Vocal: Smt.Sumithra Nitin
Mrudangam: Sri J.Vaidhyanathan
Ghatam: Sri S.V.Ramani
Composer of songs: ‘Arasi’ Smt.Rajee Krishnan
Recording Company: Rajalakshmi Audio
Price of Album: Rs.195/-
‘Classical’ and ‘Comforting’ would be the two best words that can be used to describe the album ‘Arasi-Compositions of Smt.Rajee Krishnan’ released by Rajalakshmi Audio. Smt.Rajee Krishnan has astounded listeners through an accomplished and potent vehicle, Smt.Sumithra Nitin. Her voice is indeed a pleasant blend of power, range, fluency and melody as mentioned by Smt.Sulochana Pattabhiraman, in one of her reviews. Smt.Rajee’s compositions are gems, unearthed fresh and very much suitable for the modern rasika, who desires acuity as well as orthodoxy.
The opening song ‘nAdi vandEn’ in raga gambhIra nAttai and tAlam Adi is indeed grandiose. A short alapana by the singer quickly reminds the listeners of the raga. The opening pallavi line majestically ascends to the upper shadjam, thereby bringing the noticeable traces of the raga and conveying the composer’s message of seeking the Lord. The composer’s humility is conveyed when the line ‘unnai’ descends back to the lower shadjam. This stresses the composer’s message as well as explores the scale of the raga, giving listeners ultimate satisfaction and understanding. Also, in the anupallavi, for the line ‘alavillA gambhIramudai nin’, the ‘gambhIram’ is showed with the help of the standard ascending ‘gmpn’ phrase. Also, a silent swaraksharam is inserted in this phrase as the sahityam is ‘gambhIram’ and the swaras are ‘gmpn’. Smt.Sumithra has given her best throughout the album, with no exception in this piece. She has incorporated the fine nuances of the composition sensibly. This song will be a ready refresher and the concert platform will look much better if ‘vAthApi ganapathim’ is replaced with a song like this one.
The next song ‘kadiravan mennoLi’ in raga bowli and tAlam Adi is a poetic masterpiece. The lyrics are especially moving. The composer has written her perception of God from nature, describing the rays of the sun as his sweet smile. The use of ‘kadiravan’ or Sun is apt and brilliant as the raga bowli is a morning raga. This song is so poignant and lucid that even a blind person will be able to visualize God easily! The plea of the composer to the Almighty is plainly audible through the phrase ‘enakkarulvAyO paramA’ where another swaraksharam is inserted neatly in this ascent. The madhyamakala passage has been composed agreeably. Fast phrases in compositions are not common in this raga and this idea of the composer must be appreciated. Overall, bowli has been handled differently, and it bears no resemblance to the standard ‘ElukO’ or ‘srIman nArayanA’ or ‘brahmam okatE’. This shows the originality of the composer and her imagination. Smt.Sumithra has captured the composer’s emotions correctly through her commanding voice.
The subsequent short viruttam by Smt.Sumithra in raga AbhOgi is a bit confusing as it gives shades of shivaranjani initially but slowly blends to give AbhOgI. The composition ‘rAmA nI pAdhamu’ in tAlam Adi is a marvel. A smart swaraksharam in the phrase ‘dhanyulu’ is striking and poise. The telugu lines are easily comprehensible. This composition precisely covers the scope of AbhOgI and pleases the mind, with its leisurely sangathis interspersed with devotion. The sangathis in the pallavi and charanam are adequate and the raga bhava has been brought out sincerely by the singer and her crew.
The next piece, ‘cholla cholla iniththidumE’ is preceded by a brief alapana in the raga wherein the singer and the violinist have given the essence of the beautiful prathi madhyama raga ‘vAchaspathi’. This is the only alapana by the singer and the violinist in the whole album. It would have been better if some more AlApanas or a neraval/kalpanaswaram section had been included in the album so that listeners would get an idea about the artiste’s manOdharmA and the scope of the compositions. This delightful composition on Lord Narayana, the Almightly will make listeners say ‘kEtka kEtka inikkiradE’ (this song is so sweet to listen!). Owing to the inherent intelligence of the composer, it would have been sweeter if some more sangathis had been included in the pallavi, as this raga offers a lot of scope and is largely unexplored by many past composers. The unambiguous and long phrase ‘pOmO’ in the line ‘vallamai kURiDavum pOmO?’ offers joy to the listeners and this style of composing is quite unique. This was noticeable in many compositions. This composition was also unique and the singer has presented it just the way the composer would have desired.
