Cerebral Shangrila

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Thiruvachagam Oratorio-- Review

" Thiruvaasagathukku urugaar oru vasagathukkum urugaar" .These words can never be more true.The album is vintage Raja. Illayaraja stradles with ease a Classical cross-over of Western Classical and Carnatic music.

The Album contains six songs/tracks.

1. Poovaar Senni Mannan ( Singer : Illayaraja & Chorus) : The album starts with the song " Poovaar Senni Mannan", which has booming choruses and soulful singing by Illayaraja.A great start to the Album.
2.Pollaa Vinayen ( Singers : Illayaraja,Ray Harcourt) : This is the crown jewel of the Album.Its a lengthy piece with lyrics in both English & Tamil. Stunning composition and excellent orchestration.Raja oozes with emotion in this song.
3. Pooerukonum Purantharanum ( Singers : Illayaraja,Bavatharini) : A melodious song with a strong carnatic base. It resembles one of those "sweet" raja duets.
4. Umbarkatkarasaey ( Singer : Illayaraja) : Another Soulful number.Wonderful singing and excellent orchestration.
5. Muthu Natramam ( Singers :Unnikrishnan, Madhu Balakrishnan,VijayJesudas,Manjari,Asha,Gayathri & Chorus) : A very "chirpy" song with wonderful chorus.
6. Puttril Vazh Aravum Anjen : Raja's tribute to Manickavasagar. The song has nice "wordy" interludes in the beginning .

The "Thiruvachagam" is a must buy for music lovers and hope Raja continues such musical endeavors in the future.To paraphrase one of raja's film songs " Raja Kayya vecha adhu raanga ponadhillai".This is definitely a stunning fusion of Western Classical & Carnatic music. I bow to his genius.

Here is an FAQ on Thiruvachagam I wrote to help all music lovers :

What is Thiruvachagam ?
Thiruvaachagam is a collection of classical hymns on Lord Shiva written by the poet saint Manickavasagar.
What is unique about this album ?
This is the first Indian Classical Oratorio .
Who are the peope behind this initiative ?
Thiruvachagam is the dream project of Music Maestro Illayaraja. The project was supported by Tamil Maiyam,which is dedicated to anthropological research and promoting arts and culture.
What is unique about the music ?
It is a two-hour symphonic singing with 100 chorus singers joining in for the performance in English and Tamil. The project has some of the best people in the Industry behind it. Apart from the composer Illayaraja, the symphony has been conducted by Laszlo Kovacs(Hungary'sbest known conductor) and played by the Budapest Symphony Orchestra( A 100 year old group and the only complete professional orchestraof Hungary).Richard King ( sound engineer for five grammy winning productions) is the Sound engineer and Stephen Schwartz ( Lyricist for double grammy award winning "Godspell") has written the english lyrics.
Who is Illayaraja ?
I am sure no south Indian will dare ask this question. Illayaraja is one of the most prolific composers of South India and has composed music for more than 750 films in the last three decades.He is a two-time winner of the National award and winner of numerous state awards.His non-film albums include the classical based " How to name it" & " Nothing but Wind" .

P.S : One sincere request. Please do not download this album illegally from the internet or trade mp3's. Projects like these should be encouraged. Cassettes are priced at Rs.50 and the CD's cost Rs.150 ( I bought a CD).The CD also contains the lyrics boklet. To quote Illayaraja, " My only request is listeners should not download `Thiruvachagam' from the net or go in for MP3 and the like. If they feel that my music has given them at least a little pleasure, they should buy authentic audios. I say this because `Thiruvachagam' has to find a market, if such ventures are to continue"
If this venture is successful, there are plans to undertake symphony projects of other famous tamil hymns like Thirukkural & Devaram.Let the musical journey continue and flourish !


  • Thanks for the review. Will listen to it as soon as I can lay my hands on the CD.

    By Blogger Kaps, at 3:27 PM  

  • Raja's melodious tribute to Natraja...

    Have already bought it... yet to hear...

    By Blogger Neodawn, at 4:13 PM  

  • CD is for Rs150....thats interesting...the price is affordable....

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 AM  

  • Thank you Sir...didn't know about the Chorus by Unni / Madhu and group. I am waiting for the CD to arrive. Thanks for the review.

    Hats off to Ilayraja and the group that made this great piece of work a reality.

    By Blogger Narayanan Venkitu, at 3:50 AM  

  • Wish someone comes up with something similar for the "Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam" of the Vaishnava Saints - the Azhwars :-)

    By Blogger Krish, at 11:53 AM  

  • may be this would fetch him a grammy... what category would this be in if it is even considered for one?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:19 PM  

  • anything related to illayraja has to be magical.

    If someone doesn't agree to this then he may be as good as being deaf.

    By Blogger Srikar, at 11:02 PM  

  • Three things that could make you sleep after a hectic day.

    1) warm shower bath
    2) meditation
    3) music

    Definitely Ilaiyaraja's melodies are part of the 3rd category.

    Thanks for the info.

    By Blogger Tisai, at 5:49 AM  

  • I am gonna listen to this for the 35th time. Cant get enof

    By Blogger Harish, at 6:57 AM  

  • All -- Great music. Worth all the wait.

    By Blogger Cogito, at 2:37 PM  

  • Till now I have listened to it for nearly 40 time.
    Just one word. Amazing.

    By Blogger RvK, at 7:18 AM  

  • With Thiruvasagam Ilaiyaraja has become Maharaja! This is amongst the very best of world music.

    Eagerly awaiting announcements about his next project. Is it going to be the Divya Prabandham?

    By Blogger Vijay Krishna Narayanan, at 9:17 PM  

  • Thatz Great!!

    I'm a very crazy fan of Illayaraj's music. I often hear his "NOTHING BUT WIND"... itz soo soothing...

    Anyways, Where can i order a cassette or a CD online, as i stay in the US. I'm desperately waiting to hear his "Thiruvaachagam"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:08 AM  

  • Thatz Great!!

    I'm a very crazy fan of Illayaraj's music. I often hear his "NOTHING BUT WIND"... itz soo soothing...

    Anyways, Where can i order a cassette or a CD online, as i stay in the US. I'm desperately waiting to hear his "Thiruvaachagam"

    By Blogger Geetha Sriram, at 12:08 AM  

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