Alison Balsom

Haydn, Hummel: Trumpet Concertos

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AllMusic Review by

With the large selection of recordings on the market for both the Haydn and Hummel trumpet concertos, the browser might be forgiven for wondering whether British trumpeter Alison Balsom's no-neckline look might be the chief attraction here. It's not the case, and Balsom crafts a distinctive interpretation of these familiar works within the category of modern-instrument, chamber-orchestra readings. Annotator Jonathan Freeman-Attwood points out an interesting feature of the Haydn concerto's outer movements: the composer's humorous treatment of the fanfares conventionally associated with the trumpet. The instrument seems to be trying to assert itself against the flow of melody characteristic of Haydn's time. Balsom catches this humor with restrained playing that has an unmistakably sly quality. She also handles the virtuoso demands of the Hummel concerto effortlessly; offers very langorous, lovely slow movements; and switches gears into a sparer idiom for the Trumpet Concerto in D major by Giuseppe Torelli, which would have originally been played on a natural trumpet. The Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, with Balsom apparently conducting from the trumpet, offers support in keeping with the general mood. The only complaints, and they are small ones, are that the program ends with a thud with the slight trumpet concerto (originally for hunting horn) by Jan Neruda and that the program is short at under 53 minutes. The shorter concertos would have worked better as an entr'acte, with the Hummel at the end. The sound, captured at a Lutheran church in suburban Bremen, is on the bright side, but reveals Balsom's subtle approach nicely. The buyer new to these familiar trumpet pieces can choose this release with confidence.

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