Identity forms both the background and formal shape of this work for saxophone quartet, Caneuon Cymru
(Songs of Wales). Its basic thematic material is taken from Welsh folk songs drawn from a generic collection of the same title. Falling into a tripartite structure, the work’s underlying material is gradually revealed in the final section. The work calls for both the soprano and alto saxophones to double on alto and tenor saxophones respectively (there is also a second version that requires all four player to double on other saxophones). The composer has spoken of the music as 'exploring' his Welshness and the underlying contradictions that such a label currently suggests for him. Born in Essex, but spending his childhood and teenage years in the Welsh border town, Monmouth, before undertaking formal music studies in the Principality’s capital, Petrie now lives and works in London. Without the outward archetypal 'trappings' of Welshness, where does he now stand in relation to such questions of national identity and, indeed, is it even relevant? What is the nature of his (and others) inclusion in a disc of 'Welsh music'? Caneuon Cymru
does not seek to answer such questions and, still less, to present its underlying thematic material in a self-consciously Welsh guise, and therein lies the basic question that the music poses. Caneuon Cymru
was commissioned by the LSQ and was first heard at a concert given at Lampeter University on 9 November 2010.
from notes by Peter Reynolds © 2010