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Seraph: Trumpet Concertos

Alison Balsom Audio CD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £8.71 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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“She makes the trumpet sing with an irresistible exuberance and eloquence.”

- Richard Morrison, The Times, September 2008

A highly acclaimed artist and one of music’s great ambassadors, Alison Balsom was named Best Young British Performer at the 2006 Classical BRITs and was honoured with the Classic FM Listener’s Award at the September 2006 Gramophone ... Read more in Amazon's Alison Balsom Store

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Frequently Bought Together

Seraph: Trumpet Concertos + Sound the Trumpet - Royal Music of Purcell and Handel + Italian Concertos
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Product details

  • Orchestra: Scottish Ensemble, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Jonathan Morton, Lawrence Renes
  • Composer: James MacMillan, Toru Takemitsu, Alexander Arutiunian, Bernd Alois Zimmerman
  • Audio CD (9 Jan 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: EMI
  • ASIN: B0063J80TK
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,373 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Song TitleArtist Time Price
Listen  1. Seraph for Trumpet and String Orchestra: IAlison Balsom/Scottish Ensemble/Jonathan Morton 4:40£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  2. Seraph for Trumpet and String Orchestra: II (adagio)Alison Balsom/Scottish Ensemble/Jonathan Morton 5:10£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  3. Seraph for Trumpet and String Orchestra: III Marcato e ritmicoAlison Balsom/Scottish Ensemble/Jonathan Morton 5:29£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  4. 'Paths' for solo trumpetAlison Balsom 6:24£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  5. Trumpet Concerto in A Flat Major: Andante - Allegro EnergicoAlison Balsom/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Renes 8:15£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  6. Trumpet Concerto in A Flat Major: Meno MossoAlison Balsom/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Renes 3:23£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  7. Trumpet Concerto in A Flat Major: Tempo 1Alison Balsom/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Renes 3:34£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  8. Nobody KnowsAlison Balsom 4:27£0.99  Buy MP3 
Listen  9. Trumpet Concerto in C majorAlison Balsom/BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Lawrence Renes14:34Album Only

Product Description

CD Description

Alison Balsom is a unique and independent artist who have broken through to the mainstream whilst retaining her integrity and core musical values. Exceptional talent, a glamorous stage presence and a witty and engaging personality make Alison one of the most exciting and bankable artists in the core classical world today.

Alison’s new recording of modern and contemporary repertoire marks an important artistic stepping stone in her career. This labour of love features the world premiere recording of Seraph, James MacMillan’s trumpet concerto written for Alison, works by Takemitsu and Zimmermann and includes her long-awaited recording of the ever popular Arutunian Trumpet Concerto.

Product Description


Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maintaining a remarkably high standard! 1 Mar 2012
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Oh yes! Well done Alison Balsom and team. While she perfectly sensibly filled her previous CD releases with many familiar, popular pieces and strong transcriptions often from the baroque and early classical period, this CD is in a different league altogether. It takes some modern compositions that are musically superb, but have remained obscure because they are so darned difficult to play (so a lot of good trumpeters have stayed reluctant to try). Alison took the mature decision to wait until she felt able to add something in her interpretations, which has now paid off in a truly exceptional collection of recordings.

The set starts off with the one new piece, written by James MacMillan and dedicated to Alison Balsom. I'm generally not a huge MacMillan fan, as I feel he is often too intense and over-indulgent for my taste; but this three-movement trumpet concerto entited 'Seraph' is really good. Yes, its got MacMillan's trademark big intervals and dissonant structures, but he's given us enough tune to hang our hat on. There are several passages that must have taken every last breath and required extreme practise and precision. It works well, with the trumpet and Scottish Ensemble never at odds with one another.

Next is a piece by Toru Takemitsu for solo trumpet, inserted by Alison as a palette-cleanser after the concerto. Takemitsu's piece explores the range of the trumpet, from soft muted phrases to boldness. Like much of his work, it has a beautiful structure and gently touches the heart.

Alexander Arutiunian's Trumpet Concerto is full of lively energetic rhythms and calls for huge amounts of virtuosic playing, which Alison delivers by the bucketful.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy listening 29 Dec 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Nice music, performed very well. Good music to listen to on long car journeys.
Would recommend her music to others.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Alison Balsom in General 12 Nov 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
. The strumpet with the trumpet.!
NOT AS GOOD AS HER PREVIOUS cd' AND I HAVE 5 earlier ones. I now think Tine Thing Helsketh is a better blower...
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seraph trumpet concertos 6 Feb 2013
Format:Audio CD
This CD was despatched very promptly and content was as had been described. Alison Balsam is excellent and we ordered another of her CDs both thoroughly enjoyable.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balsom Is Heavenly 6 Feb 2014
By BDW - Published on
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I bought the disc for the variety of concerti with an emphasis on Zimmermann whose appropriation of jazz comes through in his work, but it was really the concerto by Arutunian that blew me away with its melodious and propulsive nature. Through all the works, the clarity and richness of Balsom playing comes shining through.
11 of 19 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Largely Uninspired Readings of Iconic Works 11 Jun 2012
By Matthew - Published on
Format:Audio CD
I should begin by saying that this recording is Alison Balsom's first foray into the world of "safer" avant-garde repertoire. Her output thus far has consisted of transcriptions of baroque works, the standard classical concertos, and "pops" transcriptions. Much of this she does quite well. So, the compositions presented here are more experimental than her usual fare, but not on the level of Stockhausen, Berio, Ligeti, Kagel, or any number of other important post-war composers who have added works to the trumpet repertoire. I tend to agree with other reviewers that she is probably better off sticking with her tried and true styles, but disagree that the music is to blame. Those interpreters who really shine on works like these might not be able to sell a tune as well as Ms. Balsom does, but that doesn't mean it's a bad tune.

