Vintage music from the veterans
Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer - live concert (1974) three audiocassettes Rs. 150 - Lalgudi Jayaraman and Srimathi Brahmanandam, violin duet, live concert 1967, four audio cassettes, Rs. 200 - Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami, live concert (1982), two cassettes Rs. 100 - Nedunuri Krishnamoorthy, live concert (1980), two cassettes Rs. 100 - D. K. Jayaraman, live concert, two cassettes Rs. 100 - M. L. Vasanthakumari, live concert, three cassettes, Rs. 150 - Sikkil Sisters, concert, one cassette Rs. 50 - Bombay sisters (C. Saroja - C. Lalitha) one cassette Rs. 50 - Produced in collaboration with Krishna Gana Sabha by Media Dreams Ltd, 7-A, Kences Towers, 1, Ramakrishna Street, Chennai - 600017.
THIS IS an old story from the classical music world of the 1930s. Musiri Subramanya Iyer had once gone to the Annamalai University as an external examiner for the music exams. During the afternoon interval he went to pay his respects to Tiger Varadachariar, the then professor in charge of the Music Department. After pleasantries, Tiger asked Musiri how the exams went and added ``I am giving you a test now. Sing `Yochana..."' Musiri sang the Durbar piece. Tiger asked him to do neraval for the Charanam, ``Kechana nija bhakta...'' Musiri folded his hands in a big namaskaram and pleaded helplessness (perhaps he wanted to hear Tiger do it himself). Tiger said he would show how that could be done. Followed an hour of great music, neraval and swara singing.
None knows how Tiger tackled the tough problem but one can get an idea of how it can be done if one listens to Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer doing neraval for the last charanam in Syama Sastri's Bhairavi Swarajati. This he did during a concert in the Krishna Gana Sabha in 1974. As we listen to the neraval, we are in a trance. The Krishna Gana Sabha has done a service in the cause of music by bringing out audiocassettes of this concert. It is a treasure for these who attended the unforgettable concert and for others, especially students, who can sharpen their skills on how to sing a varnam, and maintain the raga swaroopam fully while singing kritis. The Ragam, Tanam and Pallavi is in Sankarabharanam. The khamas in Dharmapuri Subbrayar Javali, should be an eye opener to those who have fallen into the Northern khamas trap of ``Brochevarura."
An even earlier concert, in 1967, of Lalgudi Jayaraman and his sister, Srimathi Brahmanandam, is also an example of great music. Heard from a distance it sounds like vocal, such is the measure of the quality of the music. The items covered include a varnam, ``Sri Mahaganapathi" (Gowla), the Lalgudi Pancharatnam, ragam, thanam and pallavi in Shanmukhapriya, Sama and Anandabhairavi, and ``Mokshamu Galada" (Saramathi).
There are two cassettes of a 1982 concert of Palghat K.V. Narayanaswami who lives up to his reputation as a great singer. Starting with the Begada varnam, he covers among others ``Andha Rama Soundaryam" (Kedaragowla, Arunachala Kavi), ``Seshachalanayakam" (Varali, Dikshitar) and ``Amba nannu" (Thodi-Anayya).
There are two cassettes of a concert by Nedunuri Krishnamoorthi. He provides enjoyable music but sometimes misses the point as in the charanam of ``Muripemu Kalige" (Mukhari). This song is a beautiful example of the way Tyagaraja fuses poetry and music. The slow moving charanam, used almost exclusively the panchamam, comes like the gentle breeze that wafts across the Cauvery banks. Nedunuri misses this but Lalgudi Jayaraman as the violin accompanist captures it brilliantly.
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