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Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Doyen at Parvathi - Vid. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, 1978


Excerpts from the Doyen's Concert

1978 Sri Ramanavami Concert
Vid. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer - Vocal
Vid. T. Rukmini - Violin
Vid. Tanjore Upendran - Mridangam
Vid. Ramachar - Khanjira


Vidwan Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer strode the Carnatic scene for about 80 years as a colossus with his hugely charismatic and energetic vocal style that earned him the Sangeetha Kalanidhi when he was just 39. He had musical lineage and shone brightly as a torch-bearer for an energetic Carnatic music style that perhaps dominated the minds of students of Carnatic music who subsequently rose to become stars. His legion of Bhaktas included great singers like Vid. MSS herself, and instrumentalists like Vid. T.N. Krishnan and Vid. Vellore Ramabhadran and so on. Vid. Semmangudi also gave us his unforgettable musical creations through tuning a major portion of King Swathi Thirunal's compositions. The music and sahitya that came together in the final body of work made Swathi Thirunal a unique composer in Carnatic music.  

The home of Parvathi played host to the doyen many times. We have managed to retrieve for the Finale excerpts from his concert in 1978. He is ably assisted by Vid. T. Rukmini and Vid. Tanjore Upendran and Vid. Ramachar. The musical value of these excerpts is immense as it celebrates the coming together of two great personalities in Carnatic music - Vid. Semmangudi and Sri. K. Srikantiah.

Details (Parvathi Sri Ramanavami festival, 21.4.1978)

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer – Vocal
T.Rukmini - Violin
Tanjore Upendran – Mridangam
H.P. Ramachar - Khanjira

Song List in the Excerpts

01. Enduku Nirdaya - Hari Kambhoji - Thyagaraja *** 02.     Nannu Kanna Talli - Sindhu Kannada - Thyagaraja *** 03. Ksheenamai - Mukhari - Thyagaraja *** 04. Ramachandrena Samrakshitoham - Manji - Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 05. Rama Jogi - Khamach - Bhadrachala Ramadas 06. Shloka Ragamalika - Kharaharapriya, Varali, Bilahari, Saveri, Keeravani, Kapi ***. 07. Parulannamata - Javali - Kapi *** 08. Sapashyat Kausalya - Jaunpuri - Panchapakesha Shastri

Saturday, July 8, 2023

The strings that resound in heaven - Vid. Chitti Babu - Veena Excerpts

Parvathi Finale


Vid. Chitti Babu - Sri Ramanavami at Parvathi - 1982 - Concert Excerpts




In heaven, there is said to be music always. Remember that the gods are blessed to listen to the greatest of musicians. If I imagine what music from here would hold even the gods in thrall, it would be the Veena music of Vid. Chitti Babu. Unlike the modern sounds of Veena, which mimic an electric guitar, his Veena resonated with a strange charm of pure, golden, metallic and acoustic vibrational soundscape. It was rich, melodious and invigorating. 

Yajnavalkya says,
वीणावादनतत्वज्ञः श्रुतिजातिविशारदः तालज्ञः अप्रयासेन मोक्षमार्गं नियच्छति
"The expert Vainika who knows ragas and talas well attain the path to liberation easily."

Vid. Chitti Babu arrived with his heavenly Veena music on the Mysore scene in the sixties. He enthralled audiences and even won the honour of getting the royal medallion. 

In this 1982 concert, he was accompanied by Vid. Palghat Raghu and Vid. Manjunath. Unfortunately, we could not retrieve the entire concert recording but only an excerpt of his Tanam and the Javali that followed. The Tanam is a bouquet of ragas which simply steal our hearts with their melody. The instrumental technique is something extraordinary by any standard. The purity of sound and the resonance of the plucking endorse the idea that Tanam was created only for the Veena!

The ragas are Shubhapantuvarali...
                                       Madhuvanti...
                                               Ranjani...
                                                      Revati...
                                                           Behag...
                                                                Kanada...
                                                                       Kapi...
Followed by the delectable Javali in Kapi, "Sarasamulade" by Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar.

Then comes a Tillana in Tilang... 

