from the Ratnayakes
The two Ratnayakes – Victor and Pradeep – leading personalities in Sri Lanka's music scene, not only gave two scintillating performances recently, but also gave music fans something to take back home. Victor's latest CD titled 'Gehenu Lamayine' – described as a collection of affectionate songs ('prema geetavaliya') was released the day he had his latest concert. Pradeep offered his fans the first DVD featuring his last live performance at the BMICH.
Victor's CD celebrates his musical career spanning 45 years. Over this long period he has entertained us as a singer, music director and composer, contributing in no small measure to the enrichment of Sinhala music. He has always maintained the highest traditions and is a vociferous critic of those who try to 'rape' Sinhala music in the name of 'rap'.
'Gehenu Lamayine' is a fine collection of 20 songs Victor has been singing over the years. Even as a regular listener over the past 30 years or more, I had forgotten some of the songs in the CD. Victor insists, however, that they were all numbers he had sung earlier. He has rendered each one of them afresh using the latest technology. His voice is still flawless and has the same freshness we have been used to over four decades. He has given a new look to some of the numbers by adding a bit of rhythm but has consciously not altered the structure. 'Gehenu Lamayine' (from Sumitra Peries' 1978 film, 'Gehenu Lamayi'), for example, has now got a faster beat more than what was rendered originally when Nimal Mendis directed the music. It's beautiful.
Victor's CD is also a tribute to some of our leading lyricists. In his collection are creations by Ajantha Ranasinghe, Kumaradasa Saputanthri, Professor Sunil Ariyaratne, Deltota Chandrapala, J.A. Camillus ('Gehenu lamayine' has his lyrics), Premakirthi de Alwis, K.D.K. Dharmawardena, Augustus Vinayagaratnam and Gamini Fonseka. 'Ahimi unath numba lande' was one of the very few songs written by Gamini amidst his busy career as an actor/director.
Ever since Victor began his solo performance 'Sa' way back in 1973, he has added a new dimension to the local music scene.
Pradeep at home
What a rare treat to have Pradeep Ratnayake at home! For us who have enjoyed his Pradeepanjalee over the past few years, the DVD is a windfall. Torana Music Box has done an excellent job in producing a high quality product, a fitting tribute to the maestro. 'Pradeepanjalee 12' performed a few months back at the BMICH has been captured so well. It is indeed "a magical place of sound where the classical, folk, pop, rock and jazz meet", as the blurb on the DVD cover states.
In addition to Pradeep, we meet some of our leading artistes via the DVD. There is Lakshman Joseph de Saram playing the violin whose 'dialogues' with Pradeep are a delight. One cannot miss Harsha Makalanda on the piano and Alston Joachim on the bass guitar who have constantly appeared with Pradeep in his performances. Ravibandu (Kandyan drum & pakavaj) Nesan Thiyagarajah (mridangam) and Jananatha Warakagoda (tammattama/udakki) as well as Upula Madhushanka & Chandralal Amarakoon (tabla) are a pleasure to watch. There are many more who help to make the performance a delight.
One can also observe how Pradeep is in constant touch with the orchestra throughout the performance. His shy smile, a quiet look towards a player and the occasional nod add much colour and life. These capture his style. Not often do we observe close-ups of the performer or the instrumentalists at a show. The DVD is different – it gives us that additional bit.
The twelve items included in the DVD give the listener/viewer superlative entertainment. From 'Kuveni' to 'Wind' through the 'Blue Skies', 'Flight', 'Mountains' and 'Joy' Pradeep takes us through a highly satisfying journey. Thaji's dance 'Rebirth' is a bonus.
Among a host of others, video director Shantha Bandara Jayawardena and editors Saman Wijesinghe & Dilhan Perera deserve a special 'thank you' for a job well done.