Quiet City

Alison Balsom / Scott Stroman / Britten Sinfonia

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Quiet City Review

by James Manheim

Trumpeter Alison Balsom neatly weaves together several objectives on this program of mostly American music. One is to introduce jazz influences at several levels without turning this into a jazz album. Here, Balsom succeeds, including not only an ambitious arrangement of Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue but also Leonard Bernstein and a trumpet version of a Kurt Weill song in a Gil Evans arrangement. The Gershwin, arranged by Simon Wright, reassigns much of the melodic material (including the famous glissando) to the trumpet while not disregarding the piano part; it is an intricate balance with sensitive work on the piano from Tom Poster. Another idea of Balsom's here is to broaden perhaps British conceptions of American classical music, which is more than an offshoot of jazz. The showcase is the title work, Aaron Copland's underplayed Quiet City, and Balsom offers a tour de force of quiet playing, not overwhelming the English horn. The Rodrigo Concierto de Aranjuez has connections to both these tendencies through its association with Miles Davis' Sketches of Spain LP. Balsom fans will be perfectly satisfied by the fact that the star sounds as creamy as ever, but others will be pleased to hear that her ideas about programming have taken a new and adventurous turn.

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