Alison Balsom: The Italian Concertos Scottish Ensemble (EMI Classics)
Another week, another glamorous musician smiling beneath flowing blonde locks. This time, though, she's clasping a trumpet - an indication that we're in for something a little different. The sparkling martial tones of the trumpet are not, after all, synonymous with the soulful lyricism one expects with such an album cover. Yet here, Balsom reminds us of the ineffably moving tone that the instrument can produce, through an elegant selection of Baroque concertos arranged for trumpet. Some are less successful than others - Vivaldi's Violin Concerto in A minor, for example, is simply too familiar to translate successfully to such a different inspiration - rather more like a brass band arrangement than an accomplished concerto. Others, though, such as Marcello's stately Oboe Concerto in C Minor, allow her to fully explore the expressive qualities and varieties of tone in this too-neglected instrument. Even better is the Concerto after Tomaso Albinoni's Sonata da Chiesa in D Minor, in which the ornamentations on splendidly evocative melodic lines seem perfectly suited. Accompanied by the consistently excellent Scottish Ensemble, Balsom's extraordinarily agile technique and light tone make these works sing.
Also out in classical
Otello, Giuseppe Verdi Simon O'Neill, London Symphony Orchestra, Sir Colin Davis (cond) (LSO Live)
Celebrating 10 years of LSO Live, this recording features the Kiwi tenor O'Neill in the title role, singing it for the first time in public, and acquitting himself brilliantly. And that spontaneity is why live recordings can be so special.
The Armed Man, Karl Jenkins London Philharmonic, National Youth Choir of Great Britain (EMI) A 10th anniversary performance of Jenkins' popular work offers up a characteristic cultural patchwork. More interesting is the new work For the Fallen: In Memoriam Alfryn Jenkins, performed by Hayley Westonra and, rather wonderfully, Bernard Cribbins.