In the world of 20th-Century trumpet concertos, Zimmermann's is a giant. Since its re-discovery in the late 80's it has become a staple in the repertoire of serious trumpet soloists and orchestras (moreso in Europe than in North America). That said, its representation on disc is still pretty small... and that said, this performance is an unimportant and unimpressive addition. The piece is colorful, layered, expressive, beautifully-orchestrated, and technically extremely demanding. It's a huge undertaking to present this work at its best, and it seems like this performance was just another studio cut of another piece. This approach to music might work for pops arrangements, but just doesn't cut it for such an intricate composition. Taken as a whole, this recording feels like a solid read-through with not much consideration or musical sensitivity added. The extremely colorful orchestration comes off as a bit dull and bland. The solo part is played extremely safely, and while this means there's a lot of finesse in the trumpet playing, it leaves the music cold and stale. It even seems as though in this studio setting, Ms. Balsom is struggling with some of the more demanding parts. The trumpet soloist in this work really needs to take on the character of a big band player, a jazz combo leader, soulful vocalist, and, at times, an engine for the entire orchestra. Generally these different characters aren't even present, but when they are they feel largely contrived.

One is much better off with any of the other three available recordings [Reinhold Friedrich with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony conducted by Dmitri Kitayenko; Marco Blaauw with the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie conducted by Susanna Mälkki; Håkan Hardenberger with the SWF Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden conducted by Michael Gielen (an extremely important Zimmermann interpreter)]; each of which offers a unique and personal take that only serves to bring out the amazing complexity of this piece. All three of these recordings are so alive and convincing that even if only one of them were available on the market, Ms. Balsom's addition would still come off as redundant. With all three of them out there, this performance just seems trivial. Sadly, this one is the most readily available in North America, but Reinhold Friedrich's energetic and colorful performance should be easy enough to find as well. Marco Blaauw's live concert recording is easily accessible in Europe. I believe the original Hardenberger/Gielen recording is currently out-of-print, but if one finds a used copy, don't pass it up as this recording as a whole (also featuring Zimmermann's oboe and cello concertos performed by Heinz Holliger and Heinrich Schiff respectively) is a real treasure. It can also be found on youtube.

The Takemitsu fares much better. Her sound is lovely and the EMI engineers did a good job serving it well. This very well might be the best recorded acoustic environment I've heard for this piece. Sadly, the performance is kind of micro-phrased and the larger (admittedly complex) structure of this short piece gets lost. It's kind of a stream-of-consciousness work with some intricate structural elements that are difficult to bring out, but this is what makes the piece really beautiful. That said, there are some lovely moments as she can really sing a line - it's just a shame she can't apply this natural gift for phrasing to larger structures. Interestingly enough, I can only recommend performances by the same trumpeters mentioned in the Zimmermann portion of this review.

In closing, I will say that the programming for this CD is also pretty bizarre. The Zimmermann and Takemitsu aren't exactly complimentary pieces, but at least they're both mainstays of the 20th-century trumpet repertoire. I guess it's the inclusion of the Arutiunian that puzzles me the most. Taken in other terms, it might be like a violinist presenting of CD of Berg and Khachaturian... if the Khachaturian Violin Concerto were almost completely unknown outside of violin circles. Perhaps marketing appeal to the largely trumpet-based demographic that might otherwise be disinterested? The MacMillan, I will briefly mention, is another unimpressive addition to the trumpet repertoire. Even in the world of more mainstream contemporary repertoire there are much more interesting pieces [see the two concertos by HK Gruber (written for Håkan Hardenberger), Peter Eötvös' "Jet Stream" (for Markus Stockhausen), the expansive concerto by Peter Maxwell Davies (for John Wallace), and even MacMillan's first concerto for the instrument (also for John Wallace)]. Even by MacMillan's standards, this piece is pretty pedestrian.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very good 10 Aug 2013
By mmeyers20 - Published on
Verified Purchase
i actually got balsom and helseth confused at first, they're so similar. i think helseth has the edge overall, but balsom is no slouch...truly impressive.
12 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not my kind of music 6 Mar 2012
By David K. Lee - Published on
Format:Audio CD
Alison is a terrific trumpeter, and I have several of her other albums. She is musically as adept in this one as she is in the others. However, I am much more fond of the type of music she has previously played. These pieces were too unstructured for me. "Wailing" is a term that came to mind. This is, of course, my personal taste. Others may like this style. Alison herself is as good as ever.
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