hand Martyn Brabbins. This is a fine orchestra, capable of silky smooth string playing where necessary, and excellent in all departments. Brabbins steers a clear path avoiding the mundane on the one hand, and the over-egged romantic hysteria on the other, and his orchestra, from the end result, seem to me to have enjoyed the music making hugely. These are no idle run-throughs – ensemble is tight, dynamics are carefully graded and the result is some intense music-making…. This release is the first of a series, further issues in which I look forward to immensely.”
Audiophile Audition, October 2009

Flemish Opera / Berg Wozzeck
“As remarkable as the sublime acting of the soli is the collaboration between Joosten and conductor Martyn Brabbins. The timing and the way they put together in the most logical way the contradictions between the people’s language and Hochdeutsch and between Bergs atonal music and folksong is spot on. (…) The soli sing in beautiful synchronization with the musicians from the Flanders Opera Symphonic Orchestra. The Brit Brabbins makes with this Wozzeck his debut at Flanders Opera. He’s just been appointed as regular guest conductor at the Filharmonie. If this performance of the Flanders Opera Symphonic Orchestra is exemplary of his work, then there are some exciting times ahead in Antwerp.”
De Volkskrant, five stars, October 2009

“Alban Berg warned his conductors that they should not lose themselves in the score (one of the most worked through in history) but that they should serve the ‘idea’. Martyn Brabbins and the orchestra succeed in that pretty well. He feels the dramatic rythmes of Berg very well and balances the volumes powerfully without becoming demonstrative.”
De Morgen, October 2009

“Leading an orchestra in perfect shape, Martyn Brabbins gives the score a reading that is more exciting than natural, amazingly intimate and gives a perspective to the extraordinary beauty of the orchestral score without becoming too heavy or ostentatious.”
La Libre Belgique, October 2009

“The musical approach is also driven, powerful and loud. Conductor Martyn Brabbins hardly gives the orchestra time to relax. In his hands this opera, lasting less than 100 minutes, becomes scorchingly intense.”
De Standaard, October 2009

Opera de Lyon / Britten Death in Venice
“Death in Venice, Benjamin Britten's final opera, is one of the composer's least-performed works; productions in France have been especially rare… the Aldeburgh Festival under the direction of Yoshi Oida and the baton of Martyn Brabbins, was one of the highlights of the French season.”
Opera News Online, July 2009

"In the pit the Lyon Opera Orchestra (in small formation) is perfect: Martyn Brabbins, a British conductor unknown in France, conducts with perfect precision, emphasising the "abstract" nature of the score, influenced by Berg (one of Britten's musical inspirations), and keeping up the tension throughout the performance."
Le Monde, May 2009

London Philharmonic Orchestra / Britten, Sibelius & Elgar
“Britten's ‘Four Sea Interludes’ from Peter Grimes, with their edgy high lines and sonorous depths, might have been composed for the improved acoustic of the Royal Festival Hall, in any case – their vividness enhanced on this occasion by Brabbins pressing on from Interlude to Interlude without pause, as Britten asked. Rarely can the heavy brass in ‘Dawn’ have sounded more menacing, the bells in ‘Sunday Morning’ more clangourous, the reflections in ‘Moonlight’ more incisive, the screaming strings in ‘Storm’ more fearsome."

"A number of rarely noticed details of colour and dynamics in Elgar's [Enigma Variations] ever-shifting scoring were pointed and the penultimate variation, with its vision of a great ship passing, was memorable. A full RFH yet again, and much enthusiasm.”
Independent, January 2009

“The hushed opening of the Enigma Variations seemed inspired… Bow barely moved over string at the start of Nimrod. And Brabbins skillfully balanced detail and impetus in such a way as to bring a sense of powerful cumulative energy to the work as a whole.”
Times, January 2009

London Sinfonietta / Takemitsu & Larcher
“Both pieces… were played with exquisite care and affection by the Sinfonietta under Martyn Brabbins's direction.”
Daily Telegraph, October 2008

BBC Symphony Orchestra / BBC Proms: Vaughan-Williams & Holst
“Martyn Brabbins conducted the BBC Symphony in the English parts of the concert, which was dedicated to the memory of Vernon Handley, whose death had been announced earlier that day. Both the Sinfonia Antartica and The Planets were works that Handley conducted superlatively, and Brabbins' performance of the Holst especially - wonderfully fleet and colourful, its array of European influences gleefully paraded - had the same memorable quality. The Vaughan Williams remains… an uneasy mix of site-specific illustrative music and symphonic rigour, though here its instrumental palette positively glowed.”
Guardian, September 2008