While listening to all these ragas pouring out, one thought of Kalidasa's Shyamaladandakam. He begins by saying how the Devi holds the Manikya Veena tenderly. He mentions how she holds the Veena called Vallaki and thoroughly enjoys its music. This comes again and again. And finally, he says she is being regaled by the celestials-
श्रवणहरदक्षिणक्वीणया वीणया किन्नरैर्गीयासे "You are being praised by Kinnaras accompanied expertly on the Veena that steals ears and hearts"... Did Kalidasa hear Vid. Chitti Babu?

Concert Details

Chitti Babu - Veena
Palghat Raghu - Mridangam
Manjunath - Ghatam
Sri Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi, Mysore held on 4 April 1982.

Chitti Babu = Veena Palghat Raghu - Mridangam Manjunath - Ghatam Date 4 April 1982








Sunday, June 4, 2023

Finding the Inner Calm through Music



Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar - 2014 Putturao Memorial Concert

Dr. Sukanya Prabhakar is a well-known musician and teacher as well as an acclaimed researcher in Carnatic music. She hails from Mysore and comes from a family of musicians. She did research on Sri Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar krithis as well as musical instruments collected in the Mysore Palace many many years ago. She studied under maestros Vid. Ramaratnam and Vid. Gowri Kuppuswamy. She has been running her own music school as well as a publication under the name Surabhi. She is ably assisted by her daughter Dr. Sumana Vedanth in this concert. With doyens from Mysore on accompaniment - Sri.H.K. Narasimha Murthy on the violin and Sri G.S. Ramanujam on the mridangam as well as Sri Ramesh on Morsing, she presents here a consummate concert in characteristic style with palpable depth.

What characterises great Carnatic music? This is a debatable subject. But all our esteemed composers opine that really great music leads one to inner calm. If that is missing, music could well become a circus. 

Here, the Vidushi espouses this idea with choice songs, all presented in a sedate style, lacking nothing in Vidwat or musical appeal. Sonorous voices of the mother and daughter take turns in alapana and swaras and give us a wholesome fare.

The idea of inner calm is expressed beautifully by Saint Gopala Dasa in his song "ಏನು ಸುಖವೊ ಎಂಥಾ ಸುಖವೊ ಹರಿಯಧ್ಯಾನವ ಮಾಡುವರ ಸಂಗ", sung in Brindavani here. 

In this concert, there are wonderful compositions presented of famous composers in scintillating ragas. Two Kannada songs, one of them a Vachana, and a rarely heard Shanmukhapriya composition of Mysore Vasudevacharya, point to the Vidushi's expansive repertoire.

Concert Details
Sri K. Putturao Memorial Concert 2014 - jagan Mohan Palace, Mysore.
Sukanya Prabhakar - Vocal
Sumana Vedanth - Vocal Support
H.K. Narasimhamurthy - Violin
G.S. Ramanujam - Violin
Ramesh - Morsing
Date 2 September 2014

Song List
1. Shloka (Padma Purana) & Song-Neranammiti – Kanada Varnam – Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar
2. Sri Mahaganapathe – Nata – Mayuram Vishwanatha Shastry
3. Sabhapatiki – Abhogi – Gopalakrishna Bharathi
4. Sri Ranganayakam- Nayaki – Muthuswami Dikshitar
5. Enu Sukhav0 – Brindavani – Gopaladasa
6. Manamuto – Shanmukhapriya – Vasudevachar
7. Enage Bhoga Bhagya Beda – Durga –Muppina Shadakshari
8. Tam Tam Tam   - Khamach  Thillana -  Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer
9. Mangalam - Saint Thyagaraja



Tuesday, April 18, 2023

The Charm of Good Music



VID. MAHARAJAPURAM SANTHANAM - 1982 RAMANAVAMI CONCERT


The season of Ramanavami concerts is here. Also hot weather, mangoes and nowadays, IPL. In the midst of all this, come and savour some delectable music from three superstars of Carnatic Music together - Maharajapuram, Lalgudi and Vellore. For those born after 1950, and who developed a taste for Carnatic music by their good fortune in the 60s-80s, these three names mean Vid. Santhanam, Vid. Jayaraman, and Vid. Ramabhadran!


