This CD contains nineteen of the so-called nottuswara sahityams composed by the illustrious Karnatic Vaggeyakara Muthuswamy Dikshitar These are compositions employing a very simple structure, set in the karnatic ragam sankarabharanam, but tuned to various Western melodies, again in simple talas (rhythmic patterns). A total of 39 nottuswara sahityams are available in print, but these songs are not often heard in concerts in South India. Moreover, their recordings are also not easy to find.
The producer of this CD, Shri Kanniks Kannikeswaran deserves all praise for his genuine attempt to bring this rare treat to the listeners of Karnatic music, as well as Western music. I have listened to the CD a few times, and I enjoyed every bit of it. A hearty Congratuations to Kanniks, his daughter Vidita, and the entire musical team, on a superb job, very well executed.
The voice of Vidita is sweet and clear; also her sanskrit pronounciation is impeccable and crisp. For a 12 year girl growing up in U.S, this is a remarkable achievement. The various instrumental ensembles, either individually, or collectively, have contributed to the further enjoyment, and all have done their job very well.
The cover jacket - the theme is very catchy, and truly Indian in concept, and I liked it very much. Also, the title "vismaya" for this venture is well-chosen, and is very apt for the material. The various celtic drawings reflect the true spirit of the theme of the CD, and are indeed very nice.
The sleeve notes - for the benefit of the listener, the lyrics of the various compositions are typed neatly, with all diacritical marks properly placed. I noticed 'sh' is used for the characters. (as shanmukha , dikshita, etc), where the standard practice is to place a dot under the character s. But again, these are left to the choice of the individual, and these observations are minor and unimportant.
I also notice the lyric of "paahi durge" omitted, since it was rendered only on the instrument, and not sung vocally. The inclusion of the lyrics would enhance the listening pleasure.
All in all, my conclusion is that is a very enjoyable recording, and I have all praise for this venture. Shri Kanniks has done a yeoman serves to the listening community, by attempting to popularize these rare Western melodies, composed some 200 years ago, by a saintly karnatic composer, who lived in a remote corner of South India.
We eagerly await the release of the second CD, that hopefully will contain the remaining 20 of the nottuswara sahityams, thus providing the listener with a complete library of these valuable compositions, sung in the very style the composer would have wanted them to be rendered.
Listen to Vismaya
Dr. P. P. Narayanaswami (Canada)