Alison Balsom: Caprice

The crucial distinction here would be that Ms. Balsom is not a vocalist, although her
singing tone on her chosen instrument, the trumpet, deserves acknowledgment.

Actually, the Bellini selection is an arrangement (by Julian Milone) of Jean-Baptiste Arban’s
“Variations on ‘Casta Diva’.” For Caprice serves primarily as a showcase for the phenomenal
technique of Ms. Balsom. Whether whipping through Milone’s adaptation of Mozart’s “Rondo
alla Turca,” tangoing in Piazzolla (Milone again), or sighing through her own version of
Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” Ms. Balsom leaves no doubt that she possesses not only great
technical skills but also an admirable interpretative touch.

Perhaps the disc would be even better with a bit more focus; to skip from Paganini’s famous
“Caprice” to Berio’s settings of Falla’s “Seven popular Spanish songs,” with Bach and Debussy
still to come, can create a sort of musical whiplash. Consider the recording more “iPod material”
then — something to dip into or enjoy along with other music using the “shuffle” feature.

Edward Gardner, recently appointed to lead the orchestra for English National Opera, here
conducts the Gothenburg Symphony Orhestra. They provide wonderful support for their star,
who need not rely on her physical attractions — estimable, as the photos demonstrate — to hold
an audience’s attention. A very enjoyable disc.

Chris Mullins

product_by=Alison Balsom, trumpet, Gˆteborg Symfoniker, Edward Gardner (cond.)
product_id=EMI Classics 0094635325522 [CD]