Some ever-green performances!!!

!!! IMPORTANT – Read this first !!!

Last update: 30 May, 2020

Any rendition by MDR is already unique and beautiful, but some of them will create such an ever lasting impact on you that you would want to keep hearing them again and again. And, every time you hear, you will get the feeling of “freshness” as you experienced the first time. Here are some more such “ever-green” performances (this is just a small selection, not an exhaustive list) to give you a taste of what MDR has to offer! I am sure I have missed many, many great renditions, but this is my starter list. Please feel free to add yours in the comments. Some of these have already been referred in other pages. Sometimes, the rAgas or krutis repeat. But as I said, I don’t get tired of them, so here they are… 🙂

Excuse the audio issues and quality, and, enjoy the music.

  • Let us start with a varNam – chance to hear a varNam in all its glory is one of the big advantage of an MDR concert. In many concerts, he takes up the aTa tALa varNams and gives them the royal treatment they deserve. Here, “vanajAkSa” (rItigowLa) is treated at its best. Unlike typical concerts, where the varNam comes and goes like a race car, this concert starts in a serene mood!

  • Here is an “MDR viribONi” (may be a tad faster than his some other renditions!) – lot of laya plays, great voice modulations, amazing feel. Great accompaniment too!

  • I consider that kalyANi aTa tALa varNam (vanajAkSi) also has two versions – one is the standard version and the other one is MDR version 🙂 Here is the MDR version! (Audio has some major issues in the beginning, but the content is awesome)

  • MDR could bring a new life to even short renditions (say, starting songs in the concert OR a tukDa) with his unique style of handling sAhitya and swaras. Take this example of “vallabhA nAyakasya” (bEgaDa) at the beginning of a concert – crisp AlApana, nice kruti rendition, a short and sweet (own?) chiTTaswara, and, lovely kalpanAswaras!

  • gajavadana” (hamsadhwani) – short, but sweet AlApanas by both artists, nice kruti rendition in typical MDR style, lovely kalpanAswaras. UKS’s anticipation during kruti rendition and kalpanAswara is amazing!

  • kEdAram by MDR is always special – in addition, this rendition of “AnandanaTana prakAsham” has his typical laya play and his special touches to the lyrics – check out the “bhakti/bhukti mukti“. Some people may have a (wrong) impression that MDR’s music is always slow & sedate, and doesn’t show the “viruviruppu” (bubbling energy); but once you hear the neraval and kalpanAswaras in this rendition, that impression will change 🙂

  • Another rendition to prove the above point – “bhajana sEyave” (kedAram). When one listens to such “thrillers”, one will wonder how he manages to do both the extremes so easily! And these fast renditions are also treated with his special style, and, thus provides a unique listening experience (note areas around “ajapurandarAdulaku“, kalpanAswaras etc).

  • Another kedAram gem (“rAmA nIpai tanaku”) before we move on to other rAgas. Lovely kruti rendition with his special touches, and amazing kalpanAswaras and returns!!!

  • tera tIyagarAdA” (gowLipant) – short and sweet AlApana by both artists; while MDR ends it in a traditional way, MSG does a “la MDR” style ending while following MDR 🙂 The relatively slower pace of the kruti, MDR’s voice modulation and the way accompaniments gel makes this one extraordinarily lovely and soothing!

  • sAmajavaragamana” (hindOLam): MDR in his “electrifying avatar” 🙂 – great sangatis, emphasis (and de-emphasis) on sAhitya at the right places, laya plays… and kalpanAswara is mesmerising!

  • And one more – you will never get tired of this kruti (“sAmajavaragamana“) from MDR – again, excels in every area! To top it, superb returns by MC and unbeatable accompaniment by Trichy Sankaran and K S Manjunath.

  • When MDR takes up a well known kruti, I always look for those unique enhancements that he introduces. Sometimes, they may be subtle, and sometimes, very obvious and amazing. Here is the MDR version of the popular krutimahA gaNapatim manasA smarAmi” (nATTa) – great start, nice sangatis, amazing way to end of pallavi line, first two Avartanas of “mahAdeva sutam“, a “micro Alapana” in between the anupallavi lines, unique way of musicallly phrasing “maha-dEva” – you can find many such small and big embellishments here.

  • Here is a wonderful “vAtApi” (hamsadhwani) – typical kruti rendition, and is filled with his style of sangatis, takes (Eg: around 15:00), amazing kalpanAswaras (especially, note the ending of the landing phrase 🙂 )!