“Brabbins and the orchestra gave the freshest of performances, full of keen detail and felicitous colouration. His blistering tempo for "Mars" was as good a sign as any of life on the red planet.”
Independent, September 2008

“Brabbins delivered an exceptional performance that proved once again what a modernist phenomenon this score of the First World War years was. After an implacable, explosive 'Mars', 'Venus' was more full-toned, more sensual than ever.”
Evening Standard, September 2008

Norrköping Symphony Orchestra / John Pickhard The Flight of Icarus, The Spindle of Necessity Channel Firing
“British conductor Martyn Brabbins has this music under his skin… This one is essential listening for lovers of modern music.”
Fanfare, July/August 2008

“The Norrköpinger Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Martyn Brabbins, showed itself at its best, and translated Pickard's scores into technically outstanding and gripping, needle-sharp soundworlds. The resulting intensity, coming from a total dedication to the task, is tangible and audible every second. The music doesn't come across as heavy, but keeps a natural transparence, which is enhanced by the exemplary recording quality.”
Klassik.com, May 2008

BBC National Orchestra of Wales / Dvorák & Bartók
“The BBCNOW musicians were in top form, and their playing was all the more vivid for Brabbins' contrasting of the mischievous humour of the second and fourth movements with the elegiac outpouring at the heart of the piece.”
Guardian, January 2008

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Judith Weir Weekend at the Barbican Centre
“… Martyn Brabbins' conducting superbly illuminated the work's sensuous, yet strangely threatening, sound world.”
Guardian, January 2008

“…Michael Finnissey’s tone poem 'Red Earth', a brilliant piece of 1980s Modernism… gave Sunday’s closing concert its focus, in a superbly coralled rendition under Martyn Brabbins.”
Financial Times, January 2008

“… The Vanishing Bridegroom… was given an atmospheric concert performance on Saturday under Martyn Brabbins’s direction.”
Times, January 2008

“The BBC Symphony Orchestra negotiated its way deftly through the ambiguities of Weir's tantalisingly suggestive score under the assured baton of Martyn Brabbins.”
Evening Standard, January 2008

Birmingham Contemporary Music Group & BBC Symphony Orchestra / David Sawer From Morning to Midnight (NMC)
“Along with the half-hour suite from his Coliseum opera, the disc includes The Memory of Water, for strings, the orchestral, Bentham-inspired “the greatest happiness principle”, and the surreally brilliant ensemble piece Tiroirs.”
Times, December 2007

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / BBC Proms 2007: Harrison Panic
“…the performance [of Harrison’s Panic] under Brabbins was wonderfully precise.”
Guardian, August 2007

London Sinfonietta / György Ligeti Aventures & Nouvelles Aventures
"Martyn Brabbins’s conducting generated its own electricity. Performers froze to the end of his finger, awaiting the tiny beat that would set off a plink, a howl, or the crockery’s demise."
Times, May 2007

“The blue-gowned orchestra is superbly conducted by Martyn Brabbins.”
Guardian, May 2007

Oper Frankfurt / Bloch Macbeth (prod. Keith Warner)
“Unter seiner Leitung schaerfte das gut disponierte Frankfurter Museumsorchester nicht allein die oft schroffen Konturen des Werks, sondern entlockte ihm auch die reichen, fast impressionistischen Farbwerte und das differenzierte Panorama der Instrumentallinien.”

“Under (Brabbins') direction the A team Frankfurt Museumsorchester not only brought into focus the often jagged contours of the work, but also seduced us with the rich, almost impressionistic colours and the varied panorama of the instrumental writing.”
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, January 2007

“Dirigent Martyn Brabbins aber hatte das Ensemble hervorragend mit den Anforderungen dieser Hochkomplizierten Musik vertraut gemacht und erreichte ein Hoechstmass an Spannung und Konturenschaerfe."