MAHARAJAPURAM SANTHANAM (1928-1992)



What do we look for in a good Carnatic concert? Melody. Great songs. A team dynamic that makes each artiste build on others' music. A mood once born that lingers in our minds and hearts for long. Happy moments. A sense of devotion. All that is in plenty here. 

Lalgudi offers very creative responses to the tuneful vocal phrases, eliciting much appreciation. They both build up wonderful alapanas, niravals and swara exchanges. The audience response is vigorous. The mridangam strokes of Vellore Ramabhadran, as always, are like the cornerstones of an edifice - beautiful, sharp, strong and well-laid.

The song of Swathi Thirunal in Huseni needs special mention. Rarely heard, it showcases the composer-king's penchant for well-worded Sanskrit prayers to the Lord. 

रागः हुसेनी तालः आदि

पल्लवी
श्रीरामचन्द्र! परिलस मम हृदि पारावारगम्भीर! श्रीराम !
- Dear Sri Rama! Please come and sport in my heart, Oh Lord as deep as the ocean!
अनुपल्लवी
करशोभितखरभेदनकरकार्मुक  करुणारसराजितनयन!
-Your hand is adorned by the mighty bow that vanquished Khara, your eyes are shining with compassion!
चरणम्
जानकीहृदयमॊहनविलसित! अम्बुजनाभ विभॊ! 
- You are charmingly adorning Devi Sita's heart! Oh Lord of the lotus navel!
भानुकुलज! दशवदननिशूदन! वानरादिपरिवॆष्टित! पावन!
- Oh, Scion of the Solar Dynasty! The destroyer of the ten-headed Ravana! Oh, Lord surrounded by Vanaras and others in your army! Oh, Lord who purifies and saves devotees!

***

CONCERT DETAILS

Sri Ramanavami Festival, Parvathi, Mysore

Maharajapuram Santhanam - Vocal (accompanied by son)
Lalgudi Jayaraman - Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran - Mridangam

Date 6 April 1982

Song List

01. Dudukugala - Gaula Pancharatna - Thyagaraja
02. Seethamma Mayamma - vasantha - Thyagaraja
03. Toli Janma - Bilahari - Thyagaraja
04. Ardhanareeshwaram - Kumudakriya - Dikshitar
05. Samajavaragama - Hindola - Thyagaraja
06. Sri Rama Parllasa mama Hridi - Huseni - Swathi Thirunal
07. Etavunnara - Kalyani - Thyagaraja
08. Govinda - Janasammodini - Purandaradasa
09. Shloka - Ragamalika (Brindavansaranga, Mohana, Basant Bahar)
10. Basant Bahar Thillana - Maharajapuram Santhanam




Friday, March 10, 2023

His music is eternal

 Mandolin Shrinivas ((28 February 1969 – 19 September 2014)



The one and only Mandolin phenomenon, U.Shrinivas, was given the honour to perform at the Parvathi Silver Jubilee in 1994. Famous music personalities as well as cinestars  Vishnuvardhan and Ambareesh graced the occasion. The details are seen below.



When Shrinivas left us suddenly in 2014, the home of Parvathi was plunged into grief. A tribute was posted at that time, which is reproduced below.

***
A Tribute by Mysore Prabha

“U. Srinivas passed away” was the breaking news on TV. It was heart-breaking news for us.

Though Lalgudi Krishnan had already given us the shocking news, my mind just refused to accept the fact. How could this happen? Though we knew that he was ailing, we never doubted his recovery. But fate snatched U. Srinivas away from amidst us. To put it in renowned novelist and writer R. K. Narayan’s words, “He jumped the queue”. U. Srinivas has moved on to another world, leaving behind his prodigious, melodious, soul-stirring music for us to enjoy.

There is probably no other musician from India who attained national and international acclaim at such young age as U. Srinivas did. He was recognized as a child-prodigy when he started performing at a very young age of 8-10 years. He continued to be a prodigy even in his 40s, because, no other musician produced such wonderful music on the mandolin (the supposedly ill-suited instrument for carnatic classical music) like Srinivas did. It is to Srinivas’ credit that he has greatly popularized Indian music in western countries. He was always a crowd puller whenever and wherever he performed-in India or abroad. His music always pleased the connoisseur and the layman alike.

