What sets T.V. Gopalakrishnan’s music apart is the deep voice which espouses his mastery of the nuances. Starting his vocal recital with ‘Viriboni,’ the Ata tala Bhairavi varnam, at the Amarabharati Kalyana Mandapam, for Thiruvanmiyur Asthika Samajam, Gopalakrishnan designed his concert with rare compositions set in exotic ragas, integrating nuggets about the raga, the composition and the composer.
So we had ‘Gana Rajane’ in Arabhi by Muthuswami Dikshitar followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Chinna Nadena’ in Kalanidhi, a unique raga. He prefaced the kriti with a brief illustrative alapana that carried a strong resemblance to Karaharapriya since it is a derivative of the same. He appended the song with a cluster of swaras too and delighted the audience. Similarly, later TVG introduced raga Shankari – which has the swaras of Hamsadhwani without rishabam -- and the composition ‘Nannu Bro Judani,’ enveloping it with a quick alapana and concluding with swarakalpana.
Raga Pantuvarali was placed as a second main of the concert and TVG chose to present the Prahlada Bhakta Vijayam kriti of Tyagaraja, ‘Narada Muni Vedalina.’ There was an expert niraval at ‘Rajilluni Tyagaraja’ with a long procession of swaras centring on panchamam. Kambhodi was set as the central attraction with sumptuous detailing of the raga for Veena Kuppiar’s master piece ‘Koniyadina Napai.’ The raga exposition was amply justified with the traditional pidis though built mostly on staccato phrases. The pallavi is popular for its multi-layers of sangatis with subtle to major variations.
TVG’s baritone effortlessly assumed full power in the lower, middle and upper regions and in the enticing chittaswaram. S. Varadarajan on the violin gave a graceful version of Kambhodi and very attractive sketches of Kalanidhi and Shankari. Tiruvarur Bakthavatsalam, besides his almost blustery mridangam support, specially complemented TVG in his well aligned forays in the upper regions of Kambhodi. Anirudh Athreya’s beats on the kanjira were commendable in texture.
It is both heartening and depressing to see these veterans perform with all humility in venues with the least infrastructure and still demonstrate music of very high quality. This particular venue with acoustics that was found much wanting almost reduced many segments of the concert to sheer noise that drowned the lyrics and swaras; the interesting titbits given by TVG as interludes sounded as if they were passing through a scrambler. It is time organisers and artists seriously address such audio inadequacies in several venues.