‘vEngadavA’ in raga sAmA and tAlam Adi is a stable source of succinct solace. This composition is just too fantastic to describe in words. It will be a sure favourite among rasikas, if they get the opportunity to listen to this lovely composition. The lazy pallavi lures the listener, taking him/her to the composer’s world, where she prays to the greatest God Sri Venkateswara of Tirumala. The anupallavi and charanam have also been composed in a languid and serene tone. The whole composition comprises of alliterations like ‘vEngadavA-vEndinEn’, ‘andiyavar-annalE’, ‘kandadum kaliyUrum’, etc. The charanam has ‘ma’ as the alliteration base and the composer has also utilized a swaraksharam – the madhyamam which coincides with ‘malaiyAi’, the starting word of the charanam. The composer’s bilateral thinking skills are evident from this piece. The whole song is admirable and inspirational. The second sangathi of the charanam is again a marvelous piece of work. Specifications cannot be given, to this rare composition in such a suitable raga. The lyrics and raga have just blended together to make a bond, which is only God given.
The next composition, ‘nAtyamAdO natarAja’ in raga pUrvikalyAnI and tAlam Adi is a forte. The composer’s skills have been squeezed out through this energizing composition in kannada. A listener can never listen to this composition just once. Such is the effect it has on listeners. Everything in this composition is something to wonder at! The ‘ma da’ swaraksharam in the pallavi, the higher scale-anupallavi, the ‘tadIngiNatOm tOm tOm’ jathi that is inserted sleekly, the author’s child-play with kannada words, the entire structure of the composition extracting pUrvikalyAni to its maximum potential… Many more factors can be added. The piece was very catchy. It will be very apposite for a filler in between the main song and the pre-main song. It will also be suitable for dance performances. The pace of the composition is its strength and Smt.Sumithra has presented it warmly, pleasing listeners and delivering the message of the composer agreeably.
‘mayilEri’ in the romantic raga chArukEsi set to misra chApu talam is a dedication to Lord Muruga. The short alapana with percussion accompaniment sung by the singer is peaceful. The slow composition relieves one of all stress and worries. This composition will outshine other compositions if sung in a concert, or performed in a dance recital. The deep emotions and prayers of the composer have been magnified with the help of chArukEsi raga. The pallavi starts with the standard phrase of chArukEsi which is the ‘pa da ni da pa’ phrase which distinguishes chArukEsi from other common ragas. The sangathis are particularly outstanding. Even in the pallavi of this song, one can never fail to notice the humility and faith of the composer. She uses the ascending phrase from ‘pa da ni sa…’ for the sahityam ‘mayilEri’ as if to signify the Lord ascending on his peacock majestically. While the sahityam ‘varuvAi murugA’ is sung, the swaras are descending and stagnate at the lower shadjam and the subsequent swaras (srgrg,,) as if to signify the composer is requesting/humbly calling the Lord with affection and anticipation. In the charanam, the beautiful bridging between the end of the charanam and the pallavi is just amazing. In the sahityam ‘vadi vElA varuvAi arul taruvAi “un”’, the word “un” links the charanam and pallavi in a fine manner. This style is noticeable in other compositions also but the bridging in this particular composition was attractive and unassuming.
The next composition ‘srI lakshmi varadhAyikE’ is set to the serious simhEndramadhyamam raga and rUpaka talam. This composition is an undoubted candidate for the main piece of a concert. The sangathis, the capturing of the raga bhava and apt places for neraval and kalpanaswaram throughout the piece make it suitable. The composer has given confidence to the performers by setting the song to rUpaka talam. The first line of the pallavi is enough to get the grace of Goddess Lakshmi through the sublime simhEndramadhyamam. The absolutely awesome anupallavi has hidden swaraksharas. The alliterated anupallavi is a pleasure. The madhyamakala sahitya is a work of intelligence, with all the words ending with ‘ni’ like ‘mAlini’, ‘pUrani’,etc. One has to listen to this sahityam to know the various names of Goddess Mahalakshmi. Credit has to be given to the composer for one feature – the composition is on Goddess Lakshmi. It would not be exaggerating to say that there are very limited compositions on Goddess Lakshmi. The number will turn more meager if compared to the compositions on Goddess Parvathi or Goddess Saraswathi. Once again, Smt.Sumithra and team have given a dainty performance.
‘engu pArthalum’ in raga dEvagAndhAri is the next piece, which is set to Adi talam. The composer’s dEvagAndhAri is a pure one, without the slightest traces of Arabhi or sahAnA. These two allied ragas somehow occur in most of the compositions in dEvagAndhAri but were never noticeable in this one. The expertise of the composer is palpable through her handling of this rare and raucous raga. This composition will sound good on the dance stage too, since it is the composer’s vision of God in all the striking characteristics of Mother Nature. The composition is a masterpiece – with an unparalleled sahityam and an unequalled musical setting with necessary sangathis. The composer has conveyed her thoughts through rich imagery in the anupallavi and charanam – both sound and tactile. This composition should not be heard, but experienced. The sounds in the charanam are actually audible through the swaras. One has to thank Smt.Sumithra and team for bringing out the features of the composition so accurately.
