My latest obsession is MDR's rendering of Tiger Varadachariar's Vachaspathi varnam which was composed in honor of Rukmini Arundale (founder of Kalakshetra) on her birthday. There's an interesting backstory about this varnam as narrated by MDR in his lec-dem on Tiger. Apparently Tiger had promised to compose a varnam for her birthday but had forgotten about it. He suddenly remembered about his promise 3 days before and was scrambling to create a new varnam. The first problem was the raga the varnam was supposed to be in. MDR suggested the usual Bhairavi, Kamboji, etc but Tiger said it has to be grander than that. He said that Rukmini Arundale was a great orator and decided to compose it in Vachaspathi instead. Vachaspathi is not an easy raga to compose a varnam in but it's Tiger's greatness that he was able to compose an absolutely mind-blowing varnam in just a few days. MDR's rendition, of course, is out of this world. Enjoy this varnam!
P: vaNdanamonariNciti vElakoladi
sAshTANgammu mA bhArata lakshmi vANi kin
A: maNdAra dhara pUra arivirim catulu tOshita caritE
mA vara vasaNta mOdini Sri rukmiNiki cirAyu nosagumu
C: aNtamuna kalAkshEtra adhyakshiNi supOshiNi
Things to watch out for:
The start of the Mukthayi swaras itself is out of this world. "Gagga gari"
The way he sings Suposhini in the charanam. Just one sample of how varnams should be sung and not belted out as a warmer like most artists do
The varnam does not just go up and down the scale because it's Vachaspathi. Listen to the Mukthayi swaras closely. The twists and turns are delectable.
I don't think it was easy to sing 2nd speed in this varnam
Again the start of swaras in the charanam - "NidaReeeee Sa". Listen closely. Amazing creativity by the composer here