Trumpet

Alison Balsom

Alison Balsom was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 90th Birthday honours in November 2016. 2013 Gramophone Artist of the Year, three time winner at the Classic BRITs and three time winner at the Echo Klassik Awards, Alison Balsom has cemented an international reputation as one of classical music’s great ambassadors and is ranked amongst the most distinctive musicians on the international circuit today

© Jason Joyce

Introduction

Alison Balsom has performed with some of the greatest conductors and orchestras of our time including Pierre Boulez, Lorin Maazel, Sir Roger Norrington, l’Orchestre de Paris, San Francisco and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, Philadelphia Orchestra, New York and London Philharmonic orchestras, and appeared as soloist at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 2009. In addition, she regularly collaborates with many of the world’s leading chamber ensembles including the Academy of Ancient Music, Il Pomo d’Oro and The English Concert.
Alison was a BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, subsequently leading to regular performances the BBC Orchestras. She studied at both the Paris Conservatoire, and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and, in addition to her honorary doctorates from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Leicester, is now an honorary Fellow and visiting Professor at the Guildhall. Alison teaches masterclasses worldwide, including at the Juilliard School and the Curtis Institute.
Alison was an exclusive EMI Classics artist (now Warner Classics) from 2001 – 2017.


Discography

  • 19 Jan 17 HAYDN Trumpet Concerto Orchestre National de Toulouse
    Halle aux Grains Toulouse
    More info  

    “Alison Balsom est une trompettiste spectaculaire. Occupant le devant de la scène dans une élégante “ combinaison spatiale “ d’un bleu prussien, sa sauvage chevelure blonde déployée, elle interprète le concerto pour trompette en mi bémol majeur de Joseph Haydn avec une maestria consommée. Sonorité claire et éclatante, panache de la virtuosité, charme enjoleur sont au rendez-vous et magnifient cette vision brillante, d’autant que l’accompagnement de Tugan Sokhiev et de son orchestre priviligie une option chambriste qui met particulièrement en valeur les explosions cristallines de cette rayonnante soliste. Après le triomphe, Alison Balsom nous offre une transcription pour trompette du Syrinx de Debussy: instant magique…”
    Jean-Félix Marquette, Utmisol, January 2017

    “La séduction déployée par la trompettiste anglaise Alison Balsom a complètement subjugué le public toulousain. La présence flamboyante de la femme à la chevelure d’or en combinaison de pantalons bleue a réveillé dès son entrée sur scène un public transi par l’hiver installé. Le feu du tempérament a été totalement maitrisé par la virtuose de la trompette qui a semblé ne faire qu’une bouchée de cette agréable partition de Haydn. Il semble que toute nuance lui soit possible avec des fortissimi explosifs mais surtout des murmures d’une grande délicatesse sur un fil infime. La cadence lui permet une démonstration de la transcendance des possibilités de son instrument. La longueur du souffle est immense et les doigts semblent libres d’aller à leur guise. La musicalité est exquise et l’élégance coule à chaque instant et tout particulièrement dans le délicat andante”
    Hubert Stoecklin, Classique News, January 2017

    “Alison Balsom s’empare de cette œuvre avec une aisance et un naturel souriants. Sonorité brillante, justesse absolue, virtuosité sans faille s’accompagnent d’une musicalité et d’une finesse rares. Dès le premier énoncé du thème initial, la soliste démontre son sens du phrasé et de l’articulation. Alternant subtilement legato et staccato, elle donne vie à cette écriture raffinée. La cadence très technique, mais pas seulement, qui conclut l’Allegro initial, si elle rappelle par instant, en guise d’hommage, celle que pratiquait Maurice André, est signée de l’interprète elle-même…Sans excès de romantisme, elle confère à l’Andante cette tendresse si caractéristique que le compositeur y développe. Le final pétille de bonheur et d’imagination. Tout au long du concerto, de fructueux dialogues s’établissent avec un orchestre aux petits soins. Le grand succès que recueille la soliste obtient d’elle un bis particulièrement original, sa version pour trompette de Syrinx que Debussy composa pour la flûte. Un beau moment de poésie.”
    Classic Toulouse, Serge Chauzy, January 2017

  • 17 Nov 16 HUMMEL Trumpet Concerto in E major Kammerorchester Basel
    European Tour
    More info  

