The first Indian Musician that I want to discuss about is Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman
Name : Lalgudi G Jayaraman
DOB : September 17th 1930
Known for : Astounding dexterity in playing the Violin (Carnatic Style), Music Composer, Music Director
Webpage : http://www.lalgudis.com/
Why I like him?
To me, Sri LGJ is the God of Violin. I have been associated with music since, maybe when I was 4 years old or even younger. Over time I started to appreciate some music better than others. In that list, Sri LGJ’s came very early. I had always felt drawn towards his music, his way of playing and his compositions have never stopped to amaze me every time I listen to them. I always believed he was a complete musician. That he is a genius is an understatement. When it came to accompanying in a concert or be it a violin solo/duet, one could make out the stamp of authority and style of his play which very few could do. I love Sri MSG, Sri VVS, Sri TNK and all the other extraordinary violinists but Sri LGJ always has had a special place in my heart because of not only his stupendous violin playing, but also because of his compositions.
Sri LGJ has over 60 compositions to his credit and every one is a gem on its own. His compositions include more than 20 Varnams, about 8 Krithis and over 30 Thillanas in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. He had also composed music for Operatic Ballets and also for a film, Sringaram, for which he won the National Award for Music Direction. In my blog page, when I discuss ragas and compositions, I would also discuss about LGJ’s compositions. My interest in music has been kept alive because of LGJ’s music.
Samples of his music.
These are some of the most favorite of recordings of LGJ that actually made me become his fan. I obviously cannot list down all the songs, but will try to give a variety of songs that will feature many of his amazing abilities as a musician who transcends the normal.
We will start with a varnam.
1. Varnam – nE vE gatIyanI – rAgA nalinakAnthI – Adi tAlA – Composition of Sri LGJ
I will write about the awesomeness of this varnam in my next post on raga Nalinakanthi. Its a beautiful romantic and happy raga. More on this later 🙂
2. mOkshamu galadA, Raga sAramathI, Adi Tala, Composition of Sri Thyagaraja Swamy
This particular recording is one of my all time favorites!! If I have to save some of the music in this world for posterity, this recording would definitely be one of them. Actually, though this is a piece from one of AVM recording house album ( not very sure on this, but later it came out as a part of Lalgudi Jayaraman- heritage series, a set of recordings), I could not help myself but share it!! My dad had the recording of this song (this same recording) as a tail piece or rather as a space filler in a recording of a vocal concert of Madurai Somasundaram which he got in the 1980’s from a friend of his from the middle east who had the actual LP-record of this album!! As far as I can remember, this was one of the first songs that moved me as a 6-year old kid to tears. Though there are many other recording of LGJ playing the same song, this particular recording has a special place in my heart.
The starting of the recording (00:01 – 00:20)is just so amazing and perfectly sets the mood to the song. The quality of the music is too amazing for words. The way LGJ finishes off stanzas (01:47 – 02:06), (05:57 -06:10) are just magical that even now when I play this song on flute, I involuntarily play the same way!! The anupallavi or the first stanza and the charanam(second stanza) just drip with such an emotion (02:38 – 02:45), (02: 50 – 02:56) that whatever I write will not suffice. One must feel it oneself to realize the power that music has.
3. akilAndeshwarI – rAgA dvijAvanthI – Adi tAlA – Composition of Muddusvami Dikshitar
MS Subbulakshmi is very famous for this song. The bhakthi with which MSS sings is superb but likewise is the way LGJ plays this song. This raga is very beautiful and has a touch of melancholy to it which probably would appeal to William Wordsworth had he a chance to listen to it!!
4. jagadOdArana – rAgA (hindustAni) kApi – PurandaradAsA kriti
This song is a favorite for the way LGJ plays the interlude parts in between the actual song. He gives such a distinct flavor of the raga that I have lost count of the number of times I have become mesmerized when listening to this. The song is played on the Madhyama scale (with the note ma of SRGMPDN as the tonic note)
5. enna thavam seidhanei – rAgA Kapi – Adi tAlA – Composition of pApanAsam Sivan
LGJ is famous for playing this song. Actually when I had a chance to meet with Sri LGJ, he himself told how important this song was to him as the composer Sri pApanAsam Sivan after listening to LGJ play this song, commented that it seemed that the song was written just for LGJ to play it. The way LGJ expresses the meaning of the song just with his playing technique is an aural treat. (02:52 – 03:25) is mindblowing. the lyrics go as ‘uralil katti vaai potthi, (kannanai) kenja veithai thaye’ which translates to ‘You tied up the Lord Krishna to a stone and shut his mouth and made him beg you to free him, mother Yashoda’. The scene is that of mother Yashoda, fed up with baby Krishna’s antics, ties him up. The way LGJ gives a stop as he plays ….vaai potthi…. to indicate that krishna cant talk, and the way he plays ….kannanai, kenja vaithai…. (made him beg for mercy) just seems something beyond perfect!!
6. thEerAtha vilayATu piLlai – rAgAmAlikA (many rAgAs / garland of ragas) – Subbramanya Bharathi
This is Bliss!!!! No other words. Just hear it and if you know the lyrics you would definitely be moved by the awesomeness of his playing.
I will finish off with a few more of his recordings. Cheers!!!!
krishnA nEe bEganE bArO – rAgA yaman kalyAni – Misra Chapu : Hear it to feel it!!
entamuDdho – rAgA bindumAlini – Adi – Sri Thyagaraja Swamy : hear this song on flute by Dr N Ramani or in mandolin by U Srinivas or here by LGJ. Nowhere else would it sound as beautiful.
nAdalOludaI – rAgA kalyAnavasantham – Adi – Sri Thyagaraja Swamy : LGJ is famous for playing this song
tillAnA – rAgA sindubhairavi – Adi – Lagudi G Jayaraman : One of the most awesome thillanas
tillAnA – rAgA Des- Adi – Lagudi G Jayaraman : Sorry, did not have a better recording 🙁
PS: As an accompanist to a main artiste, in carnatic concerts, Sri LGJ was totally amazing. He would play differently for different musicians that he accompanied so that the overall quality of the concert was taken to a new level. As and when I post songs by different artistes in the raga posts, I will remember to indicate about LGJ’s accompaniment awesomeness when applicable 😉 . Cheers!!
Thanks to Karthik Krishnan for sharing the following recordings of Shri Lalgudi as an accompanist.
Here’s an example of his brilliance as an accompanist. Please note the reply to the final round of swarams.