berceuse for filip and phlore


Surendran Reddy Performing Edition

This riotously irreverent work from 2007 is subtitled ‘diabolical variations’, and indeed it is diabolically difficult if not impossible to play. The piece is a set of variations on several themes, including ‘When I Fall in Love’ by Victor Young, the Xhosa folksong ‘Qongqothwane’ (The Click Song), Chopin’s Berceuse op. 57, ‘Cruising Down the River on a Sunday Afternoon’ by Eily Beadell and Nell Tollerton, the Zulu lullaby ‘Thula Baba, Thula Sona’ (Hush Little Man, Hush Baby), and ‘Torna a Sorrento’ (Come Back to Sorrento) by Ernesto de Curtis. After ‘The Click Song’ first appears in C and E-flat, Reddy writes, ‘thru all 12 keys with melodic motive’, a comment that could just as well be interpreted as directions to the performer to improvise as it could be a note to self to compose more. In bar 176, Reddy begins some ‘diabolical variations in the form of a sudoku après chopin’s berceuse’: 14 short variations, each named after a family member or friend. Variation 14 is prefaced, ‘2nd subject + rondo finale’, suggesting that he imagined the overall structure of the berceuse as sonata form morphed with sonata structure as a whole. After this variation comes a short ‘mbaqanga’ (South African township jazz style) section, and after several hundred more bars of virtuoso variations the piece begins to break up. It ends inconclusively, with empty bars. The instructions to the pianist after the last bar read, ‘add when i fall in love in canon at the fourth’.

There are no dynamics, but plenty of expression, tempi, and metronome marks all the way through. The last version Reddy made of the work has been reformatted by ACE, but because Reddy’s annotated notation is so far out, and says so much about who he was, his own last print-out prior to that has been included at the end, for reference. Flore Wiener and Philipp Eden, (‘filip + phlore’) were two young friends of Reddy and are his main dedicatees, along with his parents, and other ‘leitung hochspannung’ (high voltage lines).


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