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Disappointing KVN

K V Narayanaswamy
Rs 45

This recording will send KVN's admirers scouring in their collections to see whether it is the same master. His wife Padma, in trying to sustain him, sounds very high-pitched. Their shrutis don't match.

Side A begins with a shloka from Shankaracharya, Sadabalagopala rupi, followed by a time-tested Purandaradasa composition, Jaya jaya jaya, both in Naata. KVN continues with Ram surat gur padam by Periasamy Thooran.

Until he sings the all-time favourite, Tyagaraja's Mokshamu galada in raga Saramathi, this cassette does not measure up to the expectations of a classical music tape. Only here do we find shades of the old master. Saramathi revives KVN a bit, for all that went before (except for the Purandaradasa composition) is not part of the established classical repertoire. In trying to win acceptance for lesser-known compositions in the classical tradition, KVN lacks all conviction.

But the most surprising choice in this recording, already flawed for lack of a balanced programme, is a new, colourless composition by Ganapathi Satchidananda Swamiji, Dattatreya, in raga Ranjani. Even an established master like KVN cannot make this totally unremarkable composition work.

Side B has more disappointments. Todi, one of the most magnificent ragas in the Karnatak music tradition, begins abruptly. A portion of the beginning is lost because of careless editing. A jaded neraval and swara prasthara follow the Shyama Sastri kriti, Ninne namminanu. The concert ends with a classic final offering, Karpagame in raga Madhyamavati by Papanasam Sivan.

If the master disappoints you, the accompanists are equally uninspired. Violinist Chandramouli's interpretation of Todi is hurried and cliched. The two percussionists seem to overwhelm the withdrawn KVN.

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