This five-pack CD comprises the music by some of the stalwarts to the accompaniment of Madurai Mani Iyer.
A brisk ‘Vathapi’ (Hamsadhwani) rendered by Lalgudi Jayaraman and Srimathi Brahmanandam is the curtain raiser of the second disc, which has Mani Iyer totally matching up to Lalgudi’s exquisite manodharma. Another instrumental session follows with flautist Mali playing ‘Sujanajeevana’ (Khamas), succeeding which is ‘Seethamma’ (Vasantha) rendered by Madurai Mani Iyer. The delightful tani avarthanam following Semmangudi’s ‘Nee Bhajanagana’ (Nayaki) has Mani Iyer scaling Himalayan heights and mere words will not suffice to describe the sheer beauty of this magnificent thani, which is totally mesmerising. It just has to be heard to appreciate the genius of Mani Iyer. ‘Nadamadi’ (Khambodi) by Ariyakudi, ‘Sukhievvaro’ (Kaanada) rendered on the violin by T.N. Krishnan, ‘Jagadodarana’ (Kapi) by K.V. Narayanaswamy and a Tiruppugazh in Asaveri by D.K. Pattammal are the other compositions in this disc with the soul-stirring mridangam accompaniment.
Delightful swara packages
One gets to listen to a vintage four kalai pallavi in Thodi sung by Ariyakudi in the third disc. This disc sports two tani avartanams, one of which is after D.K. Pattammal’s vocalisation of ‘Chitham Iranga Villayo’ (Sriranjani). The ending makutam in the initial part of the tani avartanam has Mani Iyer fashioning it to match the opening line of the song. The single avartha swaras for ‘Janani’ (Ritigowla) by Semmangudi are delightful and pave the way for another scintillating percussive feast from the mridangam vidwan. Other compositions which are heard in this disc are ‘Padavini’ (Lalgudi), ‘Manasa Etulo’ (GNB) and ‘Sapasya Kowsalya’ (Semmangudi). The fourth disc opens with a rendering of ‘Sri Subramanyaya’ (Khambodi) by M.D. Ramanathan. His version is mostly an exercise of manodharma and does not match established patantharas of this masterpiece. It is no doubt sung with creativity which is well anticipated by Mani Iyer. A fast-paced ‘Koluvaiyunnade’ (Bhairavi) by Lalgudi, a double avarthana pallavi in Adi tala by Semmangudi is in Sankarabharanam and a thillana in Bilahari composed by Ariyakudi sung by K.V. Narayanaswamy constitute the other songs in this penultimate disc of this album.
The final disc provides listeners with a vibrant ‘Maragathavalli’ (Khambodi) by GNB and an equally vibrant tani avartanam by the maestro. All the tani avartanams are well appreciated by the main performers and their words of praise can be heard in abundance during the percussive sessions. D.K. Jayaraman’s rendering of Tyagaraja’s mangalam in Sourashtram is sung unhurriedly and it offers vishranthi music. Mani Iyer’s views on what constitutes layam is a speech we get to hear towards the finish of this album. This is followed by speeches on the greatness of Mani Iyer’s art by Lalgudi and C.S. Murugabhoopathi.