Review: Haydn's Trumpet Concerto: Alison Balsom, Music of the Baroque, Jane Glover
The Harris Theatre, Chicago
“Although Mozart was ostensibly the evening’s honoree, it was English trumpeter Alison Balsom who stole the spotlight as the soloist in Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto.
Balsom is something of a modern exemplar for this piece of standard trumpet repertoire, and it’s easy to see why. Throughout the first movement, she brought a radiant sound and a lustrous clarino that soared effortlessly over the ensemble, and her technical bravado in the concise yet staggering cadenza left the audience breathless. Balsom’s mastery in this work, however, is most evident in her seamless interplay with the ensemble, as was heard in the Andante — whether trading rippling melodies with the first violins or blending into the orchestral mix with a plush timbre of her own, her contributions were balanced and precise. For their part, Glover and her band delivered playing was deserving of their star guest.
Clearly a crowd favorite, Balsom was met with hoots and vigorous applause from the moment she appeared onstage. The volcanic standing ovation that followed her performance seemed inevitable; as an encore, she played the final movement of Bach’s transcription of Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in D Major."
“Perhaps it was my childhood experience making awful squawking sounds on a clarinet, but it just feels like a brass or woodwind solo is a particularly hazardous high-wire act. Maybe a violinist or pianist playing at high velocity could mask a missed note or a slightly off-key fingering. But one slip of the lip or short breath can sour the audience on a brass or reed soloist.
That is one reason, perhaps, why Alison Balsom’s flawless virtuoso turn as guest artist for Music of the Baroque’s Harris Theater concert January 23 was so captivating. Performing Franz Joseph Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto in E-flat-major, Hob. Vlle.:1, this international star from England made every note ring true. And after a roof-raising standing ovation, she returned to the stage with a piccolo trumpet—smaller than the standard instrument, with keys on the side rather than on top—and breezed through a trumpet solo interpolation of Antonio Vivaldi’s Violin Concerto in D-major.
Along with her extraordinary talent, Balsom is a passionate advocate for music education. That put her in the right place, as this is also a passion for Jane Glover, Music of the Baroque’s conductor and artistic director, and audiences seldom leave an M.O.B. concert without learning something about classical music."