Treasure Trove: The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite

The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite is a delightful duet for clarinet accompanied by harp or piano which was composed in 1987 by Paul Reade (1943-1997).

I love the delicate, dainty sound of this piece, which seems to convey an indefinable sense of ‘Englishness’ and a gentle nostalgia no doubt perfectly suited to the television show it originally accompanied (which I’ve never seen).

Sage flowering in a garden.
Sage flowering in a garden.

Listen to The Victorian Kitchen Garden Suite

I initially discovered the final movement of the suite, ‘Summer’, on a compilation CD which I picked up for a couple of dollars in a second-hand shop, and the complete suite, which lasts for about ten minutes, was the first piece of classical music that I intentionally tracked down and purchased.

Reade originally composed the suite for a 1987 BBC Television series, ‘The Victorian Kitchen Garden’, in which a group of horticultural experts created a replica Victorian kitchen garden in Wiltshire, South West England. A repetiteur (‘vocal coach’, although the job of a repetiteur is more complex than that would imply) for the English National Opera, Reade worked on a number of BBC productions, including, with Tim Gibson, the theme for the well-known Antiques Roadshow, before turning to composition for ballet in the late ‘80s.


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