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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Thyagaraja’s Ecstasy of Devotion

Vid. K.V. Narayanaswamy, 1978 Ramanavami

An appreciation from R. Sachi

During this Ramanavami season, it is our great pleasure to share with rasikas a fine concert by the Sangita Kalanidhi Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy. KVN, as he is affectionately called, is an eternal favourite of Carnatic music lovers around the world. As the most famous Shishya of the most famous legend in CM, Sangitakala Shikhamani Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, KVN is the torchbearer of a truly classical tradition that gives deeply enriching, aesthetic and devotional, experience to every listener. KVN had perfected his art to maximise the lasting beauty of classicism, eschewing all dramatics and frills. He came across in person as someone who lived this spirit 24/7 as they say these days.

This concert also features the famous combination of KVN and Raghu. This combo is as proverbial as the famous Ariyakudi-Palghat Mani combo. Other examples are MSS-TK Murthy and Ravi Shankar-Alla Rakha. Indian classical music places great emphasis on rhythm or tala (Srutirmaata layah pitaa). So when such a great combination of a lead performer and percussionist clicks, we get decades of great musical excellence, based on a musical rapport at the gut level. This is a bonus in this concert too.

KVN and Raghu collaborated and taught together at a US university during the ‘60s. Here is the disc cover of their famous LP, brought out with an introduction to South Indian music:

Coming to this concert, it is full of rich melody and song repertoire. Spanning major ragas eg. Shankarabharana, Kharaharapriya, Mohana, and Todi (a rare Tillana), KVN delivers his trademark raga alapanas, neraval and swaras in a succinct manner. The shlokas and the Kannada padas are suffused with devotional fervour. Talking of which, the famous krithi Nanu Palimpa, expressing Thyagaraja’s ecstasy of devotion, is rendered with a lot of verve. This krithi is reported to have been composed by the saint on beholding a beautiful painting of Sri Rama, painted by one of the Walajapet disciples Pallavi Ellayyar and carried on foot over a long distance to be presented to the saint. The meaning of this song as given in The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja is reproduced below:


Oh Lord of my Life! Have you come walking all the way to bless me,knowing fully the unexpressed secret longing of my heart, that to have a vision of your lotus-eyed face is the sole purpose of my life! You have been gracious enough to appear before me with a body resplendently blue colored, adorned in the chest with strings of pearls, with shining bow, and arrows in hand and accompanied by Sita.

We therefore feel blessed to be able to share this concert with Rasikas.

Concert Details:

K.V.Narayanaswamy ------- vocal
T.S. Veeraraghavan ------- Violin
Palghat Raghu ----- Mridangam
K.S.Manjunath ---- Ghatam
on 24 -4-1978 during Ramanavami Festival at "Parvathi", Mysore.

Song List

01 Bhaktibhiksha-Shankarabharana- Thyagaraja *** 02 Kharaharapriya Raga *** 03 Pakkala nilabadi-Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja *** 04 Rangapuravihara- Brindavana saranga- Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 05 Nanu Palimpa-Mohana- Thyagaraja *** 06 Shlokas – Khamach, Mayamalavagowla, Behag, Sindhubhairavi *** 07 Harihara ninnanu- Sindhubhairavi – Purandaradasa *** 08 Kandu dhanyanade- Behag- Kamalesha Dasa *** 09 Tillana –Todi –Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar *** 10 Mangalam***