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Alison Balsom, Music for Trumpet & Organ,
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This review is from: Music for Trumpet and Organ (Audio CD)
Balsom, Alison. Music for Trumpet & Organ
This is the first CD from Alison Balsom who was earlier this year awarded winner of the Young British Classical Performer of 2006. Recorded in 2002 it consists of a collection of eight pieces of music spanning some five centuries - from the Baroque era of Bach, Purcell & Sweelinck to the relatively contemporary music of Petr Eben. Quentin Thomas provides the organ accompaniment to Alison's various instruments used throughout this recording including natural trumpet, piccolo trumpet and flugelhorn.
This may seem a wide range of music to put on one disc, but to me the organ / trumpet instrument pairing has always suggested a somewhat timeless feel which has enabled the compositions of the Baroque period to sit comfortably with the modern day works for these instruments. Both the organ and trumpet have a purity of sound, a suggestion of importance and occasion which pairs the instruments so well.
The music chosen by Alison for this debut disc cannot be faulted. The opening track from Sweelinck's Variations is beautifully performed and is a great example of how composers of the Renaissance / Baroque period could take a relatively simple theme and work it into a masterpiece. For me this is a first rate piece of music which has become one of my favourites on this disc.
The disc continues with Bach's Allemande (originally scored for solo violin), Purcell's King Arthur, and a lovely traditional piece called Shenandoah for solo trumpet.
The music starts to get contemporary with Henri Tomasi's Semaine Saint a Cuzco (Holy Week in Cuzco), continuing with Massiaen's Vocalise-Etude.
The disc concludes with Petr Eben's Windows, and it is this piece that offers the greatest challenge to the listener. The work, written in 1980, was inspired by the Russian-French painter Marc Chagall's stained glass windows in the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem. The piece is extremely varied, sometimes mysterious and haunting but always demanding. It is not immediately easy to understand or appreciate but this makes it so much more rewarding on subsequent listening. I like it, and have come to compare it with Mussorgsky's familiar Pictures at an Exhibition.
In summary an excellent debut album by Alison Balsom, complemented superbly by the organ playing of Quentin Thomas.