While our precedent releases have focused on the Hindustani vocal music of northern India, it’s now time for a well-known exponent of the Caranatic tradition of the south to take his rightful place in Dunya’s series dedicated to the greatest interpreters of Indian classical music.
Born in 1930, from an early age BALAMURALIKRISHNA demonstrated a prodigious vocal talent that has since won him a prestigious place in Carnatic music. While the singular trajectory of his career has been marked by a number of unusual artistic choices for which he has been criticised, he has nonetheless won the affection and enthusiasm of audiences the world over. With a unique voice of a distinctly velvety timbre whose extension enables him to soar and swoop with disconcerting ease up and down the treacherous scales of embellishment that are such an essential part of a great artist’s style, BALAMURALIKRISHNA is particularly famed for his live performances in which he seems to smile his way beatifically through even the most arduous passages, maintaining absolute calm and concentration. But BALAMURALIKRISHNA’s fame is not solely on account of his amazing voice. He also plays the violin, viola, mridangam and kanjira and already in his early twenties was composing pieces in all the 72 raaga forms of the Melakarta charts, as well as countless works for other great musicians.
This recording comprises several masterpieces by the mystic, Thyagaraja (1767-1847) who spent his entire life immersed in spiritual reflection and intensive musical practice. From the very first track BALAMURALIKRISHNA’s brilliant melodic interpretations revive the transcendental atmosphere of the Carnatic composer’s work, celebrating the beauty of spiritual life and the abandonment of the self to God, the vision of whom pervades the entire universe inspiring joy, courage, enthusiasm and heroism.
In the pieces which follow, the expressive strength of BALAMURALIKRISHNA comes through in his ability to construct elaborate edifices from the simplest of melodic suggestions. Never just banal exercises in stylistic bravado, his variations on a given theme function as a model for the assemblage of musical parts each of which has its own intrinsic meaning. The listener is thus opened to the experience of a fusion of melodic and spiritual intensity, between the vibrant style of BALAMURALIKRISHNA, one of the greatest southern Indian vocalists and the sublime pathos of Thyagaraja’s music.