Friday April 17, 2009

Music review: Vismaya – An Indo Celtic Musical Journey (Kanniks Kannikeswaran)

Posted by Karthik

Vismaya is perhaps the earliest, documented Indo-Western musical collaboration – a fascinating combination of Sanskrit lyrics set to Celtic tunes, by one of India’s foremost composers, Muthuswami Dikshidhar (1775-1835). It’s utterly fascinating to even start thinking about what would have gone in Dikshidhar’s mind when he heard the tunes first while they were played by British bands at Fort St. George, Madras. Incredibly, he was enamored enough to create 39 compositions, all set to the carnatic raagam, Sankarabharanam, now referred to as Nottuswara Sahityas. More than the painstaking research behind recollecting these tracks, the man behind this 2 CD compilation, Kanniks Kannikeswaran shows incredible ingenuity in the choice of singer – his 13 year old daughter, Vidita! Vidita’s magical voice reign over the tracks, even as Kanniks’ sparklingly minimal orchestration sets the tone for every track beautifully. Vidita’s diction, in particular, is so overwhelmingly pristine that the tracks in Sanskrit, despite the language barrier, sound heavenly! This is a compilation like no other – a rare and heartfelt effort that catalogs one of the most interesting milestones in Indian musical history. And a collection that conclusively proves that music is beyond any language and is a language on its own!

Keywords: Kanniks Kannikeswaran, Vidita Kanniks, Vismaya – An Indo Celtic Musical Journey, Muthuswami Dikshidhar, Nottuswara Sahityas

Notes:
1. Thanks to my friend, Narasimman Jayaraman, who informed me about this compilation, almost 2 years back.
2. Thanks to Chennai-based record label, Nadham Music Media, for making this amazing 2 CD compilation available in India. And for having an e-commerce enabled website that allows easy purchase!

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