‘shAradE saraswathi’ in raga kunthalavarAli and Tisra Adi talam is an capitulation to Goddess Saraswathi. The pallavi is unique, with a new dimension to raga kunthalavarAli. The composition’s tone is bubbly and happy throughout. This composition scores 100/100 as it will be most appropriate for all occasions – a post-main piece in a concert, a quick finisher in dance performances, a devotional piece in bhajan sessions/namasankeerthanam, a song to worship Goddess Saraswathi on Saraswathi Pooja/any other pooja, a song that can be taught by music teachers to small children in schools, a song that adds variety to an instrumental performance, or even a song that can be presented in a Indian-western fusion concert, as the song gives a western feel! There is nothing more to say about this delightful little composition.
The next compostion ‘inru varuvAnO’ in raga kalyAna vasantham and tAlam Adi can never be appreciated through words. The composer’s seemingly hidden power has been broadcasted chillingly. The composition is a mixture of emotions and the finest of music. The sahityam, by itself, is a poetic tour de force. The music has been set according to the sahityam, conveying the emotions so excellently. The sahityam and swaram correlation is perceivable easily. ‘inru varuvAnO nAlayO’, which means ‘Will he come today or tomorrow?’ is a worried question. And, the worry, the anxiety, the agony, the pain in the question ‘inru varuvAnO’ is conveyed mightily through the dhaivatham of kalyAna vasantham. ‘nAlayO’ is not what it is expected, as the Lord is expected to come on that day itself! The composer has expressed her shock or unexpectedness through the upper shadjam. In the phrase ‘ennEramum avan vazhi nOkki ninrEn’, the word ‘ninrEn’ occupies the swaras ‘gmpmgrsn’ touching the lower nishAdham, which is the quintessence of kalyAna vasantham. Plenty of sangathis in this rare raga make the composition even more special. The uneasiness and apprehension of Mother Yashoda(or the composer) is evident from the anupallavi. The charanam is indeed masterful. The madhyamakala passage has superb spacing in terms of talam, which was unique. The first three lines of the passage were indeed fast but the last word in the last line (oli pozhi mugam “kAttida”) was slow and stagnant to indicate the relief that would have been caused if Lord Krishna had shown his face to Mother Yashoda. This also provides an effective bridging back to the pallavi, which is the unmatched skill of the composer.
The ragamalika composition ‘AdippAdi dinam’ set to Adi tAlam is one of the best compositions in the album. This ragamalika should be called a classical ragamalika as it is different from some typical post-main ragamalikas which are sung in obscure ragas. This ragamalika has been composed akin to those of other great composers like Thanjavur Shankara Iyer, Kadalur Subramaniam, etc. The ragas which have been covered in great detail are Anandhabhairavi, Mohanam, Sama and Sindhubhairavi. The raga bhava of each raga is infinite in every phrase of the song. The attraction which cannot be missed is the playing of the violin player before every raga neatly. The first two ragas have been explored finely. The third raga, sAmA, is doubly special, since it bears no resemblance to the composer’s other song ‘vEngadavA’! The composer is indeed gifted, to have such a lot of imagination and improvisational skills, elevating her compositions in every possible way! The first three stanzas cover the lovely acts and beauty of Lord Krishna. The fourth stanza is a transition from fun and frolic to deep emotions enhanced by Sindhubhairavi, as Mother Yashoda conveys her fortune of being the mother of the Lord of the Universe.
The penultimate ‘makkala Atava’ in raga behag and talam Adi is a very different and enjoyable composition. The combination of kannada and behag has turned out to be very successful. This piece will sound extremely good in post-main sections of concerts. The behAg feel has been incorporated well by the composer and the rendition was transcendent.
The final ‘unnai ninaindhE’ in ragam punnAgavarAli was unique and mind-melting. It was a confession to the Lord that complete surrender to him is the only happiness in the world. The raga bhava was covered beautifully, giving adequate importance to the feel and emotion.
Overall, it was sheer gratification to listen to this album. Derivable information was that Smt.Rajee Krishnan is a musical and poetic genius. The album offers such a lot of variety in terms of language, deity, raga, talam and other factors. Full credit has to go to Smt.Sumithra Nitin and team. Without them, the composer cannot gain any fame. The mridangam and ghatam accompaniment should also be appreciated. The accompanying was warm and erudite through the album, playing apt phrases, enhancing the compositions significantly. This album is a must-listen for all music lovers. After listening to this album, it will not be exaggeration to say that the listeners will classify the people of the world into two categories - ones who have experienced Smt.Rajee’s music and ones who have not
Last edited by srinivasrgvn
on 27 Dec 2009, 12:38, edited 1 time in total.