Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

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tmmurali
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#1 Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by tmmurali »

Sanjay Subrahmanyan
S. Varadarajan (violin)
Neyveli Venkatesh (mridangam)
Anirudh Athreya (kanjira)

Finally! Made it to a Sanjay Subrahmanyan concert. After arriving three-quarters of the way through the season, missing the boat for advance tickets at Narada Gana Sabha, and not daring to brave the deadly Chennai Winter-Has-Come-chills to stand in line at 3am at the Music Academy, I schlepped myself along the length and breadth of Anna Salai to buy tickets in advance and then again for the concert itself. My wife, who is an admirer of his music, joined me for this concert.

I have not attended a Tamil Isai Sangam concert in person but have listened to a few recordings from the 1960s and 1970s. The Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall is a grand old building with an imposing edifice. Portraits of musicians hang along the external walls.

For such an imposing hall, the organisers have chosen to let people in through a bottleneck of two tiny doors. So we all did an into-the-hall walk-like-penguins shuffle. But there were several helpful volunteers inside dressed in white coats to point everyone to their seats. Giant portraits lined the walls inside. I recognised ARI on the left. MMI smiled benevolently on the right, close to where we were sitting. The seats were very comfortable with support for the head as well. Ideal for a nap after a session at the canteen or to show appreciation for a nIlAmbari in the air.

The concert started at 7:10pm. Sanjay announced most of the songs, ragams, and the composers.

The first two items were vinAyakA sharaNam in kalyANavasantam by T M Thyagarajan and shiva cidambaramE in nAgasvarAvaLi by Muttu TaanDavar.

Then he sang one or two lines of peTra tAi tanai in toDi followed by ennEramum oru kAlait-tUkki by mArimuthu pillai. Swarams at the pallavi were very good. S. Varadarajan's returns were excellent and the percussion support was soft and sensitive.

Sanjay continued with pArengum pArttAlum in kalyAni by Ghanam Krishna Iyer.

Next he announced that he would sing gAyakapriyA, melakarta 13 and KOTeeshwara Iyer's composition. I didn't pay attention to the number at that time but salivated at the thought of a new ragam that must surely be vivadi. A problem (or maybe an advantage) for me when listening to a vivAdi melakarta is that it often appears to have one principal component corresponding to a proximal, non-vivAdi melakarta and a second strongly vivadi component. In the initial few seconds, I sensed vakulAbharanam, which told me this one was #13, but subsequently Sanjay's gAyakapriyA stood in resplendent isolation. I thoroughly enjoyed his exploration of the ragam. There were some truly lovely phrases in the lower octave at the end of the alapanai. The song was nAda nilai kanDuruga nAn with short swarams at the pallavi.

tAyE EzhaipAl in bhairavi came next. There was an excellent neraval at yennAda yellam enni enni. The meaning of this line is so beautiful (the Tamil was beyond my ken in most of the earlier compositions). The phrases and sequences were the essence of Bhairavi. I looked over at my wife and she was immersed in the music. No swarams. He announced that this song was by Papanasam Sivan.

It was 8:14pm, so should be time for an RTP. Sure enough, he announced an RTP in rAgeshri. My wife, who is trained in Hindustani music, was delighted that he had selected a Hindustani ragam. I was completely into the R and the T, which lasted about half an hour. You can see his account on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sanjaysub/) for some snippets. With a knowing smile at the audience, he started the pallavi "ninaikkAda nEramillai murugA ninaindu ninaindu urugi pADiDa," from the famous Madurai Somu song in the same ragam. I do not know the talam. There were some pyrotechnics in the pallavi that went over my head. Swarams were in shivaranjani, thendral, and brindAvana sAranga.

There was an amusing moment during the swarams. After the second ragam, he said (in Tamil, of course): "This ragam is called Thendral. It was named by Sri. T. V. Gopalakrishnan." Scattered laughs from the audience at the name (which means gentle breeze from the South, for those who may not know Tamil). After Varadarajan's return, Sanjay said, referring to the violinist using the honorific 'ivar': "I sang a wrong note. He is showing me that I sang it incorrectly. He is Sri. Gopalakrishnan's student. If this is Thendral, then that is Pudiya Thendral." (new Thendral) Kudos to him for accepting the mistake so openly and graciously and making the audience laugh to boot. His recovery reminded me of Federer rushing to the net only to be lobbed, and then charging back to the baseline to unleash a between-the-legs passing shot.

See Twitter for details on the episode, the ragams, and additional comments: https://twitter.com/sanjaysub/status/12 ... 5126067200

There was a short seven-minute thani. Sanjay really appreciated both the percussionists.

Several thukkadas followed, noteworthy among them being a exhortation to study Tamil books (tuned by Sanjay) and a tillana in Maru Behag (the ragam name appeared in the lyrics).

Most of the songs were new to me, which was a novel experience. The concert structure was interesting: alapanai, neraval, and swarams partitioned across multiple songs; three of the big six ragams done and dusted in the first six songs; a rare vivadi melakarta explored in depth; a Hindustani ragam for an RTP with a quintessentially Tamil pallavi (Somu has sung the song at the Tamil Isai Sangam); an unfamiliar ragam post-RTP converted on-the-spot into a new ragam; and several thukkadas.

Varadarajan's violin has a heavenly sound. His accompaniment was superb. Both the percussionists elevated the concert, with several sensitive and soft occasions passages. There were a few loud snatches, though.

Rageshri was playing in my head all morning on the next day.

Here is the song list. rasikas.org has been invaluable for the spelling. Meanings of several songs are also on rasikas.org.