“However, conductor Martyn Brabbins was outstanding in his ability to familiarise the orchestra with this demanding and highly complicated music, and achieved a high level of excitement and clarity of line.”
Frankfurter Neue Presse, January 2007

Philharmonia Orchestra / Queen Elizabeth Hall / Elgar, Walton & Hellawell
“…the pièces de résistance were the two Elgar 'overtures' (really symphonic poems) that framed this all-English programme. Martyn Brabbins and the Philharmonia gave In the South and Cockaigne the sort of glamorous sound and sweep that augurs well for their tour to Mexico next week.”
Financial Times, October 2006

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / BBC Proms 2006: Bernstein Chichester Psalms
“...spine-tinglingly visceral...”
Guardian, July 2006

Cheltenham Festival / The Hallé 
“The concert began appropriately with Mendelssohn’s Fingal’s Cave overture, and ended with an account of Mahler’s uncaledonian fourth symphony that I found deeply affecting.”
Sunday Times, July 2006

Het Residentie Orkest / Amsterdam Concertgebouw / Shostakovich One Act Operas
”Het stuk werd, net als de andere fraai door het Residentie Orkest gespeeld. Vor dirigent Brabbins heeft Sjostakovitsj kennelijk wenig geheimen.”

“…beautifully played by the Residentie Orchestra. Shostakovich evidently holds few secrets for conductor Brabbins.”
Parool, June 2006

Philharmonia / Stravinsky The Rake’s Progress
“It was also the best played, with exquisite work from the Philharmonia under Martyn Brabbins.”
Anna Picard, Independent, June 2006

“Neil Bartlett's new production of Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress is an effervescent curtain-raiser to this year's Aldeburgh festival. It's the first time Bartlett has directed an opera. But with a cast of young soloists - all graduates of Aldeburgh's Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme - and the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins, this is a staging full of wit, energy and expressive intensity..."

"...it's the brilliance of Stravinsky's music, and the pacing and insight of Brabbins's conducting, that make this evening so rewarding.”
Tom Service, Guardian, June 2006

“Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress was mounted at Snape Maltings by soloists from the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme, a chorus from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Philharmonia Orchestra, crisply conducted by Martyn Brabbins.”
Paul Driver, Times, June 2006

BBC SSO / National Youth Choir of Scotland / Hellawell, Bernstein, Debussy & Bartók
“...a power-packed performance of the Bartók.”
The Scotsman, April 2006

“...the SSO was in mindblowing form for Piers Hellawell’s excitingly hectic Dogs and Wolves (a first performance), ravishingly hypnotic in Debussy’s Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune, and ... ultimately incandescent and super-articulate in the finale of Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra.”
The Herald Scotland, April 2006

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Bennett
“Brabbins and his responsive orchestra gave us a performance of much sighing beauty.”
Times, April 2006

Philharmonia Orchestra / Britten, Holst, Elgar & Tchaikovsky
“…the sound of Martyn Brabbin’s performance never seemed saturated or lacking in spaciousness. The internal detail the close focus revealed was an added bonus.”

“That spotlight on instrumental detail suited the ballet music from Holst’s otherwise forgotten opera The Perfect Fool, extrovertly delivered by Brabbins, and especially the multitude of woodwind contributions in his equally well characterised account of the Enigma Variations. This reinforced an admiration for the expert musicianship of the Philharmonia’s principles, as well as for the imaginative doublings in Elgar’s textures.”
Guardian, October 2005

Cheltenham Festival
“He is surely destined to change musical life in more than Cheltenham.”
Times, July 2005

“It is not just that he is exceptionally versatile…it is also a mature personality.”
Financial Times, June 2005

“The appointment…shows that his breadth of experience has finally come into focus.”
Financial Times, June 2005

The Hallé / Ravel Mother Goose & Holst The Perfect Fool
“The darkest of the score’s three incarnations, it became, in Brabbins’s hands a very adult work, shot through with premonitions of lost innocence and adolescent sexuality… Thrilling, polyrhythmic stuff, [The Perfect Fool] was given a hair-raising performance by Brabbins that left you wondering why it is played so infrequently and why so few choreographers are drawn to it.”
Guardian, February 2005

English National Opera / Tippett A Child of our Time
“Martyn Brabbins’s account of the score is grippingly urgent and muscular; the singing of the ENO chorus, so central to the work, is full-blooded, and the four soloists…first-rate too.”
Guardian, January 2005

“…conductor Martyn Brabbins drew impassioned playing from the orchestra.”
Daily Telegraph, January 2005

“The spirituals…are, harmonically speaking, the richest moments in a spare and soulful musical landscape, one that is wonderfully served by the conductor, Martyn Brabbins, ENO’s excellent chorus and the heartfelt soloists…”
Independent, January 2005

“Martyn Brabbins conducts with appropriate soulfulness and clarity – the Romantic lines of the opening and dark colours of deep strings and brass are particularly well done, and there is a fine set of soloists…”
Times, January 2005

