By S. Sivaramkrishnan
Those were really golden times of ‘savouring’ Lalgudi Jayaraman’s violin accompaniment for stalwarts in the divine environs of the Navaratri Mandapam at Trivandrum from the 1960s through the eighties. I found his support ‘caring and committed’ for Alathur Srinivasa Iyer, ‘elegant and enchanting’ for Palghat K V Narayanaswamy and so on. None could drift from his sruti-laya anchor and it was sheer delight when Palghat Mani Iyer was on the mridangam. With practically ‘nil amplification’ inside the Mandapam, music of the highest order soaked the oil lamp-lit precincts. Clad in ‘temple dress’ (as we describe it) and sporting his characteristic smile, Lalgudi exuded confidence and offered the best music. My only disappointment is that there was no MDR-Lalgudi combination at the Mandapam.
I also used to go to the Bhajanapura Palace to see the great vidwans at leisure and found Lalgudi relishing every moment of his stay at the vintage venue.
My father often recollected Musiri’s grand rendering of Smarahari padaravindam (a stellar composition of Swati Tirunal in Sama) at the Mandapam with Lalgudi. Belonging to the next generation, I never had the luck to hear it from Lalgudi at any time even in his solos. But I was really moved when a slice of the song was aired for a few seconds in the Regional News bulletin of AIR, Chennai, when the station reported the news of his demise. Though it was too late, I felt relieved to know that a recording was still available with AIR and that I could listen to the full complement of the song sometime. Will you kindly oblige, AIR?