Alison Balsom Plays Two Trumpets Well

Review by: Robert Levine


Artistic Quality: 8

Sound Quality: 9

The first time I recall being impressed with a “classical” trumpet was back in what seems like the Middle Ages when I heard a recording of Maurice André playing a concerto by Gottfried Heinrich Stölzel. I sought others like it. I loved the penetrating, bright sound–and then came the second Brandenburg, which almost caused a merry sort of brain damage. Eventually, I grew tired of the bright sound and preferred not to listen to the trumpet as a solo instrument, save on special occasions. Well, it must be a special occasion, since I’m paying attention to this new Alison Balsom CD.

She’s a remarkable player and here she uses both normal and clarion (a word I learned from the Brandenburg) trumpets, the latter in showpieces by Fasch and Torelli–which are brilliant–and less advisedly in an arrangement of Corelli’s “Christmas” Concerto. The former two have a gleam and lightness that are virtuosic and fun, but fiddling with Corelli’s strings fails: Balsom sometimes plays along with the violins and sometimes noodles around above the strings. They clash–it just doesn’t sound right.

The Bach chorales, with Stephen Cleobury’s superbly played organ, are lovely, and in Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring the choir of King’s College joins to make a joyful noise. The Academy of Ancient Music under Pavlo Beznosiuk is wonderful, but they sound best with the clarion trumpet, Corelli misfire aside. Nevertheless, when you listen to the complete program, the alternating of one type of trumpet with the other, track by track, seems wise, even though in the end the brief (54-minute) recital somehow fails to demand repeated listening.

In all, this beautifully recorded CD has not convinced me to return to listening frequently to trumpet concertos, but I do recommend it to those who love its high, shining glisten, and enjoy honestly flawless playing.

Buy Now from Arkiv Music

Recording Details:

Album Title: Alison Balsom: Jubilo

Works by J. S. Bach, Arcangelo Corelli, Johann Friedrich Fasch, & Giuseppe Torelli

  • Alison Balsom (trumpet); Stephen Cleobury (organ)
  • Academy of Ancient Music, Pavlo Beznosiuk

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