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 As we pursue speed, the very nature of music, that is contemplation, discovery and exploration, is lost. MDR will take you to an artistic region where the joys of slowness can be savoured

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Review

Slow and beautifully nuanced

MDR slowly unravels the delicate nuances of two ragas -- Bhairavi and Anandabhairavi

M D Ramanathan
Gitaa Cassettes
Mylapore, Chennai
Rs 50

For those who thought Karnatak music was all take-out style concerts of 20-odd items performed with dizzying efficiency, M D Ramanathan's concerts would have been a revelation.

Gitaa Cassettes' live recording of one of MDR's concert has just two compositions in it, the grand pada varnam by Syama Sastri in raga Bhairavi, Kanchi Kamakshi, and O Jagadamba in raga Anandabhairavi by Dikshithar.

Never mind that the inlay card mixes up the composer's names, does not bother to tell you who is accompanying MDR (I suspect it is Lalgudi Jayaraman or T N Krishnan on the violin and Palghat Raghu on the mridangam) and does not care to mention the year or venue of this precious live recording.

Just listen to the deep voice booming out in contemplation of Kanchi Kamakshi. This pada varnam unfolds each minute gamaka of Bhairavi. Each of its stanzas starts on a consecutive note of the raga, the first on sa, the second or ri and so on, and each stresses one aspect of this magnificent raga. MDR's gamaka on ga, typical of Bhairavi and reaching out tentatively to ma, is like the Golden Gate swaying gently in the buffeting breeze over the Bay. For those who would like to appreciate Bhairavi, or learn more about its slow grace, this tape will come in handy.

Anandabhairavi is another treat. Traditionally used for lullabies and for wedding songs, it takes on an exploratory inflexion with MDR, who digs deep with the kriti O Jagadamba. Starting with the mandra sthayi, the composition slowly proceeds up the scale and charms out the tender nature of the raga.

Going by its website, Gita Cassettes seems to be interested in selling paraphernalia for Hindu rituals. Those who had despaired of ever finding MDR recordings will be grateful to the label, even if the quality of the recordings is not the best. 

As we pursue speed, the very nature of music, that is contemplation, discovery and exploration, is lost. MDR will take you to an artistic region where the joys of slowness can be savoured. 

S Suchitra Lata

Posted on 18th August 2001

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