Gamelan of Central Java – 19 KEMBANG MARA
Gendhing Kembang Mara is one of the majestic compositions in the classical repertoire of Central Javanese gamelan music. It should not be confused with another extraordinary gendhing – Kombang Mara – which is also in pelog lima and is very similar in character. Intriguing could be the idea that the Javanese tradition gives us these ‘twin’ works – as if expression of the intense musical content would not be satisfied by one composition only – and resorting to the change of a vowel in the title to distinguish them.
The recording of Kembang Mara in this album features Nyi Yayuk Sri Rahayu as ‘pesindhen’. Her fine, energetic voice and precise performance are outstanding in the opinion of this writer. As I have already noted in other circumstances, this type of singing is the best requisite for attracting Western unaccustomed audiences toward the refined style of gamelan music known as ‘ karawitan’. The performance is enhanced by the contribution of the top musicians of ISI (Music and Arts Conservatory) of Surakarta, Central Java, having Bapak Suraji in the role of music master on the rebab as well as music coordinator.
Ketawang Lebdasari belongs to a collection of poems contained in a manuscript entitled “Sendhon Langen Swara” and attributed to Mangkunegara IV (r. 1853-1881). The collection includes nine poems: Langen Gita, Wala Gita, Raja Swala, Sita Mardawa, Puspa Warna, Puspanjala, Taru Pala, Puspa Giwang, and Lebda Sari. Each poem has a different number of stanzas – with ketawang Langen Gita having as many as twenty. The performance of Lebdasari in this album, in addition to Nyi Yayuk Sri Rahayu already mentioned, is graced by a stellar trio of male singers as ‘gerong’: Bapaks Darsono, Rustopo, and Waridi.
John Noise Manis
Track 1 – 25:52 Gendhing KEMBANG MARA pelog lima
Track 2 – 18:07 Ketawang LEBDASARI slendro manyura
Pesindhen: Yayuk Sri Rahayu
Rebab and music coordination: Suraji
Gerong (male chorus): Darsono, Rustopo, Waridi
Niyaga (musicians): Al Suwardi, Darno, Hadi Boediono, Joko Purwanto, Nurwanto, Nyoman Sukerna, Panggiyo, Prasadiyanto, Rusdiyantoro, Sarno, Sigih, Sigit Astono, Slamet Riyadi, Sriharta, Sri Joko Raharjo, Sukamso, Supardi, Suraji, Suyadi, Wakijo.
Gamelan: Kyai Gedhong Gedhe
Recordings made on 22 September, 2008, at ISI Surakarta.
Recording, Mastering, and Photos: John Noise Manis
YANTRA – Production and Digital Release