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Programme Notes: Chamber Music




Brass Quintet

The Quintet was written in 1994. It is in three movements, each of which seeks to evoke and exploit a different aspect of the brass instrumental tradition. Thus, in the first movement the music ranges from organum to polyphony to the stile concertato of the Venetian tradition and the Gabrielis; the second movement blends a chorale with romantic solo passages, and the third combines explosive fanfares with rhythmical games.

Slate Fanfare, for Slate Xylophone and Brass

Having come across a xylophone made from slate at the Llanberis Slate Museum, I couldn't resist the challenge of writing for it, and so on April 13th, 1999 I wrote the Slate Fanfare, Opus 120.

As well as the (unique?) slate xylophone, or 'Llechiffôn' there are two trombones and a tuba. The brass instruments provide a kind of evolving chorus or ritornello section, while the xylophone part, which is derived from a fragment of the Welsh National Anthem, also changes, becoming more and more challenging as the music progresses.

Voyage to Patagonia

Written for the Argentine-Welsh Guitar Duo in June 2009, this is a suite of six pieces which try to evoke the tension, excitement and nostalgia of the epic journeys made by many Welsh people to Patagonia in the nineteenth century. The flavour of the music hovers between Welsh and Patagonian (Argentinian), between anticipation (Cyn Gadael – Before Leaving) and hiraeth, or melancholy nostalgia (the Ffarwél pieces) before finally arriving at its destination (Rio Chubut – based on adaptations of two Patagonian-Welsh folksongs, one a kind of Tango, the other optimistically forward looking). The six movements are:

Cyn Gadael (Before Leaving)

Ar Lan y Môr (By the Side of the Sea)

Ffarwél i Dre' Caernarfon Lon (Farewell to Caernarfon)

Ffarwél i Aberystwyth (Farewell to Aberystwyth)

Hiraeth (Longing)

Rio Chubut (River Chubut)

Chica Latina  Opus 164

This work was written for the virtuosic Ni Ensemble, the prize-winning Luxembourg-based Brass Quintet who premiered the work in February, 2008, at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

A one movement work, it combines salsa and tango rhythms, often in disruptive five or seven beat bars with Mexican-flavoured trumpet fireworks, all of which is interrupted periodically by single and very loud trombone notes. Fun to hear, difficult to play!

April Snow  Opus 79

A snowy meditation for piano and glass crystal. The first performances were given in Paris in Autumn 1995

Mersch, Luxembourg, 29th March,1995

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