Search - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Astor Piazzolla, Oskar Frederik Lindberg :: Caprice - Alison Balsom

Caprice - Alison Balsom
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Astor Piazzolla, Oskar Frederik Lindberg
Caprice - Alison Balsom
Genres: World Music, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (18) - Disc #1

It is only natural that players of instruments with a limited repertoire should resort to transcriptions, citing a long line of arrangers from Bach to Liszt to Heifetz. However, the suitability of the material is as import...  more »


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

It is only natural that players of instruments with a limited repertoire should resort to transcriptions, citing a long line of arrangers from Bach to Liszt to Heifetz. However, the suitability of the material is as important as the skill of the transcriber, and you don't have to be a "purist" to object to some of Balsom's choices. Some of the transcriptions are her own, some are by Julian Milone, a violinist, who also provided the orchestrations of the non-orchestral accompaniments. Unfortunately they sound unnatural compared to Mozart's, in an aria from his Die Zauberflöte, and Bach's, in a movement of his A minor Violin Concerto. Two numbers are for trumpet alone: Paganini's 24th Caprice for violin, which keeps jumping from the highest to the lowest register, bringing out the worst of both, and Debussy's "Syrinx" for flute, which loses its languid character. The "Turkish Rondo" from Mozart's A major Piano Sonata is least satisfying: played in E-flat minor (instead of A minor), it sounds strident, and its breakneck pace destroys the original's grace and buoyancy. The arrangement often gives the melody to the orchestra and un-Mozartian virtuosic interjections to the trumpet. De Falla's Seven Popular Spanish Songs, orchestrated by Luciano Berio complete with castanets, come off better, and not surprisingly, two pieces by trumpet players are most successful: Jean-Baptiste Arban's Variations on Bellini's "Casta Diva," and the Nocturne from Henri Tomasi's Trumpet Concerto. Slow, dreamy and impressionistic, the Concerto is the only "original" piece on the program, and the listener wishes the disc had included all of it. On this record, the playing's the thing. Alison Balsom is a stunning virtuoso; she commands a huge register, a large range of dynamics and colors, and can achieve hair-raising speeds with ease and clarity. This is her second CD; the first was an all-Bach album. --Edith Eisler

CD Reviews

You know when....
Alexander T. Gafford | Midland, Ga United States | 12/03/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You know a recording gets 5 stars when you find yourself playing it at every opportunity and that is the case here. I was favorably impressed with Ms Balsom's Bach album but I am really in love with this one. The reason is the variety of voice that she brings to the music. From a brassy brazen sound to deep, rich, dark tone to a string singing sound, she employs whatever is appropriate to the music. The choice of music ranges widely and is not composed of all too familiar workhorses. You may not like all the transciptions equally - I didn't - but she brings to each clarity of technique and real commitment to the content. The Gothenburg group is a good band that helps out effectively and the recorded sound is clear and defined. This is just a well produced project.

I played trumpet in high school in college decades ago but I think comparisons of Alison Balsom's playing to that of Wynton Marsalis or Maurice Andre are beside the point. The point is that in front of us is a musical treasure to savor over and over again. On the strength of this recital, I will buy more of her recordings and I would look forward to hearing her in concert if every the opportunity arose."
A New Favorite in My Musical Library
Kevin Peterson | Milwaukee, WI | 10/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I became a fan of Alison Balsom after hearing her exceptional Bach CD. I've since purchased her debut disc and was equally impressed. So it goes without saying that I've been eagerly awaiting the release of "Caprice" since I'd heard it was coming out. She most certainly delivered, both in her playing and in Julian Milone's excellent arranging that compliments her wonderfully.

Ms. Balsom plays each and every track on this CD with a wonderful sound and exquisite musicianship. Mozart transcribed for trumpet has always struck me the wrong way (despite being a trumpet player myself), but her arrangements of "Rondo alla Turca" and "Der Hölle Rache" (from Mozart's "The Magic Flute") were both interpretively correct and a delight to listen to. Debussy's "Syrinx," originally a piece for solo flute, is also marvelously played; with Ms. Balsom imitating the phrasing and articulation of a flautist very well. Her playing of Oskar Lindberg's "Andante" from "Gammal fäbodpsalm från Dalarna" was very emotionally evocative, and it's made even better by Ms. Balsom's sweet, luscious, captivating sound. The solo performance of Niccolò Paganini's "Caprice No. 24" (a piece that's difficult on violin, let alone the trumpet) is positively virtuosic, with every intervallic leap executed both flawlessly and musically.

But trumpet players, fear not! There is some more "traditional" trumpet repertoire on this disc. Jean-Baptiste Arban's "Variations on 'Casta Diva'" is executed in a fashion comparable to one of her teachers, Håkan Hardenberger. Furthermore, one would never know the piece was performed on C trumpet and not a more authentic cornet without reading the accompanying credits. The "Nocturne" from Henri Tomasi's "Concerto for Trumpet" is also played very well, but I would have preferred to hear the concerto in it's entirety. This is really the only negative point I have on the disc.

However, I was most excited about hearing her perform Manuel de Falla's "7 Popular Spanish Songs." I had listened to Ms. Balsom play this particular piece live in a recital accompanied by piano, and was positively mesmerized. Hearing her performance of the piece with orchestra was equally mesmerizing, if not moreso.

Since I first purchased her Bach disc, it's been nearly impossible for a passenger to sit in my car and not hear an Alison Balsom CD being played. She's not only one of my favorite recording artists, but is a model for my own trumpet playing. It's safe to say that I (and my passengers!) will be eagerly awaiting Ms. Balsom's next CD."
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 01/11/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Titling a collection of works CAPRICE ('a disposition to do things impulsively') is entirely in keeping with the magnetism and flair of the talented, beautiful, and intensely musical trumpeter Alison Balsom. For this listener the introduction to Miss Balsom was a recent Los Angeles Philharmonic performance of contemporary works, the one being played by Miss Balsom was the exceedingly beautiful and treacherously difficult Bernd Alois Zimmermann 'Concerto for Trumpet and Orchestra: Nobody knows the trouble I see'. Witnessing the live performance of this gifted lass resulted in the immediate purchase of her recordings.

CAPRICE is a terrific collection of works arranged for trumpet and while such collections don't appeal on every level, for this recording Balsom makes it work. She is equally at home with Bach (of course), Mozart, and Paganini as she is with Debussy, Rachmaninov, de Falla, the infectious Piazzolla, Lindberg, and Tomasi. It is a varied recital, ably assisted by Edward Gardner conducting the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, and while not every 'transcription' feels right, the performances ring with an authenticity because of Balsom's assured technique.

With the technical skill Balsom possesses and the flair for interaction with not only the orchestra but also with the audience it seems obvious that she is secure on the ladder of success. She is an intelligent musician and a dazzling spirit! Grady Harp, January 08"