The theme of Paris is the rather tenuous thread that runs through this luxuriant new album by trumpeter Alison Balsom.
As well as a peerless technique, Balsom’s great strength is choosing repertoire that transcribes well for the trumpet. The result is a riveting mix of works from Ravel to Reinhardt and Piazzolla which represents the trumpet not in its usual triumphalist role but instead at its most seductive and exotic.
Alison Balsom’s task is well supported by some impressive orchestral arrangements from Guy Barker, most notably in Messiaen’s Le Baiser de l’Enfant Jésus, a stimulating addition to proceedings that marks this album out as something much more than a stroll in a musical park. Less convincing are Balsom’s forays into jazz standard territory, where her sound is too stiff and manicured.
But that is to nitpick an accomplished recording; listening to Paris is rather like being massaged by a velvet glove. It’s quite clear Balsom has serious ambitions for the trumpet and this album will only enhance her reputation as one of the classical world’s top performers and original thinkers.