Vocal: Vijaya Rajendran, Gowri Ramnarayan, Radha Vishwanathan
Violin: R.K. Shivakumar, Kandadevi Alagiriswamy, Dwaram Mangatayaru
Mridangam: K.V. Prasad, Guruvayoor Durai
Ghatam: T.H. Vinayak Ram
Catlogue No: BR/100/02-DVD-II
Swara Ganga M.S. Subbulakshmi
Madurai Shanmukhavadivu Subbulakshmi – M.S. Subbulakshmi, who is known widely as M.S. is undoubtedly the greatest voice of Indian music in the last hundred years.
Subbulakshmi was born on 16th September 1916in Madurai. Her mother, Shanmukhavadivu, was a well-known vainika.
Subbulakshmi grew up in a musical atmosphere. Her home was the meeting place for eminent vidvans and she recalls in particular the influence Sri Dakshinamurthy Pillai had on her, in her formative years.
Subbulakshmi’s rise to stardom was phenomenal. She took Madras by storm and within ten years became the reigning queen of melody.
Her greatest triumph in the celluloid world came in her film Meera.
Meera became a milestone in her career in more ways than one. She came into the national limelight.
Subbulakshmi attained consummate artistry in classical music while she was in her early thirties. Her training under Musiri Subramania Iyer and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer gave maturity and polish to what she had already achieved on, her own some years ago.
Subbulakshmi’s chaste classicism is the result of years of rigorous discipline which she never neglected despite the gift of a quicksilver voice, which can obey her slightest command.
She has never allowed herself to be lulled into complacency by her extraordinary voice but has, since her childhood, been constantly testing it, seeing how far she can stretch it in terms of range, pitch, technique and new genres of music.
Subbulakshmi’s music has never remained static as she always takes on new challenges, extending its frontiers as perhaps no other musician of this century has done. To give the audience something fresh each time has been her constant endeavour rather than an obsession with mere technical virtuosity, although she is not lacking in that either.
Her innovations have been in the kacheri paddhati.
By offering not merely a balanced fare of Carnatak music but a balanced fare of music that cuts across linguistic and cultural boundaries, encompassing all of india. She is unique in this respect, and it is the only Carnatak musician with a national image.
The tara sthayi holds a special fascination for Carnatak musicians and composers.
They have shown that it has an identity of its own. The anupallavis of most kritis are in the tara sthayi.
Subbulakshmi revels in the tara sthayi where her voice soars like a bird. The effortless ease with which she sways to the tara gandhara and loses herself in the beauty of that note has an electrifying effect on the audience.
While Subbulakshmi is brilliant in all the three aspects of manodharma sangita, her special forte is niraval.
They are an exercise in pure aesthetics and the raga springs to life from the sahitya. She has an instinctive feel for the meaning of the text and each word of the phrase that she so aptly selects, stands out like a gem set in a jewel.
As her voice soars to the tara sthayi and the gandhara shines resplendent through the words, one can see a koel floating in the sky, gently flapping its wings. The kalpana swaras that follow are brisk and sharply etched in contrast, leading to a glorious finale.
A major contribution of Subbulakshmi to Carnatak music is the revival of the kritis of the 15th century composer Annamacharya dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupati.
Subbulakshmi adopted the bhaktimarga (path of devotion) very early in life using music to reach out to the divine.
In a concert she picks up her cymbals and pours out this ecstasy-filled music, transporting the audience on to a higher plane of spirituality.
Her voice has earned millions for noble causes. As a celebrity she has moved with and played hostess to world leaders with gentle charm and dignity. At home she is the traditional housewife, stringing flower garlands for her puja room and decorating the floor with her beautiful “kolam”.
This shloka, composed by Kalidasa, says that just as Meaning and Word are complementary and cannot exist without each other, so too are the Divine Couple, Parvati and Parameshwara inseparable. We bow reverently to them.
Lakshmi Vishwanathan, eminent dancer and writer, who has also written a biography of Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi, introduces the singer and pays rich tributes to her technique and humility.
• Kaittala Niraikkani
Kriti: Muthuswamy Dikshitar
Kriti: Shyama Shastri
• Pakkala Nilabadi
• Rama Nannu Brovara
Raga: Hari Kamboji
• Kurai Onrumillai