The rasikas were reminded of GNB as Trichur Ramachandran rendered songs that were popularised by his guru.
The prime disciple of the legendary GNB, Trichur V. Ramachandran, had cleverly planned his concert package with almost a dozen ‘uruppidis’ that included a leisurely RTP, besides providing space for raga vinyasa by violinist M.A. Krishnaswamy and offering time for the customary thani, all within the prescribed time frame. While MAK served as a fellow-traveller with his brilliant accompaniment on the violin showering sweetness and absolute melody to renditions of alapana, niraval and swarakalpanas, mridangam vidwan Thanjavur Murugabhoopathy and ghatam artist Tiruchi Murali played their role of providing competent percussive support. If Murugabhoopathy had soft touches, Murali’s was distinctly powerful beats.
The vocalist’s homage to his master GNB was through three kritis – the opening varnam ‘Amboruka Padame Nammithi’ in Ranjani, ‘Adagaleni Anni Sugamu’ in Varali and ‘Vikasita Poornachandrikam’ in Purnachandrika. These could be heard only from Trichur Ramachandran and therefore were absolutely refreshing.
The Papanasam Sivan song of ‘Sankara Dhayakara Charanakamalam Thunai’ in Harikhambodi was truly sublime and the niraval of ‘Onrum Ariya Pethai Un Perumai Enna Kanden’ was evocative enough to create a mood of piety. (To quote Mahatma Gandhi on listening to Dilipkumar Roy, he wrote ‘although the song was a simple tune, the trained voice of the gifted singer imparted to the simple tune a sweetness of its own’.) Composer Garbapurivasar’s ‘Kamalambana Chinta’ had a prelude of the raga Kanada and the vocalist brought out the beauty of the raga in all its hues with his briga-laden voice. If the chittaswarams added a lilt, the swara sallies were catchy, giving an opportunity to the violinist to present them with his own embellishments. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s Devakriya piece ‘Sri Vaduganatha Suvasanjatha Jeeva Dayakara’ on the deity Vaduganathar in Tiruvaiyaru seemed to be a filler but it had its own weight and charm.
Kalyani raga was given the status of the main piece and the alapana of the vocalist revealed his prowess in covering all the three pitches with effortless ease. His husky voice lent a kind of sonorous touch in essaying the raga. Whatever sangatis the vocalist left unexplored, the violinist carried them in his version thus giving the raga presentation a wholesome picture. The vocalist sang the kriti ‘Enduko Nee Manasu’ according it a grand status it richly deserved, with niraval and swaras for ‘Tyagaraja Hridaya Sathanudani’ of the charanam line. Then the crisp thani followed. Murugabhoopathy and Murali could have played a fairly long thani, but they chose to restrict themselves to a very short format, thus giving the vocalist more time to exhibit his vidwat.
The vocalist, therefore, had enough time for the RTP in Abheri, again a unique selection, with exhaustive alapana of the raga in an unhurried pace, with pallavi line ‘Maduram Sumaduram Athikasumaduram, Sri Rama Namamrutham’ with a string of ragamalika swaras, in which Kadanakuduhalam and Behag stood out in the chain.
‘Panimathi Mukibale’ the Ahiri kriti of Swati Tirunal, ‘Dhikku Theriyadha Kaatil’ of Subramanya Bharati, made famous by his Guru GNB, and ‘Muralidara Gopala’ a favourite of MLV, were rendered in quick succession, walking down memory lane.
While the vidwan relied on his pure vidwat and imaginative skill for raga alapana, niravals and swarakalpanas, negotiating his vocal chords on all three sthayis with ease, he relied on a sheaf of papers in front of him for unerring sahitya suddham.