My family’s association with U. Srinivas dates back to 1984. It was on 10.4.84 that Srinivas first visited our home,”Parvathi”, in Mysore, to perform during the annual Ramanavami music festival conducted by my father, K. Srikantiah. He was a small-built lad and I remember the shy boy sitting on the carpet with his mandolin next to him, gazing and touching his mandolin continuously, as if afraid someone would snatch it away from him. He had no eyes for anything or anyone else and spoke only in monosyllables. The pandal next to our house and the roads surrounding it were jam-packed with music lovers waiting to listen to the highly acclaimed child prodigy. The little boy timidly got onto the stage – and then! The audience was transported to a heavenly world of music emanating from his magical fingers! Starting then, he gave about 8 to 10 concerts for us spread over two and a half decades. Surprisingly, despite all his name, fame and glory, he was still the same, child-like, humble Srinivas when he performed for our K. Puttu Rao music festival (Inaugural concert) in 2011. Little did we know that it would be his last concert for us, and also in Mysore. It was our privilege to honour Srinivas during our Silver Jubilee year Ramanavami festival in 1994. It warmed our hearts when Srinivas said in his speech that he considered himself one in our family.

U. Srinivas has left us after leading a highly worthy life in his short life span. He has achieved in about three decades what probably would take three births for others to achieve. The country and the Carnatic music world have lost one of its rarest gems. The Indian music world will forever be proud of its prodigious son- Mandolin Srinivas. There cannot be another Mandolin Srinivas.

My family and I pray that Lord Rama blesses Srinivas’ soul with eternal peace.

***

We are glad to share that Silver Jubilee concert recording here with rasikas.




Concert Details

U. Shrinivas - Mandolin
Mysore Nagaraj - Violin
T.K. Murthy - Mridangam
M.A. Krishnamurthy - Ghatam
Date: 20 April 1994

Song List
  1. Varnam - Todi -
  2. Vatapiganapathim - Hamsadhwani - Dikshitar
  3. Endaro mahanubhavulu - SriRaga Pancharatna - Thyagaraja
  4. Natajana Paripalana - Simhendramadhyamam - Thyagaraja
  5. Sadamadini - Gambhiravani - Thyagaraja
  6. Mohana Rama - Mohanam - Thyagaraja
  7. Tani - T.K. Murthy, M.A. krishnamurthy
  8. Tunga Teera - Yamuna Kalyani - Kamalesha Vitthala
  9. Venkatachalanilayam - Sindhu Bhairavi - Purandaradasa
  10. Karpagame - Madhyamavati - Papanasam Sivan
  11. Brindavani Thillana - Lalgudi Jayaraman
  12. Mangalam
***

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Amara - Madhura - Sundara : Timeless Gems from Somu


Vid. Madurai Somasundaram - Gems from many Parvathi Concerts






Spring is in the air. The Parvathi Ramanavami Pandal is all set up. The deities are shining in their full glory surrounded by garlands and a shower of Parijata flowers. The hall is full of eager rasikas. And who is going to sing today? Of course, Vid. Madurai Somu!

Imagine this scene which was repeated year after year in the heritage home. Students came for the April concerts unmindful of their exam schedules. The Mysore Police were happy to regulate the traffic and allow the concert to go on far into the night. The best of accompanists exerted themselves to match the maestro in his energetic Manodharma, on-the-spot improvisations, audience-regaling antics, endless repertoire, niravals and swaras that took your breath away, and the constant spirit of "let's sing better, let's actualize Rama, Devi, Shanmukha or whichever deity we want right here, right now!"

This timeless experience is being presented in our Finale with selections from many concerts spread over many years. Lalgudi, Chalakudi, MC and... on the violin. Raghu, Dorai,... on the mridangam. The best of ghatam and khanjira accompaniment too. What more can you ask for?

The major ragas in this upload? A Kalyani to bring Devi dancing. A Kharaharapriya to make Sri Rama smile from his Mandapa. A series of songs that will make Shanmukha's peacock dance!