1. vinAyakA sharaNam, kalyANavasantam, T M Thyagarajan
2. shiva cidambaramE, nAgasvarAvaLi, Muttu TaanDavar
3. peTra tAi tanai followed by ennEramum oru kAlait-tUkki, tODi, MArimuthu Pillai
4. pArengum pArttAlum, kalyAni, Ghanam Krishna Iyer
5. nAda nilai kanDuruga nAn, gAyakapriya, KOTeeshwara Iyer
6. tAyE EzhaipAl, bhairavi, papanasam sivan
7. RTP, rAgeshri, ninaikkAda nEramillai murugA ninaindu ninaindu urugi pADiDa, swarams in shivaranjani, pudiya thendral, thendral, brindavana saranga
8. Thani
9. ethanai kODi inbam, dEsh, Subrahmanya Bharathiar
10. (Thamizh) Noolai padi, behAg, Bharathidaasan (tuned by Sanjay, https://indianexpress.com/article/india ... n-5479768/)
11. thirisila giriyAr, Senjurutti
12. Thillana, mAru behAg, composed by ???; Sanjay has sung this thillana before earlier this year (viewtopic.php?t=32944).
13. Kavadi Chindu, request from front row
14. I did not note this song
15. vAzhiya shentamizh, madhyamAvati, Subrahmanya Bharathiar

kvchellappa
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#2 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by kvchellappa »

A model of a review.

RSR
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#3 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by RSR »

@1
Well presented review Sir. Thank you.

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#4 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by arasi »

tmmurali,
A detailed review which cares to bring in the flavor of the concert too. Thanks!

tmmurali
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Joined: 16 Sep 2018, 23:01

#5 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by tmmurali »

Thank you all for your kind words.

tmmurali
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Joined: 16 Sep 2018, 23:01

#6 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by tmmurali »

tmmurali wrote:
01 Jan 2020, 07:54
12. Thillana, mAru behAg, composed by ???; Sanjay has sung this thillana before earlier this year (viewtopic.php?t=32944).
Sanjay Subrahmanyan composed the Maru Behag thillana himself. I am replying to myself since I do not see the link to edit my original post to reflect this information.

rbharath
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#7 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by rbharath »

nice to read your post sir.

indeed the Raja Annamalai Mandram is such a wonderful auditorium. i like the place. even the acoustics are very good there.
when i was a regular season-concert-hopper, i would happily go and sit there for even the afternoon concerts, and then would walk around town area for some shopping/eating/temple visiting and all that.

rshankar
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#8 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by rshankar »

tmmurali wrote:
02 Jan 2020, 08:09
Sanjay Subrahmanyan composed the Maru Behag thillana himself. I am replying to myself since I do not see the link to edit my original post to reflect this information.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gx_1cHUdwoY

tmmurali
Posts: 25
Joined: 16 Sep 2018, 23:01

#9 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by tmmurali »

tmmurali wrote:
02 Jan 2020, 08:09
tmmurali wrote:
01 Jan 2020, 07:54
12. Thillana, mAru behAg, composed by ???; Sanjay has sung this thillana before earlier this year (viewtopic.php?t=32944).
Sanjay Subrahmanyan composed the Maru Behag thillana himself.
Some info on when and where he composed it, in case you have not see it:
https://twitter.com/sanjaysub/status/12 ... 9223681024

tmmurali
Posts: 25
Joined: 16 Sep 2018, 23:01

#10 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by tmmurali »

tmmurali wrote:
01 Jan 2020, 07:54

There was an amusing moment during the swarams. After the second ragam, he said (in Tamil, of course): "This ragam is called Thendral. It was named by Sri. T. V. Gopalakrishnan." Scattered laughs from the audience at the name (which means gentle breeze from the South, for those who may not know Tamil). After Varadarajan's return, Sanjay said, referring to the violinist using the honorific 'ivar': "I sang a wrong note. He is showing me that I sang it incorrectly. He is Sri. Gopalakrishnan's student. If this is Thendral, then that is Pudiya Thendral." (new Thendral) Kudos to him for accepting the mistake so openly and graciously and making the audience laugh to boot. His recovery reminded me of Federer rushing to the net only to be lobbed, and then charging back to the baseline to unleash a between-the-legs passing shot.

See Twitter for details on the episode, the ragams, and additional comments: https://twitter.com/sanjaysub/status/12 ... 5126067200

Video of Thendral vs. Pudiya Thendral, with appropriate facial reactions to boot: https://twitter.com/sanjaysub/status/12 ... 2728139776

kvchellappa
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#11 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by kvchellappa »

Background to the thillana:
"From FB;
Sanjay Subrahmanyan
March 26 at 3:14 PM ·
Sometime in 1994/95 was in the Shatabdi Express from Bengaluru to Chennai - there was self inflicted pressure to compose a Tillana, which I completed on that journey, Never had the guts to sing it in public until 13/04/19 (My Guru had ok'd it back then.)"

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#12 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by Sachi_R »

KVC Sir,
I would love to listen to that tillana in Marubehag sung by Amrutha Venkatesh!

kvchellappa
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#13 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by kvchellappa »

Is it available? I have listened to all her music that has caught my eye in youtube. She keeps posting.

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#14 Re: Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Tamil Isai Sangam, Raja Annamalai Chettiar Hall, Dec 29, 2019

Post by arasi »

What a well-sculpted tillAnA besides being a breeze of a piece! Coming to think of it, those are the qualities which make any tillAnA a stand out piece, I suppose. However much Sanjay has evolved since that time, you see an inspired moment stamped in it, without doubt.
Hope there are more to come as compositions from him in the coming years.
Yes, I would like to hear Amrutha V sing it too...

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