  • Here is another “vAtApi” (hamsadhwani) – again everything is great, has an amaziing neraval in addition to previous rendition, pallavi ending is also lovely. Accompaniment is also excellent. When PMI replicates the vocal part in mrudangam (around 17:10), MDR immediately remarks that he was waiting for the same 🙂

  • Lovely “brindAvana lOla” (tODi) – toDi by MDR is always great. And this rendition has an awesome neravalrAga bhAva, placement words, emphasis on the words all have come together in this neraval. And electric kalpanAswara as well!

  • Sometimes, what is considered as a “fast filler” by most others will take a slightly different form in MDR’s hands – for example, here is a “slowish fast filler” ( 🙂 ) – “padavini” (sAlagabhaiiravi)

  • If you ask me, every rAga and kruti goes through a special transformation in MDR’s hands and one should experience at least once to know how different (and many times amazing) the result is. So, here is a “srI bAlasubrahmaNya” (bilahari) for you – the violinist (LGJ) has matched MDR style during AlApana return and the effect it is lovely, kalpanAswaras from both artists are amazing!

  • One more brilliant bilahari… A slow and serene “nA jIvAdhAra“. Unfortunately, the sound of violin is not great. The way mrudangam (UKS) is aiding the build up during the start of the kruti is amazing!!!

  • When MDR sings rAgas like “pantuvarALi“, I get a very unique feel which cannot be transcribed into words. It can only be experienced. Here is an amazing rendition, with a unique treatment from the master!

  • For me, dhanyAsi is a haunting rAga and MDR’s version of it is one of the best for I have heard! The AlApana is amazing and so is the ultra slow rendition of the famous “shyAma sundarAnga“. There are multiple goosebump sections in the AlApana and kruti rendition (For example, check around 38:03. You can pick many more!)

  • A “must hear” kIravANi AlApana for “kaligiyuntE“. The way MDR builds up the AlApana slowly and using short phrases is lovely. Though it is only for around 11 minutes, after hearing it, one will get a feel of a grand AlApana. And at the end of the AlApana, how he ends at tAra sthAyi S – beautiful! Rest of the rendition is also nice, as always.

  • Another kaligiyuntE for you! Great AlApana (the voice modulations at some of the tAra stAyi segments are awesome!), lovely kruti rendition. And this is one of those few instances where MDR has gone for a detailed kuraippu 🙂

  • MDR’s sahAna is always special to me as I feel that his voice and style suits this rAga. One of his extensive rendition of this kruti is present at the below link. A very soothing AlApana and the bass rich sound and sahAna produces such a great effect! The violin return, especially the beginning mirrors his style so nicely, adding to the overall beauty. The kruti is rendered in moderate pace and in his typical style. He prefixes “rAmuni” and “srIrAmuni” to “guri tApaka” nicely. A concise sketch of sahAna can be read from his ending of pallavi after the initial round of sangati’s. The take on “parivArulu” is also interesting. The inItial slow swara patterns show the sahAna very beautifully. (For the full concert, refer here)

  • Here is a varALi (“mAmava mInAkSi“) – heavy rAgas like these are safe in MDR’s hands. The heaviness of his voice nicely compliments the rAga characteristics. Unfortunately, the rendition is incomplete, but still, worth listening!

  • sItapatE” (kamAs) – everything is amazing in this rendition, especially the neraval and swaras! The way he starts the AlApana in a “bubbling” manner fits the character of the rAga so nicely. Note how he handles “tyAgarAja” 🙂

  • Another kamAs – “brOcEvArevarurA” : short AlApana, great return by LGJ, his unique style of rendition (there are some interesting bits from around 1:15:00, don’t lose attention 🙂 ). Note the way both MDR and LGJ builds things up for around 30 seconds at around 1:21:00 – MDR in his style, and LGJ in his style!!! Anticipation of percussion artists is also awesome 🙂

  • nATTakkurinji is a rAga that gives a “rustic” feel to me. And when I hear MDR’s detailed version, it feels amazinig! So, here is a wonderful “manasu viSaya” – great AlApana and kruti rendition.

  • An awesome “El(A)vatAram(e)ttukoNTivi” – mukhAri! This is another of my favourite rAgas. Love the slow and sedate start to the AlApana and the gradual build up! Violin return is also lovely. kruti rendition is awesome too!

