TVS did not sing anything new but what an awesome concert it was!

Past Sunday evening was dedicated to the memory of Madurai Mani Iyer whose centenary celebration was organised by Sri Ram Samaj at the Ayodhya Aswamedha Maha Mandapam, West Mambalam. Madurai Mani Iyer was a regular at Samaj’s Sri Rama Navami music festival since its founding days in the 1950s. His nephew and famed vidwan T.V. Sankaranarayanan reminisced about Madurai Mani Iyer.

The audience was then treated to an enthralling experience of listening to Iyer’s Bhairavi raga alapana for a few minutes. Octogenarian members of the Samaj were honoured by T.V. Sankaranarayanan. This was followed by his vocal concert.

Spirited show

The three hours that followed offered an experience that connoisseurs will remember for long. TVS has nothing to prove. Yet he raised his performance bar with the spirit of a zealous young vidwan.

The kritis were familiar, those that TVS has sung at several of his concerts, but boredom never set in. It is this penchant for improvisation that keeps his approach fresh. The music came from the nabhi but it was controlled aggression. He featured his uncle’s all time favourites such as ‘Vatapiganapatim,’ and ‘Nijamarmamulanu’ (Umabharanam). ‘Sara Sama Dana,’ Tyagaraja’s Kapi Narayani kriti gave him ample scope for niraval in the charanam line, ‘Hithavumatalentho Baga Balkithivi.’ The phrases came cascading leaving the rasika yearning for more.

The audience will remember the Pantuvarali alapana forever. Particularly, his negotiation of tara sthayi phrases with perfect sruti alignment was astounding.

Clearly overawed by the maestro’s vidwat, S. Varadarajan (violin), Neyveli Skandasubramanian (mridangam) and Alathur Rajaganesh (ganjira), registered their appreciation through nods. Varadarajan, a cool customer on stage, followed TVS like a shadow and proved his mettle as a seasoned accompanist. TVS’s kalpanaswaras for ‘Shambho Mahadeva’ (Tyagaraja) were precision oriented. Kapi the main was in for a royal treatment. A perfect ten to the akhara phrases or the run-up to the upper shadjam and beyond. ‘Intha Sowkhiyamani Nay’ (Tyagaraja) was the obvious choice. Following in his uncle’s footsteps, his sarva laghu swaras and their landings with some intricate workmanship were simply breathtaking.

Skandasubramaniam in the company of Rajaganesh presented a tani matching the singer’s efforts. Their repartees during the kriti phrase were enjoyable. Normally a concert sways slowly towards the x-axis after the tani, but TVS chose ‘Sarasamukhi,’ Harikesanallur’s masterpiece in Gaudamallar that brought the graph back on its ascendant path.

The viruttam in Behag was a verse from Kolaru Padhigam. The researcher in him brought forth the raga’s intrinsic beauty, especially in the line ‘Miga Nalla Veenai Thadavi’ wherein he presented about a dozen variations. His son Mahadevan and daughter Amrutha, fourth generation musicians in the Madurai Mani Iyer lineage, gave him effective vocal support.

A concert from which aspiring musicians, if they had attended, would have immensely benefited.