The AIR broadcast of select recordings of the late Lalgudi G. Jayaraman brought to listeners the intricate aspects of the Lalgudi bani
When asked about the distinctive features of the “Lalgudi bani”, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, a torchbearer of the Lalgudi bani as well as the daughter and disciple of the late Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, the veteran violinist, genius composer and great guru who passed away last week in Chennai, described the bani for an interview more than a year ago in the following words: “The Lalgudi bani very closely simulates the gayaki ang and gives utmost importance to bhava and classicism. Music is approached always keeping in mind the value of aesthetics, whether it is in rendering a kriti, kalpana swara or even an intricate rhythmic passage. Melody predominates, while laya remains a strong, ever present undercurrent, never projecting itself. Thus, a sense of proportion is maintained between the two. Also, instrumental virtuosity and technique are never showcased, compromising the beauty or the bhava of the music.” Thanks to the quick and thoughtful gesture of All India Radio to broadcast select violin recordings of the maestro sourced from their archives, during their weekly National Programme of Music last Saturday, radio listeners could savour, for about an hour and a half, these finer aspects of the Lalgudi bani as had been described by Vijayalakshmi.
The veteran began his recital with a varnam (in raga Neelambari), ending with a scintillating tillana (in traga Revati). In between the varnam and the tillana came some rare as well as some popular compositions. But it was incredible to hear the manner in which the veteran handled the rare kritis as wonderfully as he handled the often heard ones, an equal measure of deftness going into each.
In the former category the maestro played Tyagaraja’s composition “Aparadamula norva” in raga Rasali, and Pallavi Sesha Iyer’s composition “Enthanivinavinthura”. Tyagaraja’s “Maravairi Ramani” in raga Nasika Bhushani, and Muttuswami Dikshitar’s “Balagopala” in raga Bhairavi, feature in the latter. While the alapana of raga Nasika Bhushani was brief, raga Bhairavi received a detailed exposition. Even in the brief alapana, the features of the raga came to the fore. Subramanya Bharati’s composition in ragamallika was another treat. Another notable aspect in this recital was the mridangam accompaniment by late Palghat R. Raghu and the kanjira by late G. Hari Shankar. Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, son and disciple of Jayaraman, and another torchbearer of his bani, provided violin support.
To another question on how this style of instrument playing transcends the language barrier, Vijayalakshmi had answered, “The Lalgudi bani always puts aesthetics in the forefront in its approach to music. My guru has shown in his compositions how bhava can be evoked with or without the help of lyrics. Most of his compositions can be enjoyed as pure music displaying myriad emotions and beauty. When such music is conveyed through the violin, tonal variations and dynamics are kept in mind… with all these aspects and flawless bowing, the Lalgudi bani through the violin goes beyond the language barriers and captures the hearts of the audience everywhere.” Truly, while the recital captured the hearts of radio listeners, it was also reassuring that the legacy of the unique Lalgudi bani evolved by the perfectionist maestro will continue to be carried forward through the generations.
Keywords: Lalgudi G. Jayaraman