“The unfazeable ENO chorus met all challenges heroically and the orchestra and soloists, under Martyn Brabbins’s expert baton, gave quality performances.”
Evening Standard, January 2005

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Birtwistle The Second Mrs Kong
“…This contains some of his most hypnotically beautiful writing, at least when the huge forces are controlled with as much flair as Martyn Brabbins displayed here…”
Times, November 2004

“…Brabbins’s performance reaffirmed this as one of the great operatic achievements of our time.”
Guardian, November 2004

“Martyn Brabbins conducted the BBC Symphony in it to great effect."
Financial Times, November 2004

“Brabbins at the BBCSO persuasively displayed the strange, glinting colours of this mesmerising score…"
Evening Standard, November 2004

“…The BBC Symphony and tremendous soloists [gave] it their all under Martyn Brabbins…”
Observer, November 2004

“The performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Apollo Voices, the conductor Martyn Brabbins, and cast…could hardly be faulted.”
Sunday Times, November 2004

“[The Second Mrs Kong] received a superb semi-staged London premiere this week from the BBC Symphony Orchestra – back on tip-top form under Martyn Brabbins…”
Independent on Sunday, November 2004

Ensemble Moderne / Birtwistle Theseus Game (Deutsche Grammophon)
“…the performance concludes an essential disc for all devotees of the composer’s muscular, energising music.”
Daily Telegraph, September 2004

“Compelling listening; vintage Birtwistle.”
Financial Times, August 2004

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Elgar-Payne Symphony No. 3
“…Brabbins manipulated its conflicting moods – muscular lyricism in the opening movement, sombre self-communing in the adagio, swaggering ceremonial in the finale – with consummate assurance.”
Guardian, July 2004

“Elgar would surely have been delighted with the completed work and last night’s robust, passionate, mellow sounding, deeply searching performance, given by Martyn Brabbins and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.”
Evening Standard, July 2004

City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra / Carter Of Rewaking
“Here the soloist Gweneth-Anne Jeffers, creamy-toned and secure in her handling of Carter’s soaring, aspiring writing, while Brabbins, Cheltenham artistic director-in-waiting, deftly fitted the CBSO’s counterpoints around her.”
Guardian, July 2004

“And Michael Berkeley, in his final year as festival director, was rewarded with a full house, while giving Cheltenham audiences a closer, highly complimentary, look at his successor, the conductor Martyn Brabbins.”
Financial Times, July 2004

“Brabbins was marvelously alive to the music’s strangeness and its uniquely profound terseness”
Sunday Times, July 2004

BBC Philharmonic / Cyril Scott (Chandos)
“In all three works Martyn Brabbins has total control of the music’s ebb and flow…”
Gramophone, June 2004

“Martyn Brabbins finds his way through the shifting, cloudy textures with great skill.”
Guardian, May 2004

Opera North / Smetana The Bartered Bride
“…Martyn Brabbins gave his orchestra plenty of rein. After proving their mettle with a tight, trim overture, they cavorted around with just the abandon you want in a piece not built for politesse.”
Opera, April 2004

“…Martyn Brabbins pilots the orchestra through a brilliantly suspense-building overture of rushing fugatos and a courtly romp through the ensuing folkeries.”
Times, January 2004

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / MacMillan, MacRae, Goldschmidt & Shostakovich
“If there was one outstanding factor which unified the programme played last night by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra…then it was the performance of conductor Martyn Brabbins, working absolutely at strength, with flair colouring his familiar fastidiousness. The overriding quality he displayed, on top of his craftsmanship, was clarity, as simple and profound as that.”
The Herald Scotland, March 2004

BBC Philharmonic / Holloway 60th Birthday
“…Sustaining Holloway’s intricate textures and immense climaxes magnificently throughout, the BBC Philharmonic and Martyn Brabbins were outstanding.”
Guardian, October 2003

Bayerische Rundfunk / Skempton, Oehring & Ives
“…This concert of new music appeared compellingly uncertain and uncramped by convention – exactly how it should be.”
Abendzeitung, July 2003

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Fuchs & Kiel (Hyperion CDA 67354)
“…You can’t fault the magic wand of Martyn Brabbins … nor the spirited and sensitive playing of the BBC Scottish band…”
BBC Music Magazine, May 2003

