Vocal recital by T.S. Sathyavathi was slow and meditative
Sri Shankara Bhagavathpadara Jayanthi and 42nd Music Festival was conducted recently by the Sri Thyagaraja Gana Sabha Trust, Bangalore, with a series of music concerts by upcoming as well as established artistes. A vocal recital by Dr. T.S. Sathyavathi, accompanied by B. Vittala Rangan (violin), M.T. Rajakesari (mridanga) and G. Guruprasanna (khanjari), was part of the festival.
The first item, Oothukkadu Venkatasubbaier’s ‘Pranavakaram Siddhivinayakam’ in Arabhi raga and adi thala, was rendered in a slow meditative tempo and established the tenor of the concert, steeped in classicism and erudition. A few rounds of kalpana swaras, some of which reflected the opening phrase of the krithi in consonant and symmetrical usages, were appended to the piece. The contemplative mood was further sustained with ‘Sri Guruna Palithosmi’, the Deekshithar krithi in Padi raga and rupaka thala, sung with great fidelity to the beauty of the lyrics and the haunting allure of the scale.
The following alapana of Ranjani was beautifully crafted, incorporating a seamless coalescence of smooth and complex brigha-oriented sancharas. The GNB krithi ‘Ranjani Niranjani’ in adi thala was marked by a sedate pace and accentuated with a succinct neraval at the charana sahithya beginning ‘Kanjadala Lochani’. The highlight of the kalpana swaras was a spate of diminishing thala cycles landing at the dhaivatha, which seemed suspended in mid octave due to the uniqueness of the panchama varjya structure of the raga, imbuing the entire exercise with unearthly and compelling shades. Different ways of approaching the swara from above and below were made evident in the process.
“Bhajisi Badukaleno Manava” in Shankarabharana raga and khanda chapu thala proved an effective melodic and rhythmic contrast to the previous item. A polished presentation of Muthuswami Deekshithar’s ‘Ranganayakam’ in Nayaki raga and adi thala was next, illumined with all the delicate graces and smooth curves of the raga as explicit in the grand and measured gait of the composition. The main item of the evening was a consummate exposition of Shahana, centred on the rarely heard Thyagaraja krithi ‘Urake Kalguna’ set to mishra chapu thala, augmented with exemplary accompaniment by the violinist, who excelled in his solo segments, and expert support from the percussionists. The leisurely pace adopted throughout, the emphasis on raga bhava and sahitya bhava, the variety in the compositions included, and uncompromising adherence to tradition and classicism, were outstanding features of the recital. At times, however, the voice came across as muffled and overshadowed by the instruments, and better acoustics and more attention to proper balancing would have enhanced listening pleasure and done greater justice to the efforts of the performing artistes.
The festival was presided over by Mysore V. Subramanya, who was also honoured with the ‘Kalabhushana Award’. Gottuvadya exponent Gayathri Rajapur Kassebaum and mridangam artiste M.T. Rajakesari were among the eminent personalities felicitated. Concerts by Madhuvanthi, Divya Giridhar, Anjali Sriram, and senior artistes S. Shankar, Rajalakshmi Thirunarayanan and Rathnaprabha Krishnan, and ‘Sunada Vadya Vybhava’ featuring an array of accomplished percussionists also formed part of the Festival.