Perumbavur G. Ravindranath’s concert in Thrissur was a fitting tribute to the late maestro Neyyattinkara Vasudevan.
‘Manirang’ was a deserving sobriquet to Neyyattinkara Vasudevan during his life time, for there has hardly been any concert in which the late maestro musician did not present the popular Swati Tirunal kirtana ‘Jaya Jaya Padmanabha’ in the same raga. Small wonder that the foundation formed to preserve and propagate his passion for music was named after the raga. Manirang celebrated the 72nd birth anniversary of Vasudevan with a concert by veteran musician and musicologist Perumbavur G. Ravindranath in Thrissur. It was a fitting tribute to the late musician.
Ravindranath’s performance in the city after a long interval attracted quite a number of music buffs. The two-and-a-half hour concert was demonstrative of the musical prowess of the artiste. It was marked by superb creativity that adhered to tradition. He was also judicious in his selection of ragas.
The opening number ‘Pramanammyham Sree Gouri sutham’, Mysore Vasudevachar’s composition in Gowla, was expressive of the dexterity with which he could slide easily through the sthayis. The progression of the swaras was also gradual, which added to the elegance of the number. ‘Paahi nikila janani’, which followed, was evocative of the function of ‘sangatis’ in classical music. At the same time he was careful not to overdo it. The Irayimman Thampi composition was in Natta and Adi. The slow tempo in which the Dikshitar kirtana ‘Sree Vara Lakshmi namasthubham’ was rendered, brought to the limelight the nuances of the ever-fresh raga Sree.
Elaboration of a raga was attempted only in the next number – ‘Annapoorne visalakshi’, also a Dikshitar composition, in Syama. The melodic niceties of the raga unfolded through singular phrases. He added a note of nostalgia to it by telling the audience that this composition was taught to him by Vasudevan himself on their way back from a trip to Chennai.
Ravindranath then went straight to ‘Sitamma Mayamma’, a Vasantha composition of Tyagaraja in Roopakam.
‘Padmanabha paahi’ was rich in sangatis. As he progressed into the Swati kriti in Hindolam, he also preferred to stay longer in the higher octave, thereby enhancing the beauty of the rendition.
A short ‘Bandureethi koluviyya vayya Rama’, a Tyagaraja kirtana in Hamsanadam, proved a fitting prelude to the main raga of the evening, Saveri. His essay of Saveri highlighted his creative instincts; his gliding through the octaves was especially remarkable.
C. Rajendran on the violin rose to the occasion by reproducing the highlights faithfully but with propriety. Tani by Thiruvananthapuram Surendran (mridangam) and Perukavu Sudheer (ghatam) was invigorating and in the right proportion. Ravindranath concluded with a couple of light numbers in Revathy and Vasanthi.
Listeners tuning in by keeping the rhythm is indication enough of the laya that a concert creates. But when it exceeds permissible limits of decibels it can be distracting to both the performers and the audience. Admittedly, the concert under review was considerably affected by this practice.
Earlier, disciples of Neyyattinkara Vasudevan, such as Sreevalsan J. Menon, Vellayani Ashok Kumar, Vazhamuttom Chandra Babu, Chandrika Balachandran, Bhuvaneswari and Sreelekha Nandakumar offered a group musical tribute to their guru by singing ‘Jaya Jaya Padmanabha’ and ‘Karuna Cheyyanenthu Thamasam Krishna’ (Yadukulakamboji).