  • A classy rAmapriya – “kOrina varam“. Nice and detailed treatment. When there is a chance to do some variation in the sAhitya and bring it out differently than originally intended, MDR cannot miss it! Check around 1:14:00 and the way he is reacting to his own effort 🙂

  • Hear an amazing madhyamAvati – “pAlinchu kAmAkSi“. rAga build up and exploration so carefully and delicately done!!!

  • madhyamAvati is one of those rAgas that I like a lot, and MDR can make it extra special! So, here is one more rendition of the same!

  • MDR’s version of “mEru samAna” (mAyAmALavagowla) has left such a long lasting impression on me that no other version is able to generate a similar impact. In the rendition below, the way he starts the kruti gives me goosebumps every time I hear it. The accompaniment is also lovely!

  • Here is an MDR bhairavi (“tanayuni brOva“) for you! The way MDR builds up the rAga is so wonderful. Unfortunately, the audio becomes bad as the rendition progresses 🙁

  • One can never get tired of MDR’s bhairavi! So, here is another one – “brOvavamma“! Great build up of AlApana. And, Syama Sastri krutis have a charm of their own, which MDR knows how to extract to the fullest!

  • MDR’s “heavy” voice was a perfect match for the “heavy” krutis of Muttuswami Dikshitar, and the combination almost always produced great results. For example, take this lovely “kmalAmbAm bhaja rE” (kalyANi)- lovely AlApana, kruti rendition, and sprinkled liberally with “MDR touches”!

  • Another rAga that always gets mentioned when people talk about MDR is rItigowla. The way he treats this rAga is amazing. The krutidwaitamu sukhamA” is one of the deeply philosophical krutis written by Tyagaraja. And this rAga, kruti and MDR is the perfect combination. Here is a short rendition of the same. Check some of the slow oscillations towards the end of the AlApana! The start of the kruti and some of the takes during the rendition are amazing. The slow swaras also add beauty to the rendition.

  • MDR’s detailed treatment of the some of the common krutis is a treat to listen! When you hear the MDR version for the first time, you will wonder “Can this kruti be sung like this also? Wow!” and after hearing the MDR version for few times, the thought will change to “This is how the kruti is supposed to be sung!” 🙂 Hear this detailed treatment of “brOcEvArevarE” (srIranjini).

  • Now, take the case of “sogasugA mrudanga tALamu” (srIranjini) – here is a slow and serene rendition of the same. The build up of AlApana and kruti, with ample support from co-artists is beautiful and the kalapanAswaras are amazing too!

  • As mentioned above, sometimes, MDR treats a kruti from a completely fresh perspective, resulting in a a very different feel. See how is treating “dorakuNa” in the below concert:

  • pancharatna kIrtanais are generally sung in a “standard” format and generally singers try to be conservative with their handling of these krutis. But, when MDR takes them up for rendering, you can always look forward to something different/new. Here is a “jagadAnandakAraka” (nATTa) for you – amazing AlApana and refreshing rendition – listen and enjoy the novelties 🙂

  • Many rAgas shine in MDR’s hands and srI is one of them. In this concert, prior to starting the rAga AlApana, MDR had a relatively long discussion about the choice of rAga and concludes at the end by saying something like “smallest name, but the biggest rAga” 🙂 What a lovely AlApana and rendition (of “nAma kusuma“).

  • Another rendition of srI to illustrate the point. Getting a good recording of MDR is difficult and when one can find such a concert with srI, it is going to give you goosebumps! Here, he is rendering “vanajAsana“.

  • Anandabhairavi is yet another rAga that gels nicely with MDR’s style. What a sublime AlApana! And check how he is ending it!!! A very slow and serene rendition of “mAnasa guruguha” follows.

  • tODi is another rAga suited for his voice! The strong bass-filled voice can bring out the power of this rAga very nicely. Here is an amazing “koluvamare gada“. Short AlApana, characteristic kruti rendition (note the tempo change at charaNam, handling of “tambUra jEkoni” etc.), lovely neraval and kalpanAswara (with a kuraippu)!

  • Another famous Tyagaraja tODi kruti – “kaddanu vAriki“. Short AlApana, lovely kruti rendition with lot of MDR-isms – check the embellishments at “buddhi“, “suddhamaina” etc., there are some interesting takes in pallavi & also at “niddura nirAkarinchi“. Another kalpanAswara with kuraippu!

