Bach, Torelli, Corelli, Fasch
with Stephen Cleobury & Tom Etheridge, organ
The Choir of King’s College, Cambridge
Academy of Ancient Music
Pavlo Beznosiuk, conductor
Warner Classics, 2016
There is really something to rejoice in Jubilo, the album which Alison Balsom dedicated to Baroque trumpet music written by two Italian and two German composers: Arcangelo Corelli, Giuseppe Torelli, Johann Sebastian Bach and Johann Friedrich Fasch. She explains that «the initial inspiration for this album was the joyous association many of us have with the trumpet and Winter festivities. However, it has ended up not following the usual repertoire normally associated with a traditional Christmas album. Instead, I felt inspired to combine two very different musical forces, but two that I’m equally passionate about: the glorious organ of the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge, played by the peerless Stephen Cleobury (with one chorale including a delightful guest appearance from arguably the greatest choir in the world); and the Academy of Ancient Music, an ensemble that has profoundly moved me countless times, but who, until now, I have never had the privilege of collaborating with. The two forces are infinitely different in colour, timbre, size, strength and detail, but I think they are complementary in beautiful and unexpected ways».
Jubilo is a lovely, light and inspiring album. Balsom is surrounded by the excellent an excellent choir, a prestigious orchestra and two remarkable organists. All the performers play and sing in harmony, as if they are thinking in unison, and Balsom is perfect in this repertoire thanks to her sweetness and grace. She is an exquisite trumpeter indeed and gives new life to Baroque music without any effort. Among the best pieces, I remember especially Bach’s cantata Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, Corelli’s Concerto grosso (the so-called Christmas concerto), where Balsom gives a delicate touch of intimacy, and Bach’s Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ. This last is particularly interesting because the organ echoes the trumpet with equal skill and warmth.