London Sinfonietta / Harvey Bird Concerto with Pianosong & Pintscher Tenebrae
“…Conductor Martyn Brabbins – what would adventurous concerts do without him? – led us through this disorientaing shadow world with his usual ease…”
Times, April 2003

“…conductor Martyn Brabbins held the complicated structure together with ease – it looked like quite a feat of co-ordination between the soloist, ensemble and the live electronic treatment…”
Daily Telegraph, April 2003

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Turnage Weekend
“…the BBC Symphony Orchestra, superbly conducted by Martyn Brabbins…”
Times, January 2003

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra & Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival / Nørgard & Duddell
“…the man who has become indispensable to new music in Britain, Martyn Brabbins.”
Times, November 2002

“…The BBCSSO tackled this demanding programme with gritty professionalism, and Martyn Brabbins, whose range of musical sympathies seems inexhaustible, conducted with his customary formidable authority.”
Huddersfield Daily Examiner, November 2002

“…All four works were superbly delivered by the BBC Scottish under Martyn Brabbins…”
Daily Telegraph, November 2002

Philharmonia, Music of Today / Works by Richard Causton
“…Brabbins cast a powerful spell with the piece…”
Guardian, November 2002

Opera North / Walton Troilus and Cressida
“…Martyn Brabbins gave the score every chance to make its impact; neither his concentration nor that of the splendid orchestra lapsed for a moment…”
Daily Telegraph, November 2002

”...Martyn Brabbins conducted the work better than anyone before him. He revelled in Walton's consummate orchestration and drew wonderful playing and singing from the Opera North orchestra – especially in the storm interlude – and chorus.”
Sunday Telegraph, November 2002

BBC Proms / Sinfonia 21
“...with Brabbins directing operations there was a real poise and delicacy to proceedings.”
Guardian, September 2002

“…Julian Anderson's exuberant Alhambra Fantasy cascaded out in surely the most exciting performance it has yet received...”
Times, September 2002

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Elgar Symphony No.1
“…Brabbins is many people's first call to unpick a knotty piece of contemporary music, and he instinctively approaches a work as over-familiar as Elgar's first Symphony as if it were hot off the press ... Brabbins still provides the one-shot intensity of a performance that might never be heard again…”
The Guardian, April 2002

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Feldman Coptic Light
“…Brabbins and the BBC SSO played with control and intensity in a brilliant and uplifting performance…”
Guardian, February 2002

Bayerische Rundfunk / Bartók, Neuwirth & Margret Wolf
“…At the podium of the excellent BR orchestra was Martyn Brabbins, whose conducting of this [Margaret Wolf and Neuwirth’s] work was decidedly commanding and creative…”
Straubinger Tagblatt, November 2001

“…Martyn Brabbins led the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphoniker through this evening of musical extremes with calculated and precise technique.”
Abendzeitung München, November 2001

“…Henze’s 'Kubanische' had an exuberantly sensual language, thanks to Martyn Brabbin’s committed conducting.”
TZ München, November 2001

Philharmonia / Barry The Straight Line
“…Martyn Brabbins and the Philharmonia players produced a compellingly focused performance … alive to the extreme drama of the piece...”
Guardian, November 2001

Nash Ensemble / Elgar Serenade for Strings
“…Brabbins’s shaping of the piece was just right, sensitive but not indulgent, and he made the work seem much more substantial than the delectable diversion its title suggests...”
Guardian, November 2001

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / BBC Proms 2001: MacRae Violin Concerto
“…This is a richly mysterious work that also manages to be vividly immediate, especially when it is performed with the authority of Little and Brabbins…”
Guardian, August 2001

“…Martyn Brabbins, who is becoming a fine conductor of standard repertoire as well as of new music, galvanised the orchestra’s strings into some characterful accompaniment for the soprano Inger Dam-Jensen’s vividly projected interpretation of Britten’s Les Illuminations…”
Independent, August 2001

“…Martyn Brabbins’s control of the orchestra here was matched at the end of the programme by his account of Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra, a performance that had sweep and flow…”
Times, August 2001

BBC Philharmonic / Bax Concertante for Three Wind Instruments and Orchestra (Chandos)
“…What a remarkably adaptable conductor is Martyn Brabbins – able to sound keen and in intelligent control in British music from Arnold Bax to Harrison Birtwistle…”
BBC Music Magazine, July 2001

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / MacDowell Piano Concertos No. 1 & 2 (Hyperion)
“…[Seta Tanyel is] aided by understanding support from the BBC Scottish SO under Brabbins, totally at one with her in treating MacDowell with all the seriousness he could possibly have wished, and bringing out more clearly than other versions the sheer effectiveness of his orchestration...”
BBC Music Magazine, June 2001

