I dischi di angelica, Modena, 2005
Audio CD, 7657", IDA 021, Price:
Reviewed by Stefaan Van Ryssen
Jan Delvinlaan 115, 9000 Gent, Belgium
With 7000 songs for some 400 films, Alaiyaraaja
must be one of the most prolific composers
of any time. Even Georg Philipp Telemann
who is supposedly the record holder for
werkverzeichnis numbers didnt
get this far. But then, Telemann didnt
write for the Bollywood movie industry
as Maestro A. does.
Alaiyaraaja brought a group of 16 experienced
musicians to the Teatro Comunale di Modena
(Modena City Theatre) on May 14, 2004
to give an event-concert for the 14th
edition of Angelica, Festival Internazionale
di Musica. The concert was recorded and
published by the Festival. An understandable
move, if the enthusiastic laughter, shouting
and clapping on the CD is genuine. The
audience must have loved the musicIll
explain whyand the semi-ironic
comment the composer added himself (in
English, but everything is nicely translated
in Italian for your pleasure).
So what is Ilayaraajas Music Journey
about? Nothing. Or, to be more precise,
nothing more than any thirteen-in-a-dozen
pop album from a moderately successful
Western pop group. Except maybe for the
virtuoso singing (by As daughter
Bhavatharini among others), the tabla
and violin accompaniment and the clearly
Indian (Carnatic) source of the timbre
and the melodies.
Of the fourteen tracks on the CD, twelve
are absolute jewels of trivial tragic
and heroic love songs, extremely well
arranged and performed but nothing more.
The melodies are smooth, smoother, and
smoothest, the arrangements nice, nicer,
and nicest: everything is superlative.
And so are the flimsyness, the unnecessity
and the shallowness.
So what was presumably the point of publishing
this CD? We must assume that there is
an audience for this kind of crossover.
People who are, for whatever reasons,
interested in Indian popular culture and
who want to get acquainted with the music
of one of its most successful exponents.
We must also assume that some people may
think this is the ultimate fusion between
East and West (which in some ways it is,
but then only between Western mindlessness
and Eastern commercial acuity). And dont
forget the music and even the composers
name have a nice New Age ring to it!
I cant help wondering why ReR Megacorpthe
distributor of this CDsent
this one to Leonardo Digital Review.
This is supposed to be a journal dealing
with the crossover of art, science and
technology, isnt it? I cant
imagine they have only seen crossover
and missed the other keywords . . .