I bought a legal copy of the much awaited Thiruvasagam in Symphony (TiS) over the weekend and have listened to it twice so far. I must confess that, it is going to take several more (listening) to appreciate this novel attempt by Ilaiyaraaja.
There was lot of buzz around the release of this album. The album itself was released in a high profile ceremony in Chennai attended by the bigwigs of media and the political machinary. That was preceded by the several smaller functions hosted as a curtain raiser to the big event. Both English and Vernacular media gave good coverage of the launch.
It took Ilaiyaraaja & Tamil Maiyam (a not-for-profit organization founded by father Rev. Jegat Gasper Raj to promote research of Tamil Society and Culture) over 3 years to raise funds (about INR 14 million) to bring this album out. Future endeavors like this depend on the financial viability of this one.
Ilaiyaraaja would rather call this as oratorio than a symphony. I looked up what oratorio and it means a long, dramatic musical composition, usually on a religious theme, consisting of arias, recitatives, choruses, etc. sung to orchestral accompaniment but without stage action, scenery, or costumes.
My exposure to Thiruvasagam is very limited. I have only heard “Namashiva Vazhga Nathan Thal Vazha” a few times sung in the traditional way. In his album, Ilaiyaraaja takes about 20 versus from Thiruvasagam renders them in a totally different wayl. It is going to take me a while before the music sinks in.
Regardless, it’s a worthwhile attempt and I applaud Ilaiyaraaja for coming out with this album which according to him is his ‘life’s work’.