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Free Spirit called MLV



Dr. M.L. Vasanthakumari (1928-1990)


The music lovers of the home called Parvathi, and the large audiences that enjoyed the concerts conducted there for many decades, simply loved the music of Dr M.L.Vasanthakumari or MLV as she is famous. 

Take any aspect of Carnatic music, MLV was great. A true all-rounder, no less. Endowed with a vibrant and pliant voice and trained by the best in the classical field, she also inherited a great interest in Dasara Padas. More than anything else, she was a soaring free spirit in creativity. This sums up MLV. 

Today, we see a plethora of lady stars in Carnatic music. Many have doctorates. many specialise in singing a variety of music formats. Each has carved a niche. But we can't think of anyone in our midst that can be compared to that original free spirit among lady singers - MLV.

In those times, there was the famous trinity - MSS, DKP and MLV. Much younger than the other two, MLV made a mark in every concert for her creativity and free exploration of manodharma elements. She was equally at home rendering an RTP or singing any type of krithi in any language. When someone talks of MLV and her greatness, we need not search for explanations of who backed her or how she came up. It was sheer talent that struck you from the word go.

In this concert, there are two outstanding raga delineations - Mohanam and Bhairavi. The Bhairavi RTP is one for the archives. And the violinist, Dr Kanyakumari, shines brilliantly with her accompanying phrases, her solo pieces, and the heroic way she wields her bow.

The concert has a large number of songs on offer in many languages and many moods.

The very famous Purandara Dasa krithi Jaya Jaya Jaya Janakikantha comes as the second song. We feel we should spend a little time appreciating the words.

(Copied from the compilation by Dr. Aralumallige Parthasarathy)

Those who have read the Valmiki epic know how Sage Narada introduces the personality of Sri Rama to Sage Valmiki. The short version of Ramayana he tells Valmiki forms an important part of the Ramayana tradition. Similarly, Saint Purandara Dasa has covered every aspect of Sri Rama's story in this krithi.

"The beloved of Sita, the succour of the pure and humble souls, Sri Rama is the great hero of our Dharma. He is the dutiful son of Dasharatha, the hero who vanquished the ten-headed Ravana! A dear friend of Lord Shiva, Sri Rama was the embodiment of purity in conduct. Handsome like Manmatha, expert in diplomacy and astuteness, Sri Rama was incomparable in valour! Lover of the best of music (Sama Gana), devoted to caring for the good souls on earth, Sri Rama fulfils our every true wish and reminds us of the magnificent ocean by his serene demeanour. He, as the incarnation of Bhagavan, is the subject of all scriptures. Sri Rama grants the worthy souls liberation!"

Come, let us enjoy this wonderful vintage classic of an MLV concert!


Concert Details
Ramanavami 1979.
M.L. Vasanthakumari - Vocal
A. Kanyakumari - Violin
Tanjore Krishnamurthy Rao - Mridangam
? - Khanjira
Date 15 April 1979

Song List

01_Namami Vighnavinayaka - Hamsadhwani - Krishnaswamy Ayya
02_Jaya Jaya Janakikantha- Nata - Purandara Dasa
03_Enta Ranee - Harikambhoji - Thyagaraja
04_Entani vinnavintura - Urmika - Pallavi Sesha Aiyyar
05_Rama ninnu nammina-Mohanam- Thyagaraja
06_Sridhara pahi Dayakara Vedasugochara 
Giridhara- Jayanthashri - Mysore Vasudevacharya
07_Bhairavi Ragam Tanam Pallavi (Tanam in Pancha Ghana Ragas)
08_Uga Bhoga - Shivaranjani- Purandara Dasa
09_Yamanelli Kananendu - Shivaranjani - Purandara Dasa
10_Sancharadadhara-Ragamalika
(Mohanam,Gavati,Yamuna Kalyani, Sindhu Bhairavi)Ashtapadhi- Jayadeva 
11_Sharanu Ninage - Pahadi and other ragas- Purandara Dasa
14_Jagadoddharana - Kapi - Purandara Dasa
15_Mohana Kalyani Thillana - Lalgudi Jayaraman