suite no. 1 in c major (from six baroque suites)
A virtuoso pianist and harpsichordist, Reddy studied early music performance practice at the Royal College of Music and King’s College London as a teenager, and on his return to South Africa in 1983 he wrote a set of ‘baroque suites’ for piano between 1983 and 1985. suite no. 1 captures early 18th-century keyboard style in a contemporary idiom with what the composer calls an ‘almost childlike naiveté’. It has seven very short dances or movements: Prelude-Allemande-Courante-Minuet-Sarabande-Gigue-Chorale. The manuscript of suite no. 1 in c major, which is dedicated to his mother, Leela Reddy, is dated December 1983, the end of the composer’s first year of employment as a Lecturer at the University of Durban-Westville. His preface to the whole set, written later, explains how he conceived it, and he thought of it as important enough in his oeuvre to typeset the six suites in Sibelius in 2006, printing them out and binding them with front covers drawn from William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience. A reproduction of the original facsimile of the 1st edition of the Blake is held in the British Library, London, and it is clear how Reddy’s emotional journey from naiveté’ in suite no. 1 to resignation at the end of suite no. 6 mirrors Blake’s poetry and illustrations. A less obvious source of inspiration in suite no. 1 is Schumann, whose Album for the Young ends with a chorale, entitled ‘The Poet Speaks’.
The recording of the complete suite below was made during a concert at the University of Durban-Westville in 1984. The recordings of each dance separately, below that, were made in Reddy’s home in Reservoir Hills, Durban and the pieces are more elaborately ornamented.