Over the past fifty years the LALGUDI family has gradually affirmed its position as one of the key reference points of Carnatic music whose thousand-year-old tradition is a cornerstone of Southern Indian culture. Already in our series dedicated to the great interpreters of Indian classical music we have had occasion to present a recording by the violinist LALGUDI G JAYARAMAN (Singing Violins, fy 8094), accompanied by his children Lalgudi G J R Krishnan and Lalgudi J Vijayalakshmi, whose own successive Bow to the Violins (fy 8105) represented a sort of creative “emancipation” from parental tutelage. On his new CD Violin Soul the amazing musicianship of LALGUDI G JAYARAMAN is once again very much to the fore. His proverbial technical mastery is everywhere matched by a subtlety of interpretation and a rich vein of invention that are fruit of innate instinct combined with decades of rigorous study. Of the four tracks on Violin Soul, three represent an homage to one of the legends of Carnatic music, Thyagaraja (1767-1847), who enjoys an almost saint-like reverence in Southern India as author of over six hundred kritis, a genre of hymn that is regarded as fundamental to the individual’s spiritual enlightenment. On “Chemthene Sadha” LALGUDI G JAYARAMAN brings out the evocative spirit and timbral shadings of a lovely piece whose overall atmosphere is one of relaxed sentimentality, while on “Ninnuvina Sukhamugaana, Neeraja Nayana”, widely considered one of Thyagaraja’s masterpieces, he shows great mastery in transposing the words of the song to his violin strings, giving rise to a gorgeous melody. “Pariyaachakama”, a kind of plea to the Godhead is another standout track, that flutters about in a chiaroscuro of sudden melodic and rhythmic shifts. LALGUDI G JAYARAMAN, performing here in symbiosis with his violinist son Lalgudi G J R Krishnan, brings out the dramatic power and expressivity of the piece. Closing the CD is “Kamalaambaam”, another classic this time by Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1775-1835) on which LALGUDI G JAYARAMAN launches into a thirty minute instrumental cavalcade, proving once again his ability to modulate his violin to imitate the sound of the human voice. Notable here is the rhythmic support provided by percussionists Karaikkudi Mani (mridangam) and T.H. Vinayakram (ghatam).