    “Die seit rund fünfzehn Jahren international erfolgreiche Balsom entlockt ihrem goldenen Instrument Töne, die ein strahlendes Selbstbewusstsein vermitteln. Nicht nur im eröffnenden Arpeggio des Es-Dur-Konzerts von Johann Nepomuk Hummel, sondern auch in zahlreichen anderen Passagen, den brillanten Läufen etwa oder in den anschwellenden Schlusstrillern. Diese Töne bestechen durch ihre Direktheit und ihre Klarheit und wirken doch niemals unangenehm stechend…Zudem überzeugt Balsoms souverän angelegte Interpretation, die Art, wie sie in ihrem Solopart die unterschiedlichen Abschnitte aufeinander reagieren lässt. Es entstehen angeregte Dialoge mit dem ebenfalls sehr inspiriert spielenden Kammerorchester, oder auch eine berührende, gesangliche Innigkeit im langsamen Mittelsatz. In ihrer Zugabe, dem eigens arrangierten «Old Swedish Folk Song» von Oscar Lindberg, erschafft sie Momente von eigener Poesie.”
    Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Moritz Weber, November 2016 

  • 31 Oct 16 'Legende' recital with Tom Poster and Peter Moore
    Wigmore Hall, UK
    More info  

    “Much of this programme was diligent and skilful rather than dazzlingly virtuosic. In one sense that was refreshing: part of Balsom’s evangelism is how she deploys her sweet, coppery timbre and elegant phrasing in the service of music that doesn’t conform to trumpety clichés. Balsom handled the twisty, angular turns of Honegger’s Intrada, Enescu’s slippery but rousing Légende, and Hindemith’s nervy, twitchy Trumpet Sonata with supple musicality…The pair showed most spontaneous character in a piece of their own devising (it also appears on the album), The Thoughts of Dr May. Inspired by Brian May yet not obviously in thrall to the hits of Queen, it left more of a lingering aftertaste.”
    Neil Fisher, The Times, November 2016 

  • 19 May 16 Legende (CD) with Tom Poster (piano)
    More info  

    “Alison Balsom is the poster girl of British classical music and one of the worlds’ finest trumpeters…This new album contains a remarkable range of music and… I think it’s a winner…For great-tune enthusiasts, Balsom…dishes up quality arrangements of two big items from the Great American Songbook.  And thoroughly exciting…is Jean Francaix’s perky Sonatine.”
    ★★★★ David Mellor, The Mail on Sunday, May 2016

    “This lively CD displays the versatility and brilliance of the trumpet.  At times poignant and melancholic, it suddenly changes to dazzling displays of virtuosity.”
    The Lady, GS, May 2016

    “Balsom’s bright, perfectly controlled lines and close ensemble with pianist Tom Poster pass all the tests. Brava!”
    AllMusic, James Manheim, May 2016

    “Balsom’s quiet sostenuto playing is marvellous, her trumpet sound subtly reined in as the music draws to a close.”
    The Arts Desk, Graham Rickson, May 2016 

  • 06 Dec 15 'A Baroque Christmas' London Chamber Orchestra
    Saffron Hall, UK
    More info  

    “Vibrant, thrilling, fresh and at turns graceful, melancholic and magisterial, this was music made to feel as current today as it was over three hundred years ago. Injecting the day with warmth and light, Alison Balsom and the London Chamber Orchestra delighted an appreciative audience from beginning to end.”
    Christina McNally, Dunmow Broadcast, December 2015 

  • 06 Sep 15 Guy BARKER 'The Lanterne of Light' BBC Concert Orchestra
    Royal Albert Hall, London (BBC Proms)
    More info  

    “Guy Barker’s work is a small masterpiece – a concerto for a post-modern age, interpreted brilliantly by Alison Balsom”
    ★★★★ Barry Creasy, MusicOMH, September 2015

    “It was superbly played, and Balsom, ferociously dexterous, did indeed sound far from angelic in it.”
    Tim Ashley, The Guardian, September 2015

    “Alison Balsom was the articulate soloist for the world premiere of Guy Barker’s trumpet concerto The Lanterne of Light…Balsom sold the work persuasively, moving between instruments to generate everything from electronically-enhanced sonic effects to
    straight virtuoso fanfares, with a particularly effective detour midway into jazz and a tango heady with cigarette smoke and sex appeal.”
    Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk, September 2015

  • 20 Apr 15 Bramwell TOVEY Songs of the Paradise Saloon London Philharmonic Orchestra
    Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
    More info  

    “When Alison Balsom came on as trumpet soloist, in lemon-yellow killer heels, things warmed up considerably. She was playing the solo in Bramwell Tovey’s recently written Songs Of The Paradise Saloon, a set of variations based on a scene from an opera by Tovey. She’s played it under the composer’s baton in the USA more than once, and it could be (though it wasn’t originally) made for her…There’s so much opportunity for the trumpet – and the cornet and the flugelhorn, which the soloist also plays in this work – to sound in lyrical style, as well as raising the rafters, which she does to perfection.”

