S. Varadarajan, one of the young violinists, shares his views about Lalgudi Jayaraman.
‘Lalgudi G. Jayaraman gave a whole new dimension to the art of violin accompaniment. He was unparalleled in this simply because he could reproduce anything and everything that was thrown at him without any hesitation. Be it Khambodi, Kalyani, Anandabhairavi, Shanmukhapriya or for that matter Chenchukhambodi or Malavi or Garudadhwani, there was a natural and free flow.
I happened to listen to a recording of Lalgudi sir's accompaniment with M. Balamuralikrishna wherein he had sung Kalyani elaborately.
We all know of MBK's mastery and singing prowess. He has sung sruti bedham in that with Mohanam in Kalyani (ri to ri without pa) effortlessly. The ease with which Lalgudi Sir had reproduced the srutibedham apart from every other sangati MBK sang really amazed me. To play srutibedham in violin is difficult. But Lalgudi Sir's flow and ease was stunning.
His brilliance, precision and memory were of high quality. He could repeat anything that the vocalist sang. He played ragams in their style. This is the biggest challenge for any violinist. He excelled and also succeeded in this to an extraordinary level. Rasikas would cherish his fantastic replies to pallavi, kalpanaswaram, niraval, thanam and ragam. Old timers would remember how he replied to ragamalika swarams. This gives us ample proof of his memory and precision.
A style his own
Lalgudi Sir created his own unique fingering style to characterise the vocal style of playing. His viraladis, jarus and gamakams were crystal clear. When I saw G.J.R. Krishnan play pratimadhyamam with the index finger, it opened my eyes to a new fingering technique which I was not used to. He said that his father used it specifically to get more clarity and speed. I was amazed at the kind of speed and clarity one gets while playing a Kalyani, Pantuvarali or Varali using this technique. The phrases gmpdpm, gmpmgr, mpdpmg sounded better with this technique.
Lalgudi sir could exactly reproduce any kanakku. He had a flair for kanakku and could play brilliant repartees that not only inspired the main artist but gave immense joy to rasikas. From a violinist's point of view, the concert never sagged when he played. He had a great rapport with his fellow accompanists and carried them with him to greater heights. There was total focus in his playing his concentration impeccable. He never took his eyes off the singer and followed him/her like a shadow be it ragam or kirtanam. He had a great repertoire of kirtanams. These qualities need to be emulated by any violinist.
My guru, Sri TVG sir, would often remark “Jayaraman Siroda Vaasippu Neruppu Madhirida.” He would also say that the very first sangati Lalgudi Sir played in a ragam was a telling phrase, which brought the audience closer to him.
Lalgudi sir's style of accompaniment allowed the vocalist to sing what he intended. He inspired them, gave them comfort and was with them in every moment. He was the ‘ultimate accompanist’ one could have in a concert.
His passing away has left a void that cannot be filled. May his sishya parampara carry on the great bani!