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Navarasa Thillana
A musical Odyssey exploring the Navarasas
Sreevalsan J Menon, in his quest for expressing the depth and essence of each Rasa, efficaciously blends aesthetic sensibility and artistic creativity in this thematic album. Music normally relies on melody and verse to convey any Rasa. Sreevalsan proves his innovative mettle with the adoption of Thillanas, which sparingly use verses but mostly use rhythmic patterns and musical syllables, as the main vehicle to portray the Rasas. Raga choice, contemporary orchestration and versatile vocals in varying tonal colours aid the artist to skillfully weave the appropriate Rasa into each of the Thillanas.
Composers : Lalgudi Jayaraman, Veena Sheshanna, Tirugokarnam Vaidhyanatha Iyer, MD Ramanathan, Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi, Swathi Thirunal, Sreevalsan J Menon & Ajithkumar (Instrumental)

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CD's are available at all leading music stores in Kerala.

It was on a balmy evening of a new year’s eve somewhere in the 90’s that Neyyattinkara Vasudevan presented a young student of his to the cognoscenti of the Music Academy at Chennai. The concert, which was much remembered in the annals of this musical Mecca, had Vasudevan once again showcase the brilliance of his unique bhava-laden style which was moving just as it was enthralling! But the concert was also memorable on another score – the quiet confidence that Vasudevan reposed in this young student, allowing him to partner the veteran in his creative journey. Sreevalsan Menon, then in his twenties, received the baton from his Guru and proved himself as a devout inheritor to his master's style. Rasikas still remember the majesty of the Mukhari that Vasudevan laid foundation to, on which his young Sishya built delicate embellishments to create a monument in raga delineation.
Vasudevan, or Neyyattinkara, as he is always affectionately referred to, follows a “centrist” style of Carnatic music in which he draws as much from the stolidity of classicism of the “Semmangudi bani” as he does from the inspired and imaginative ‘searches’ of the Ramnad style. While he is a stickler of padanthara, he has been equally influenced by the ruminative and soulful music of the two venerated classical musicians hailing from Kerala, the late M.D. Ramanathan and K.V. Narayanaswamy. And arguably, It was the prodigious influence of these two innovators of tradition which helped Vasudevan give a complete new musical imagery to the magnificence of many a Swathi Thirunal composition.
It was a chance meeting at All India Radio that Sreevalsan – then a serious student of agriculture at Trivandrum – had with Vasudevan that initiated an enriching bond between the master and the student. Like all great gurus, Vasudevan did not merely refashion the aesthetics of music for his students but altered paradigmatically their worldview of art itself. He has been guru in the deepest Indian sense, letting his disciples know the need to ‘interpret’ as distinct from ‘parroting’ and teaching them the requisite skill to braid grammar and text along the lifeline of rasa!
Sreevalsan spent long hours, in near gurukulavasam, at his master’s residence imbibing nuances, listening, perceiving and exploring the music of the old masters as well as trying to understand the spirit and musical ethos of the compositions that his master was slowly ushering him into. It is from Vasudevan that Sreevalsan learnt the importance of restrain as a worthy counterpoint to imagination, and that the weight of emotion needs to be tempered by the economy of concert requirements. He also discerned that phraseology in a raga is as important to artistry as Bhava is, to connect with the mystical core of the form.
Vasudevan opened his mind not merely to the greatness of the carnatic tradition but also exposed Valsan to the meditative explorations of the Hindustani style as well as the purity of native sopana music. Sometimes, he would surprise his students with his observations on daily life and nature and the need to keep the mind impressionable to all the beauty that surrounds us. These, he would say, in their own silent way also enrich the fecundity of art. The artist has in essence to ‘live a life worthy of art’ and not merely be a chronicler of received information.
Courtesy, Karun Menon

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