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Strauss, Kodaly & Tchaikovsky
“The concert didn’t so much start as explode into action with a dynamite version of Richard Strauss’s Don Juan, bursting at the seams with energy, bravado, and swagger, and with Brabbins in overdrive – I’ve never seen him in better form – and the SSO playing as though their lives depended on it, it was one of those rare performances where you felt you had to grip your seat to stay on the ground.”
The Herald Scotland, June 2001

English National Opera / Sawer From Morning to Midnight
“…Martyn Brabbins, the conductor, teased masterful playing and singing from orchestra and singers alike…”
Observer, May 2001

“…The conductor Martyn Brabbins justifies the orchestra’s presence as the strongest character, while taking care not to overwhelm the voices…”
Financial Times, April 2001

“…There is too little space to praise enough Martyn Brabbins’s conducting…”
Times, April 2001

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Stravinsky Violin Concerto
“…Martyn Brabbins conducted the piece with great sensitivity and rhythmic awareness, and the various groups of instrumentalists produced some beautiful playing in the wind and brass sections in support of the soloist...”
Glasgow Herald, February 2001

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Stanford Violin Concerto (Hyperion)
“Recording of the Month… A first recording of the Violin Concerto, and a performance unlikely to be bettered… First-class orchestral playing, sympathetically conducted…”
Gramophone, February 2001

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Schnittke Symphony No.1
“…the BBC Symphony under the increasingly indispensable Martyn Brabbins interpreted with enormous panache…”
Financial Times, January 2001

“…Martyn Brabbins conducted it triumphantly…”
Sunday Telegraph, January 2001

London Sinfonietta / Birtwistle Tragoedia
“…Martyn Brabbins conducted Tragoedia (1965) with absolute clarity showing that no note in this intense, muscular score exists without a purpose…”
Times, October 2000

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Walton Symphony No. 1
“…Initially despondant in mood and achingly tender, it almost imperceptibly progressed, with perfect shaping from Brabbins, into a burst of dazzling brilliance…”
The Scotsman, May 1999

“…Martyn Brabbins conducted a trenchant and electrifying version of Walton’s First Symphony...”
Glasgow Herald, April 1998

BBC Symphony Orchestra / Michael Berkeley Love Cries
“…Brabbins ensured that every strand of the febrile textures that pulse through the whole score was perfectly clear. He really is the most persuasive conductor of contemporary music. The BBCSO is on the lookout for a new chief conductor to replace Andrew Davis from 2001; Brabbins should be right in the frame...”
Guardian, May 1999

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Brull Piano Concertos (Hyperion)
“…Martyn Brabbins, surely the most consistently rewarding of Britain’s young conductors…”
The Scotsman, February 1999

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Boulez Pli Selon Pli
“…The conductor, Martyn Brabbins, gave a practical, no nonsense account of the piece, his excellent musicians mastering the difficulties with a great deal of sang-froid. It was an inspiring achievement...”
Independent, September 1998

“…a brilliant achievement. It helped that the soprano Valdine Anderson can make the most unforgiving music sound beautiful, and that Martyn Brabbins conducted with such fluency...”
Times, September 1998

“…the integration of so many different strands into some sort of cohesive soundtrack, and the beauty and strangeness of so much of what we heard undoubtedly owes a lot to Martyn Brabbins’ skilful conducting...”
Glasgow Herald, August 1998

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Maxwell Davies Second Fantasia on an ‘In Nomine’ of John Taverner
“…In Glasgow Cathedral, all awesome space and burnished evening light, we also had the luxury of Martyn Brabbins as conductor, the perfect craftsman for such music, with not only the ability to cherish and realise detail and to bring elegance and a sense of the inevitable to the landscape of the whole, but the practical music making skill which might enable a huge orchestra to sustain a sense of performance… the playing was superb, subtly coloured, tender, fierce and always characterful…”
The Scotsman, May 1998

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Guardian Feature
The Pilgrim’s Progress: Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece return to ENOOn the eve of its comeback performance at English National Opera, conductor Martyn Brabbins explains why it has taken more than 60 years to bring this opera back to the stageMartyn BrabbinsThe GuardianMonday 5 November 2012John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress obsessed Ralph Vaughan Williams throughout his long life. He turned to the 1678 religious allegory again and again, writing...

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