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Seraph (Tine Thing Helseth)

Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet); Ensemble Allegria (Lawo Classics)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Eric Ewazen: Concerto for Trumpet and Strings; James MacMillan: Seraph; plus works by Arutiunian, Grieg, Poulenc, Satie and Rolf Wallin
Tine Thing Helseth (trumpet); Ensemble Allegria
Lawo LWC1251   48:26 mins


Eric Ewazen, an American composer now in his late sixties, writes in a basically tonal idiom, although, in the Concerto, the sense of key is fluid, which can lead to a lack of direction. The first movement offsets this with syncopated rhythms, and the scherzo which follows has a light dancing character, with some of the modal quality of, say, Vaughan Williams. There’s always a lyrical feeling in the melodic lines, which come to the fore in the third-movement ‘Elegia’, before a final Allegro with trickily changing time signatures.

What’s in no doubt is the quality of Helseth’s playing, both technically and in the breadth of her phrasing and tonal resource. She’s well partnered by the conductorless Ensemble Allegria, and the recording is clear and detailed.

Wallin’s brief Elegi shares some characteristics with Ewazen’s ‘Elegia’, in its repeated string chords and soulful solo line, but is more concentrated and affecting. It acts as a good bridge before MacMillan’s Seraph, where Helseth faces recorded competition from Alison Balsom, the work’s dedicatee. She’s even more sprightly than Balsom in the first movement, in her faster tempo and lighter phrasing, and yields nothing emotionally in the Adagio. Her cadenza-like duet with the solo violin could be more evenly balanced, but the finale again shows off her tight rhythmic control and mastery of phrasing, including some very effective flutter-tonguing.

Of the four short bonnes bouches which complete the disc, Poulenc’s Les chemins de l’amour and Satie’s Je te veux are especially charming.


Martin Cotton