Sudha Raghunathan delighted listeners with her improvisational magic. Sudha enthralled the audience, presenting precisely four songs. She made a perfect balance between the kalpita (music as learnt) and manodharma (creative music where improvisations are made in the form of alapana, neraval and swaraprastaras).
Sudha Raghunathan’s was the only Carnatic music programme in the three-day music festival, Indraprastha Sangeet Samaroh, organised by the Sahitya Kala Parishad in memory of the late Ustad Vilayat Khan. In a time slot of about an hour or so, this illustrious disciple of the legendary late M.L. Vasanthakumari did a wonderful job in showcasing various facets of Carnatic music to the audience who were predominantly rasikas of Hindustani music. Sudha, who participated on the last day of the festival, enthralled the audience, presenting precisely four songs. She made a perfect balance between the kalpita (music as learnt) and manodharma (creative music where improvisations are made in the form of alapana, neraval and swaraprastaras).
Selection of compositions too was intelligently done. Sudha took two from the three composers known as the Trinity of Carnatic music (Muthuswami Dikshitar, Tyagaraja and Shyama Sastri), one of her guru’s guru, the legendary late G.N. Balasubramaniam, and one of Vyasaraya’s.
Sudha’s opening piece was an invocation song to Lord Ganesa, “Siddhi Vinayakam” a Dikshitar composition in raga Shanmukhapriya. Towards the end of this item, Sudha presented swaraprastaras that flowed with rich creativity. Sudha’s introduction of swaraprastaras even for the very first item gave a brisk start to her proceedings.
She then straightaway went on to present “Nagumomu”, a composition of Tyagaraja in raga Abheri. Here, Sudha did not take up any improvisation techniques and it was plain presentation of this popular composition with utmost care for the sangatis and tempo (Adi tala).
It was now time for the central presentation. G.N. Balasubramanian’s composition “Ne charana buja” in raga Keeravani, as the main item, naturally underwent a detailed presentation. All the three improvisation techniques, namely, alapana, neraval and swaraprastaras were used. After presenting an outstanding alapana of this raga, Sudha sang the lyrics, bringing the sahitya bhava to the fore. She then took up for neraval the phrase “Sree Purari Rani Keervani” and followed it with swara formats. Her improvisational skills came handy and the neraval and swara formats, rich in imagination flowed with ease and speed. Particularly, the use of Ri Ga Ri swara combination in two octaves in quick succession was delightful.
Incidentally, the GNB school to which Sudha belongs is known for producing marvellous manodharma music. Sudha’s last item was “Krishna nee begane” a composition of Vyasaraya in the raga Yamankalyani. Here too, Sudha brought the emotive aspects of the lyrics to the fore.
B.V. Raghavendra Rao provided Sudha good violin support, and his delineation of Keeravani was delightful. Neyveli Skanda Subramanian on the mridangam and R. Raman on the morsing provided understanding percussion support. However, Skanda Subramanian occupied most of the percussion space and was seen batting for Raman too on quite a number of occasions. Nevertheless, their brief percussion ensemble (tani avartanam) in Adi tala was captivating.
On the whole, a memorable concert for both Carnatic and Hindustani music rasikas. Sahitya Kala Parishad deserves appreciation not only for inclusion of a Carnatic music programme in their music festival but also for the choice of the artiste.