If you are looking for something fresh from the world of classical and fusion, you have stumbled upon the right album. Veena in Vienna is the first offering of Chennai based veena virtuoso Punya Srinivas. This humble looking lady has completed over 5000 recordings on the veena, displaying complete control over the instrument along with several of her own developed skills.
This album is a rendition of a number of compositions written especially for the artist by 7 composers except two tracks, Veena in Vienna is by JS Bach and Mad Mod Mood Fugue by Ilaiyaraaja.
Veena in Vienna as the title suggests is a syncopated alliance of Indian and western influences with supportive collaboration from some excellent musicians, composers and technicians. Though the main focus of this album is on the veena some interesting platters have been presented with other instruments as well. A special mention also needs to be made of the work done by the various guitarists on this album. The arrangement done in the album is vague to profound. The number of arrangers and musicians used on this album could be the reason behind this.
‘Global Gear’ composed arranged by Stephen Devassy is the first track to the album. A wonderful track that has diverse related elements flowing through a number of segments of the track. This forms the body with the Venna orchestrating the melody that chains this all together. Apart from fantastic work on the veena, Punya also displays her ability to dispense ragas with as much ease.
‘Hot Winter’ is composed and arranged by Sharreth. The track is a ballad of a number of melodies put together going through various twists and turns. The constant shift in the groove of the song makes it sound like a movie soundtrack and less of a song.
‘Veena is Vienna’ – E major Sonata composed by JS Bach is the best track of the album. Veena is a classical traditional instrument with 7 strings with 4 used for playing and 3 for drone. As Indian music is mainly based on vocal tradition, there is a reliance on only those octaves that is achievable vocally hence the third and fourth’s string use is minimized. In western music, written form of composition has allowed used of a more diverse pitch range. Punya Srnivas has tried to integrate this aspect into the veena by adapting and performing the violin part of the western music great JS Bach. She has been quite successful in doing so too.
‘Piece for Punya’ composed by V.S.Naramsimhan and arranged by Navin Iyer & Bharanidharan. This track has a traditional Indian groove playing alongside some funky break beat style beats. An orchestra of instruments such as flute, saxophone and guitar accompany the veena on this one. ’Metamorphosis’ – symphonic Variations composed by Vivekananda. This track has a mystic atmospheric gloomy overtone created from the veena and orchestra. The main theme is a group of six notes with which the composer has created the track with symphonic treatment. The centre section of the movement is built on atonal and tweleve note serial languages.
Next is a chillout tune with a reggae rhythm composed and arranged by Nivas Prasanna called ‘On Cloud Nine’. Punya Srinivas is wonderful in adapting to the change and has complimented with well. It is interesting what moods and emotions are presented with fusion of diverse styles and cultures. It helps break the associative moulds to catch the glimpse of the other or not ‘know’. ‘Mad Mod Mood Fugue’ is composed by on of the renowned musicians of India Ilaiyaraja. A rock rendition of the track gives an upbeat feel to it. Fans of the growing folk rock scene in India check this one.
All in all a fresh vibrant album. A must listen for connoisseurs of the new and different.