The peculiarities of the harmonium lent a special charm to the concert by C. Ramdas
A harmonium concert by C. Ramdas, accompanied by C.N. Chandrashekhar (violin), C. Cheluvaraju (mridanga), and N. Gurumurthy (ghata) was part of the Navarathri Music Festival organised by Sri Vani Education Centre, Bangalore, recently.
A short raga prelude led to a two-speed rendition of ‘Evaribodha’, the adi tala varna in Abhogi. While the identity of Athana was manifest in the very first phrase of the ensuing short raga sketch, complex sangathis and flourishes, and fluent kalpana swaras adorned the krithi, Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wadiyar’s ‘Sri Mahaganapathim Bhajeham’ in adi thala. Muthaiah Bhagavathar’s ‘Bhuvaneshwariya’ in Mohanakalyani raga and Muthuswami Deekshithar’s ‘Akhilandeshwari’ in Dwijavanthi, both in adi thala, followed in quick succession. A swift, ornate and ebullient ‘Sarasa Sama Dana’, Thyagaraja’s krithi in Kapinarayani raga and adi tala, highlighted the artiste’s amazing dexterity as well as the finer aspects of the raga.
Amrithavarshini was taken up next for a compact, yet complex and mellifluous alapana that covered the entire gamut of the scale. The vibrant pace of Muthaiah Bhagavathar’s ‘Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi’ in rupaka tala was supplemented with kalpana swaras. An effective contrast was introduced through the mellow tempo and tenor of Deekshithar’s ‘Annapoorne Vishalakshi’ in Sama raga and adi thala, bedecked with some fine touches and suffused with raga bhava. The ensuing alapana of Hindolam was replete with enchanting phrases and tender nuances, illumined especially in the extended phrases around the tara sthayi gandhara.
Mysore Vasudevacharya’s ‘Mamavathu Sri Saraswathi’ in adi thala was presented at a sedate pace that emphasised the lilting beauty of the piece. The evocative allure of the kalpana swaras in the first speed was complemented by the rhythmic variety and expertise that marked the second. A concluding spate of diminishing tala cycles landing at the tara shadja culminated in an enthralling thani avarthana. Skilful and imaginative violin accompaniment, in tune with the intent of the lead artiste throughout the concert, was underscored by outstanding percussion support, leading to a fine coalescence of melody and rhythm.
The concert was notable for the fact that the harmonium, rarely heard on the concert platform at present, took centre stage, and the peculiarities of the instrument lent a special charm to the renditions, reminiscent of a bygone era. The repertoire of perennial favourites presented in the performance, and the artiste’s fine sense of aesthetics, manodharma, and command over the medium contributed to an absorbing listening experience, which however was occasionally marred by intrusive mike and sound adjustments.