    Robert Beale, Manchester Evening News, April 2015

  • 13 Jan 15 HUMMEL Trumpet Concerto in E Major Austin Symphony Orchestra
    Peter Bay, Austin
    More info  

    “Balsom, glittering on stage in a long champagne dress, cast a warm presence on stage, and proceeded with generous playing that showed the full landscape of what a master of the instrument can accomplish.Playing Hummel’s “Trumpet Concerto in E Major,” Balsom took all the trumpet’s edges and rendered them round and warm. Her tone held through an array of dynamics, even gentle sections sounded beautiful… The audience heard an encore with full orchestra, a Piazzolla work that smartly cleansed the palate and shifted the mood to a swaying work by the tango master. Balsom dazzled once again.”
    Luke Quinton, Austin 360, January 2015

  • 30 Sep 14 Solo Recital Tour
    United Kingdom
    More info  

    “Alison Balsom is a special musician, a sensational player… simply awesome.”
    Kevin Cooper, Nottingham Post, September 2014

    “Alison delivered a performance of breathtaking quality and variety.”
    The Bristol Post, September 2014

    “Trumpeter Alison Balsom has unequivocally cemented her reputation as one of the most highly regarded and innovative musicians of the 21st century…Balsom is a first-class, supremely talented trumpeter and her spoken intros to each piece were articulate and insightful, but her real piece de resistance of the evening was to assimilate an incredibly diverse and eclectic range of musical material that coalesced into a totally satisfying whole. Under Balsom’s slick, polished playing and the equally faultless musicianship of her band, they segued effortlessly from classical to jazz to modern without any of the pieces ever seeming incongruous. Balsom has brought a dynamic, sexy edge to the unmistakable trumpet sound through exemplary, vibrant interpretations and a musical appeal that’s exciting and accessible. A thrilling, captivating celebration of the instrument from a world class player.”
    ★★★★ Jamie Caddick, 365 Bristol, September 2014 

    “Alison Balsom has defied all convention to become that rarest of things in the classical world: a crowd-drawing solo trumpeter, and a star to boot.”
    Rob Rule, Guide 2 Bristol, September 2014

    “British Trumpet player, Alison Balsom has established herself as one of the leading performers on her instrument, and tonight she presented a truly eclectic evening at The Royal Concert Hall with her own musicians…during her 90 minute set she showed us exactly why she is now one of the most highly regarded trumpeters and exciting classical musicians of her generation, as her infectious performance and signature tone quickly became a firm favourite with the music connoisseurs amongst this audience…Alison Balsom truly is a special player, but I would go further than that; she is a sensational player. With her talent and versatility, she is simply awesome.”
    Kevin Cooper, UK Gig Reviews, September 2014 

  • 31 Aug 13 'Gabriel'
    Shakespeare's Globe, London
    More info  

    “Balsom is simply divine.”
    Tim Walker, The Telegraph, September 2013 

    Gabriel leaves you giddy with pleasure and fully smitten with the work of Henry Purcell…the exquisite nature of this instrument wins out, with Balsom beautiful to listen to (let alone behold) during faultless renditions of The Plaint from The Fairy Queen and Handel’s Eternal Source of Light Divine, with Jessie Buckley and William Purefoy the mesmerising soloists in either case. At such moments, the mood rises to so transcendent a strain of melancholy sweetness that I swear you melt, absolutely melt.
    ★★★★ Domenic Cavendish, The Telegraph, September 2013

    “Above it all soars that music, played with exquisite eloquence by Balsom.”
    ★★★★ Sarah Hemming, The Financial Times, September 2013

    “Most theatre falls into familiar categories. This, however, is a piece that gloriously defies definition. It can best be described as a series of short plays by Samuel Adamson celebrating the rackety London of the 1690s, the genius of Henry Purcell, and the limitless potential of the solo trumpet, here played by Alison Balsom, who inspired the whole enterprise. It makes for one of the most enjoyable evenings I’ve spent at the Globe…Balsom, on stage virtually throughout, also uses her renowned skill to display the instrument’s versatile eloquence. It is an exceptional evening.”
    ★★★★Michael Billington, The Guardian

  • 30 Apr 13 Concerts Tour The Scottish Ensemble
    United States
    More info  

    “Her performance was filled with brilliant, strikingly accurate phrasing, delicate interplay with the orchestra … and stunning flourishes of musical color… An ordinary classical superstar would be content with having successfully transformed two challenging compositions, each written for different instruments, into showcases for the trumpet, but Balsom combines a restless musical intellect with physical talent and stamina, and these qualities were all very much on display during the second half…In addition to her unusually multifaceted approach to the music, Balsom brings a winning stage presence to her performances, and the effect is festive to the point of celebration…..The overall impact of Balsom’s Santa Barbara debut was a triumph, and one expects that this tour will earn her an even larger following in this country.”
    Charles Donelan, Santa Barbara Independent, May 2013 

    “A high-profile star on the international stage, Balsom is a simply astonishing trumpet player….she sailed through wickedly complex ornaments and melodies Friday night with complete ease. Her tone is even and round, with none of the edge that can turn a trumpet flourish into a blaring race!”Wynne Delacoma, Chicago Classical Review, May 2013