  • Another unforgettable tODi – “ninnE namminAnu“. Lot of amazing moments in this rendition. During the AlApana, check the oscillations around 2:00, similarly, the movements around 6:30 are also lovely. The rendition is slow and rich with the right bhAva that the kruti demands. The embellishments during pallavi repetitions and anupallavi are beautiful. Around 25:30, when he starts “shyAmakriSNa“, i get goosebumps! The start of neraval is again amazing and at one point, he just plays with individual syllables in a slow manner, and changing swarasthAna – typical MDR stuff. The best part for me is the start of kalpanAswara at around 38:10. What a start with G, R & S!!! The impact that MDR is creates with such a start is not replicable, as per me. First 2 minutes are just S,R and G! Accompaniment is great too, MDR is seen appreciating that at different points in the rendition.

  • tODi has been considered as one of the most versatile and “big” rAga, it has been explored at length and breadth by various artists. Every other rendition of this rAga can bring out some new aspect of this rAga. So, here is an RTP in tODi! The accompaniment by MSG is also top-notch!

  • Many times, MDR’s treats shLokas elaborately and almost like a main/sub-main item. Different rAgas are used to explore the lyrics and there may be some interactions on the relevance of lyrics as well. Here is a wonderful instance where he takes almost 25 minutes for a shLoka and it is lovely as usual!

  • Here is another instance of a detailed exploration of shLoka. Usage of voice modulation to bring out the bhAva of the lyrics is a notable point in MDR’s shLoka renditions and this is a great example for the same. And, as usual, there are remarks in between, and some explanation 🙂

  • bhAvayAmi raghurAmam” is one of MDR’s favourite kruti where he puts his heart and soul! One can witness a lot of his unique style elements in this. Here is a ~25 minute rendition with standard MDR-isms like laya play, word play, dialogues etc.

  • MDR takes as much care when rendering tukDas as he does for a main item. There is no hurry, and rAga and sAhitya are given the required importance. The standard pauses and emphasis will be still there as well. For example, take this “paripAlaya” (rItigowla) – lovely rendering! He also tries to sing most of the charaNams of this kruti:

  • A slow kApi (“vA vA murugA“) – own kruti. As usual, is filled with lovely pauses, beautiful passages and some interruptions! The emphasis on “vA” is interesting. The accompaniment is also very beautiful.

  • An awesome “varugalAmO” (mAnji) – this is a kruti which has got very delicate treatment from MDR. The way he modulates his voice and brings out the bhAVa of the kruti is amazing. Can never get tired of listening to this!

  • And after all these amazing performances, here is a lullaby to calm you down 🙂 Even though MDR’s voice was typically heavy, when singing such delicate krutis, one can feel the softness – “rAma rAma” (nIlAmbari)!

  • This kApi tillAna is an example of how coordination among the artists can bring out a unique experience! MDR has admitted that UKS was one of his favourite co-artist and UKS here is in sublime form – great anticipation, lovely patterns & strokes and no over-banging!!!

Many times, MDR ended the concert after a tillAna and similarly, this list is also going to end here. But, unlike his concerts which end with an elaborate mangaLam, this list is going to end with two of his greatest renditions!

When you hear MDR sing the swarajati (and some other Syama Sastri compositions), one will get a feeling that there were “made for each other” 🙂 These compositions are grand and need to be treated appropriately to get the maximum musical effect. And MDR’s style – voice, kAlapramANa, emphasising the right parts, treatment of nuances etc – exactly suited these requirements.

  • Take the case of the below bhairavi swarajati from one of his concerts. Starting at around 43:00 in the following concert, you can hear one of the best bhairavi AlApana and rendition of  swarajati (personally for me, the best that I have heard!).
    • The way he starts the AlApana with the strong base voice with slow oscillations itself gives you goosebumps! Then, he slowly builds up the rAga phrase by phrase. At the same time, nothing is overdone. There are no high-decibel, high-speed long passages. Everything is measured and weighty. AlApana takes just around 7 minutes only, but after hearing it, you feel you have heard a “full” one!
    • The treatment given to the kruti is, again, top class. The variations that he brings in, by placing the swaras and words are amazing. At the right points, he also adds his own small additions which adds to the meaning.
    • When you think that he is done, he breaks into kalpanAswara. Even after hearing so much of swaras during the swarajati rendition, one does not feel excess as this feels different. He starts with very short swara phrases and builds it up into large swara sections and concludes it with a lovely passage.

  • entharO mahAnubhAvulu!!! What more to say?

… and adieu.