In Joy:Sanjay Subrahmanyan Live

When I saw the flyer from the Geneva Indian Association that there was to be a Sanjay Subrahmanyan concert, I was thrilled. In Melbourne, I used to get to hear live concerts of top-level Carnatic Music exponents a few times each year. Since moving to Switzerland eight years ago, I have been to only one concert – and we drove 250 kms each way to see it! Any live Carnatic Music would have gotten me excited, and this was Sanjay whose music I listen to at least a few times each week !!

Thanks to my dear husband who likes to be not just early, but you-can’t-be-serious kind of early, we reached Geneva a good hour and a half before the concert. The organisers were just getting themselves organised and I introduced myself to the lady with whom I had made contact for tickets. Before long, my husband and I were helping them set up the stage. The artists arrived soon and I had the privilege of listening to the warm-up by Sanjay, the violinist S.Varadarajan and the mridangam artist Neyveli Venkatesh. Sanjay sang the varnam Chalame in Nataikurinji to test the sounds; what a sound he has !! My concert started there.

The concert then followed along these lines:

  • Varnam Sarasuda Ninne Kori in Saveri by Kotthavaasal Venkatrama Iyer
  • Marivere Gati in Ananda Bhairavi by Shyama Shastri – This raga’s calm,  soft and supplicating tones were beautifully sung by Sanjay.
  • Seetapati na in Khamas by Tyagaraja – this was a detailed rendition with raga and kalpanaswaram. I loved the neraval in particular. Young Varadarajan supported Sanjay excellently on the violin.
  • Ka va va in Varali by Papanasam Sivan – I love Varali and this composition in particular is beautiful. I was delighted as I hadn’t heard Sanjay sing this before!
  • Bhogindra Shayinam in Kuntala Varali by Swati Tirunal – Its such a beautifully rhythmic piece, a favourite with the audience.
  • Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Todi – A good heavy raga. The Tanam started very leisurely, the way I like it but suddenly Sanjay sped up and it was over before I knew it ! I was rather surprised at the speed but perhaps time limitations dictated this. The kalpanaswarams were fantastic, the artists had warmed-up and their synergy enhanced the performance. Both the raga alapanai on the violin and the thani on the mridangam were well executed.
  • Akhilandeshwari in Dwijavanti byMuthuswamy Dikshithar – Oh how I love this song ! Fantastic rendition! Again, I don’t have a it on CD by Sanjay in my collection so it was particularly a pleasure.
  • Kandu Dhanya in Behag by Purandaradasa
  • Tunbam Nergayil in Desh by Bharathidasan – A treat for me to hear Sanjay’s rendition – a wonderful Tamizh song, enunciated perfectly, each sentence imbibed with the full meaning of the lyrics by Sanjay’s expertise.

I luckily found an an audio of Sanjay singing Tunbam Nergayil in Raga Desh (see footnote), so I present this for your listening pleasure.  The song is written by Bharatidasan and according to internet sources, set to music by Dandapani Desikar for the movie Or Iravu (1951).

Long after the concert finished, the sounds kept reverberating inside me. Sanjay’s voice embodies all that is masculine in Carnatic Music singing; it comes from the nabhi, from deep inside his body, with astonishing strength. In the lower ranges especially, it sounds magnificent. A man blessed by Goddess Saraswati.

I am a fan.

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Sanjay Subrahmanyan

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