ALBUM TITLE: Caprice
WORKS: Works for Trumpet and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Alison Balsom; Gothenburg SO/Edward Gardner
CATALOGUE NO: 353 2552
The young British trumpeter Alison Balsom is a real star: resplendent and well-varied tone, crisp attack, absolute ease of production throughout the range. What a shame, then, that she and EMI have so little faith in the instrument’s own repertoire that they’ve made this showcase disc out of arrangements. A couple of Piazzolla tangos are suitably smoochy and bouncy, Rachmaninov’s Vocalise works surprisingly well, Arban’s virtuoso cornet fantasia on Bellini’s Norma (with a spruced-up accompaniment) is exhilarating. But Falla’s Seven Spanish Folksongs, in Berio’s vivid orchestrations, seem unexpectedly kitsch without the words (and more Mexican than Spanish), Debussy’s flute solo Syrinx loses its breathy intimacy, bits of Bach and Mozart sound plain wrong. And the one original track is hardly reassuring: the inclusion of just the evocative slow movement of Henri Tomasi’s Concerto suggests that we won’t be getting the whole piece in the foreseeable future.
So five stars for the playing, including efficient orchestral support, and four for the shiny recording quality, but for the programming I’d add the symbol of a golden turkey. Anthony Burton