The Titlebar Archive: Alison Balsom

Music Alison Balsom's new album Seraph is another example of her championing new composers and so widening the range of music available to trumpeters and transforming the image of an instrument often left in the hands of male soloists. James MacMillan's title track crosses string accompaniment surely influenced by Bernard Hermann (there's a lot of that about lately) with an often painful melody that captures (I think) the melancholy fractures of a personality oscillating between self-delusional happiness and utter despair with hints of nostalgia.  In the second movement it's even as though her trumpet and a violin are sharing a very private grief.

Not a happy album by any means and certainly not as accessible as her earlier presentments of Hummel or Bach or re-orchestrations of Italian Violin Concertos, the music which I've loved across the years.  Perhaps the most piercing, because of its familiarity, is the cover of Nobody Knows which plays out against a simple set of chords and tiny piano intrusions, a painful, funerary polar opposite to the usual gospel interpretations.  Nevertheless if you're in the right mood, Seraph is well worth seeking out (it's on Spotify too).  The title bar is from the inlay of her earlier, happier album Caprice.  The sitting on steps shot on the front of Seraph is too vertical for both her and her instrument to sit comfortably in the 980x200 pixel space.

For an instant hit, here she is Hummeling at the Classical Brits:

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