Dr. Sundar employed good concert tactics in programme and style and yet, one felt that he did not capitalise adequately on the tail winds at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club.

The concert had all the ingredients on paper – a powerful song list resembling a vintage DKJ collection, good raga choices and competent accompanists. Dr. Sundar employed good concert tactics in programme and style and yet, one felt that he did not capitalise adequately on the tail winds at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club.

Sundar sang an impressive Thodi alapana (‘Sree Subramanyomam,’ Dikshitar) and the kriti ‘Nannu brovu Lalitha’ (Lalitha, Syama Sastry) with deep involvement. The rest of the concert slipped into dullness from time to time. The unvaried kalapramanam of the whole concert did contribute to this outcome.

‘Raghupathe Rama’ (Sahana) promised much. The kriti rendition had good traditional moorings. This was followed by ‘Manasaramathi’ (Saramati, Thanjavur Sankara Iyer)and ‘Bhajanaseyarada’ (Dharmavathi, Vasudevacharya). The brief niraval at ‘niravadhi sukha’ was engaging. ‘Padame thunai’ (Valaji, Sivan) had limited impact.

Sundar was tentative in the higher octaves and clarity was short in some of the manodharma segments. The DKJ brand of “azhutham” was clearly discernible in the kritis, but not in manodharma. The swarakalpana in Thodi and Dharmavathi were largely routine.

Sriram Kumar lent substance to the concert with sensitive playing, especially in Sahana and Lalitha. Trichur Narendran showed his well-oiled skills in perfect support to the kritis and in the tani. Ernakulam Ramakrishnan provided good support on the ghatam.

Gayatri Sankaran was a surprise package in the morning session. She sang with gusto, was uninhibited and displayed sound musical sense. A vibrant kalapramanam with brigas thrown in made the concert attractive. She would do well to calibrate the higher notes better to avoid off-pitch situations and to soften the outcome. Or perhaps she may be more comfortable at a slightly lower sruti.

The concert began with ‘Sri Mahaganapati’ (Gowlai, Dikshitar), rolled into ‘Orajupuju chedi nyayama’ (Kannadagowla, Saint Tyagaraja) and into ‘Nadanilai’ (Gayakapriya, Koteeswara Iyer, Kantachapu) and a course of sarvalaghu swarams in Gayakapriya (13th melakartha raga). The medium pace tenor of the concert had a perfect landing in the more sanguine raga alapana of Kalyani.

Gayatri excelled in bringing out the beauty in the lower and mid scale without overusing the Panchama varjam, as is employed these days. ‘Nidhi chala sukhama’ is one kriti where the padantara is somewhat universal and thus one enjoys its course. Gayatri offered aesthetic essays of niraval at ‘damasama manuganga snanamu sukhama’ and showed good laya orientation. ‘Thaye Tripurasundari’ (Sudhasaveri, Thooran), though a filler and a speed breaker, was a non-event.

Gayatri’s RTP in Kiravani once again brought her musical sensibilities to the fore in the alapana (in the ri,ga,ma phrases, especially) and in the trikalam of the Pallavi ‘Kamalavadani Karunakari Kamaladalanayani’ in Kanta tripuda. The proportions for ragam, thanam, niraval and swarams were perfect. Pakkala Ramadoss had an off-day as the tone was grainy. Kamaraju on the mridangam accompanied competently.

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Bala ShankarDecember 27, 2011