For Heike on Valentine’s Day

Surendran Reddy and Heike Asmuss in Konstanz October 2008

à la recherche de la paix et de la liberté is a trio by Surendran Reddy for clarinet, voice and piano (1993), dedicated to his long-time, devoted partner, Heike Asmuss, and rededicated to her now in his memory and with love. In this piece, Reddy arranges several well-known South African tunes including ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’, as well as Oscar Peterson’s ‘Hymn to Freedom’. The trio can be performed by both jazz and classical musicians and was originally published by SAMRO. In his Composer’s Notes for the Performer written in 1993, Reddy explains the work’s ‘spontaneous creation’:

“Essentially à la recherche de la paix et de la liberté is a written-out improvisation. The title is neither an indication that I am a Francophile nor a political ideologue, but is rather a reference to Proust. The analogy is in the ‘stream of consciousness’-flow characteristic of this ‘Afro-jazz’ medley. In order to preserve the spontaneity of jazz in this composition, I first played a whole lot of music into C-Lab (a notating and sequencing computer program) and then laboriously edited the printouts to get the final result. It is therefore quite crucial that in performance the element of ‘spontaneity’ is preserved. Each line – indeed, each note – should be shaped and represented with maximum intensity, as though it is emerging fresh from the creative forge at the very moment of performance.”

The work is heavily indebted to Reddy’s earlier suite freedom, and although there is no recording of him playing à la recherche there is a Youtube video of suite freedom that gives a good idea of how he imagined à la recherche being played. There is a performance of à la recherche played at a memorial concert after Reddy’s death in 2010, by Jill Richards (piano), who played in the original performance in Moscow in 1993, Lizet Smith (clarinet) and Ignatia Madalane (voice).

The ACE score has been typeset from Reddy’s original pencilled drafts and from the SAMRO score.