Vocalist Sriram Parthasarathy leaves no room for doubt about his versatility and creativity. His concert on Monday at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club was certainly very pleasing to the ear. Also, his geniality and rapport with senior accompanists Vittal Ramamurthy (violin) and J. Vaidhyanathan (mridangam) as well as young kanjira artiste B. Shree Sundarkumar, made for a wholesome kutcheri experience. These redeeming aspects should be considered by those inclined to sulk at the overall lightness of the fare or the fairly long tukkada phase.
The concert started with Dikshitar’s Siddhi Vinayakam in Chamaram sung at a stately pace, arguably the composer’s intent; however, the experience was slightly marred by certain types of frivolous sangatis that do not gel well with the Dikshitar ethos. This was followed by a brisk Kumaran Taal Paninde Tudi in Yadukulakambhoji by Papanasam Sivan. There was a brief but thrilling exchange of swaras.
Varali was taken up as the sub-main item. Sriram sang a superb alapana that was a good balance of brikkas, slow oscillations and even an exploration of the plain notes, ma and ni. Vittal Ramamurthy showed his experience and class by keeping his alapana brief and aesthetic. His accompaniment throughout the concert was chaste and understated. The Dikshitar classic Maamava Meenakshi in Mishra Chapu was rendered. Next up, a rapid-fire Sarasa Samadana (Kapinarayani) of Tyagaraja was punctuated by some scintillating mel-kala neraval at the lyric hitavu matalento, before taking up the main item, a ragam tanam pallavi in Mohanam.
Sriram’s Mohanam alapana, overall rendered excellently, started off in a genre-bending Carnatic-Hindustani fashion. Vittal Ramamurthy followed with a brief essay and a tanam. The pallavi was rhythmically straightforward, in Adi tala, but was coloured by pleasing slow speed ragamalika swaras in Hamirkalyani, Dhanyasi, Hamsanandi, and a brief Chenchuruti, before returning to Mohanam. Interestingly, trikalam was rendered after the ragamalika swarams, and this was followed by a brief and superb tani, showcasing the tishra nadai. The impeccably professional J. Vaidhyanathan’s accompaniment was superb and shone in practically every department. B. Shree Sundarkumar managed to generate an unusually deep and rich tone on the kanjira and added some thrilling moments, notably during Kapinarayani as well as the tani.
The half hour that followed saw a light and melodious series of tukkadas — in Jhonpuri, a tillana in Behag and a viruttam in Hamsanandi, Kedaragowla and Desh, and Tanjavur Shankara Iyer’s Ramanama. The concert was rounded off with Vangakadal in Suruti.
It may be mentioned in passing that there was a perception of a slight shortfall in the swarasthana when Sriram held the long notes at the upper sa with his mouth partially closed, although the tone was warm and rich. Similarly, on occasion there was the perception that Vittal Ramamurthy’s was a little elevated. As is the unfortunate practice in most Carnatic concerts, the tambura was entirely inaudible to the audience and hence it was hard to tell where the problem was.
(Uday Shankar is a biomedical design engineer by profession; firstname.lastname@example.org)