Monday, April 16, 2012
Whenever I come across an album of international music that carries a tag that reads something like "first time released outside of place non-western country name here" I admittedly get rather excited. Even after years of full of some primo disappointments I always dive head first. Luckily T.R. Mahalingam deserves all the excitement my anticipation can muster. It's also the second album EM Records has released of his work so people must be digging in.
India's T.R. Mahalingam has left behind a legacy & influence over Carnatic music that no other flautist has been able to match since his death in 1986. His technical & melodic abilities were acclaimed throughout during Mahalingam's lifetime, shortly before his death in 1986 India awarded him the Padma Bhushan.
This compilation of recordings dating from the 1940's - 50's find Mahalingam, accompanied by T. Chowdiah (on violin) and Palghat Mani Iver (on mridangam), in fine form. "Suki Evaro pt. 1" is a frenetic composition that utilizes a constantly moving flute melody that does much to cement Mahalingam's unique flute styling, that many have compared to being almost as expressive as the human voice, with clusters of notes flowing to & fro. "Paramaathmudo pt. 1" is a more subdued affair where Mahalingam mixes extended tones & drones without sacrificing the melody he is unfolding.
There is a definite air of playfulness to this music as well that is totally unique. Mahalingam never lets virtuosity trump the expressiveness & spiritual nature of this music. If only every international reissue taunted with such honors was so rich & moving.
T.R. Mahalingam's Portrait Of A Prodigy is available on LP & CD now via EM Records.