Alison Balsom (trumpet)
Tom Poster (piano)
rec. live 12-13 October 2015, 3-4 January 2016, St. George’s, Bristol, UK
WARNER CLASSICS 9029 598772 [61.18]

The Sound of Alison Balsom
rec. 2002-12
WARNER CLASSICS 0191622 [77.02]

English born trumpeter Alison Balsom has built up a substantial discography. I have her first album Music for Trumpet and Organ, a splendid release recorded in 2002 at Paisley Abbey containing music spanning some five centuries from Sweelinck to Messiaen.

Continuing Balsom’s association with Warner Classics here are two albums. There is a compilation release from 2013 The Sound of Alison Balsom that consists of Baroque works while on her latest release titled Légende - Works for Trumpet and Piano Balsom is accompanied by pianist Tom Poster. In the accompanying press release Balsom explains “I've spent my whole life trying to show how versatile the trumpet can be”… “It's only limited by your imagination.”
The Sound of Alison Balsom is primarily compiled from her previously released recordings with Balsom playing either a natural or a valved instrument but we are not told which type of trumpet is being used where. Some of the works are not played complete, for example, only the Andante is performed from J.S. Bach’s Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041 and there are only selections from Purcell’s King Arthur suite, Z628. All that said, there is no doubting the elevated quality of Balsom’s performances. Highlights include the mainly lively and vibrant King Arthur suite with Quentin Thomas on organ, and very commendable too is the arrangement of the J.S. Bach keyboard work ‘Aria variata’, BWV 989 quite majestically performed by Balsom with Alastair Ross on harpsichord. It seems only the arrangement of Cesare’s aria Al lampo dell'armi from Handel’s Giulio Cesare in Egitto is previously unreleased and is certainly a striking work.

Balsom’s new album Légende - Works for Trumpet and Piano is her first recital release with piano; she is accompanied by her long-standing recital partner Tom Poster. This attractive collection of twentieth-century works is made up of live recording from recitals at St. George’s, Bristol. Balsom and Poster operate exceptionally well as a duo, playing with engaging artistry and a model level of expression. It’s a generally well matched programme with nothing that jars too much. I have reservations, in that Maxwell Davies’s widely popular Farewell to Stromness sounds better suited to the solo piano, that Bernstein’s short musical picture of his friend actress Judy Holliday’s dog is one of the composer’s least inspiring moments and the duo’s own composition ‘The Thoughts of Dr. May’ has yet, after several plays, to grow on me. Outstanding among traditional works standing are Françaix’s Sonatine, Enescu’s Légende and the Martinů Sonatine all given the greatest possible advocacy by Balsom and Poster. Best of all, from the ‘Great American Songbook’ both Gershwin’s ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ and Kern’s ‘The way you look tonight’ sound terrific with a cool and classy, early hours soundscape that reminded me of German jazz trumpeter Till Brönner; a route which Balsom might wish to explore in the future.

Michael Cookson

Jean FRANÇAIX (1912-1997)
Sonatine, for trumpet and piano (1952) [6.50]
George ENESCU (1881-1955)
Légende, for trumpet and piano (1906) [6.09]
Alexander GOEDICKE (1877-1957)
Concert-Etude, Op.49 (arr. Timofei Dokshitser) [3.17]
Peter MAXWELL DAVIES (1934-2016)
Farewell to Stromness (transcr. Balsom/Poster) [3.52]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895-1963)
Trumpet sonata, for trumpet and piano (1939) [15.47]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Sonatine; Minuet, piano solo (1903) [3.36]
Tom POSTER and Alison BALSOM
The Thoughts of Dr. May (2012) [6.27]
Bohuslav MARTINŮ (1890-1959)
Sonatine, for trumpet and piano (1957) [7.05]
Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Rondo for Lifey (1959) [1.19]
George GERSHWIN (1898-1937)
‘Someone to Watch Over Me’ from the musical ‘Oh, Kay!’ (1926) (arr. Joseph Turrin) [4.00]
Jerome KERN (1885-1945)
‘The way you look tonight’ from film ‘Swing Time’ (1936) (arr. Tom Poster) [2.52]

The Sound of Alison Balsom
Henry PURCELL (1659-1695)
Musicke from King Arthur, Z628, Suite [7.10]
Quentin Thomas (organ)
rec. June 2002, Paisley Abbey, Scotland
Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sarabande, from Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1008 [2.49]
Aria variata in A minor from Italian Variations, BWV 989 [9.12]
Concerto in D Major (after Vivaldi) BWV 972 [8.02]
Badinerie, from Suite No. 2, BWV 1067 [1.13]
Colm Carey, organ (BWV 972) - Alasdair Ross, harpsichord (BWV 989)
rec. April 2005 Chapel of St. Augustine, Tonbridge School, Kent, UK
Violin Concerto in A Minor, BWV 1041 [6.10]
Göteborgs Symfoniker/Edward Gardiner
rec. June 2006, Göteborgs Konsert AB, Göteborg, Sweden
Giuseppe TORELLI (1658-1709)
Trumpet Concerto in D major, [5.49]
Die Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen/Thmas Klug (leader)
rec. February 2008 Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche, Lunsen, Sweden
George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Al Lampo dell'armi, from ‘Giulio Cesare in Egitto’ (1774) [3.29]
Tomaso ALBINONI (1671-1751)
Violin Sonata da Chiesa in D Minor [8.24]
Benedetto MARCELLO (1686-1739)
Oboe Concerto in C minor [10.37]
Scottish Ensemble/Jonathan Morton (leader)
rec. November 2009 Caird Hall, Dundee, Scotland
George Frideric HANDEL
Oveture, ‘Atalanta’, HWV 35 [3.55]
‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’, from ‘Birthday Ode for Queen Anne’, HWV 74 [3.28]
‘Sento la goia’, from Act 3 of ‘Amidigi di Gaula’ HWV11 [4.37]
Sinfonia, from Act 3 of ‘Amidigi di Gaula’ HWV11 [1.23]
The English Concert/Trevor Pinnock
rec. April 2012, St. Jude on the Hill, London, UK

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