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Daniel PINKHAM (1923-2006)
Serenades for solo trumpet and wind ensemble (1980) [11:14]
Symphony No. 3 (1985) [13:35]
Symphony No. 4 (1990) [11:39]
Sonata No. 3 for organ and strings (1987) [11:39]
Maurice Murphy (trumpet); James David Christie (organ); London SO/James Sedares
rec. Abbey Road Studios, London, June 1994. DDD
Experience Classicsonline



The sparky and neon-vivid city-wise Serenades, by American composer Daniel Pinkham, works a treat in the hands of old hand celebrity trumpeter Maurice Murphy - long associated with the Hallé and Manchester. This three movement work has the jazzy virtuosic lightness of spirit of Bernstein yet with a dash of The Incredible Flutist by one of Pinkham’s teachers, Walter Piston. There's some Hindemith in the broth too. It's a mercurial work of freewheeling contrasts and with more than a dash of dissonance at the start of the final Allegro. Murphy's trumpet is by turns triumphant, querulous and confident. A tour de force of playing. 

The two symphonies are pretty compact for symphonies. The Third Symphony, in four sections, was premiered in Pinkham's native Massachusetts by the Plymouth Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Rudolf Schlegel on 8 February 1986. This is a sterner work than the Serenades although just as brilliant. A recurrent stutter from the orchestra sets up an expectation and a mentally supplied ostinato undertow which accounts for the work's success. The symphony is alive with incident and yelping brass as well as desolation and discontent. Clearly Pinkham also has another hallmark: scampering   and gambolling figures for the wind instruments. Time and again Sedares surprises you with the vivid attack and fantasy he brings to this music. 

The very short –in fact overture-length - Fourth Symphony was commissioned by the National Gallery of Art. It is in three movements, cleverly entitled Purling, Pining and Prancing. The Bernstein romping of Serenades can be heard in Purling (the motion of a river as it wends and swirls its way past rocks and other obstructions). Pining is more thoughtful than lamenting but it does provide a more emotional and humanely vulnerable character than the Third Symphony. Again Sedares whips an undeniable rip into this already often furious music. Pinkham is also very good at exuberant endings and this one ends with panache. 

Sonata Number Three is available in two versions - one for chamber orchestra and this one for strings. Rather like the slightly more melodious and less neo-classical Organ Concerto by Malcolm Arnold, this work has a windy intimate chiming Christmassy feel. There are also some delightfully inventive touches to tempt you back. A kindly Andante Dolente leads to a short and slightly reserved Vivace finale which yet again ends with real creativity and originality in a richly populated murmur. 

There you have it then. Two stern(ish) symphonies flanked by two entertaining but far from superficial concertante works. The liner-notes are by the  composer.

Rob Barnett


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