Alison Balsom; Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra; Edward Gardner

EMI Classics 3 53255 2

In recent years there has been a trend on the part of some instrumentalists to demonstrate their skills by performing transcriptions of works which were not originally written for their instruments. In some cases they have been orchestral works, and in others they were originally choral or solo vocal works. With one exception, a single movement from a Tomasini Trumpet Concerto, all of the tracks on this CD fall into that category.

Although little known in North America, this young British trumpet performer has made quite a name for herself throughout Europe. On the one hand, her performance is as brilliant as you will hear from any trumpet virtuoso when she plays Mozart’s Rondo alla turca or Paganini’s Caprice No. 24. Then, when she turns to Piazzolla’s Libertango or Rachmoninov’s Vocalise, the result is a haunting mellow tone rarely heard in a trumpet performance. Of particular interest to trumpet aficionados is her rendition of Arban’s Variations on Casta Diva from Bellini’s opera Norma. Casta Diva has always been one of my favourite operatic arias and this version shed a whole new light on it.

Anyone who has ever been serious about playing a brass instrument will be familiar with Jean Batiste Arban’s “Tutor and most will be familiar with his ever popular Variations on The Carnival of Venice. However, I had to dig out my copy of that publication to confirm that I have owned it these many years. These variations would be an amazing challenge for any instrumentalist. Alison Balsom meets that challenge with apparent ease.

Jack MacQuarrie

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