REVIEW Chingelpet Ranganathan's choice of songs highlighted the many facets contained in Thiruppugazh.
The splendour of Thiruppugazh lies in its manifold rhythmic structures. Arunagirinathar, the author and supreme laya pundit, was a polymath with a matching flair for both poetry and music.
It is interesting to note that out of the 16,000-odd songs composed by him, only 1,300 have been traced after a life-long search by Chengalvaraya Pillai.
Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust deserves a special word of praise for organising a concert based on Thiruppugazh at Narada Gana Sabha recently.
Chingelpet Ranganathan had made an informed choice of songs which covered the many facets contained in these compositions. He is an acknowledged laya loyalist and this became the decisive factor during the concert.
Ranganathan began with the conventional 'Kaithala Niraikani' and followed it with 'Muthai Tharu Pathi' in Kedaram. The opening lines for the second song is said to have been indicated to Arunagiri by Lord Muruga himself.
'Umbar Tharu Dhenumani' in Keeravani was followed by 'Varadhamani Nee Ena Voril' in Panthuvarali, a song on the deity at Palani.
The alapana here and later at Thodi for 'PadhiMadhiNadhi' had a certain languid grace and the swaraprastharas were woven with all conceivable and intricate time-measures, quietly juxtaposed with remarkable arithmetical accuracy.
Students of laya could observe that the avarthanams had numerous single swaras with their elongated and fitting karvais, which itself was a commentary on the kind of enviable control this vidwan has over tala.
'Vasana Migavetri' in Atana had a brief raga sketch which was followed by 'Paniyin Vinthuli Polave' in Harikhambodi, (khanda jathi; dhruva tala) which saw the lyrics directing and embellishing the mettu. The next song 'Vattuppadadha madhanalum' in Bilahari has been classified under the general (podhu) category. The other verses rendered were 'Nilayadha Samuthiramana' (sankeerna jathi; triputa tala), 'Kaadhi Modhi' in Sankarabharanam and the confessional number, 'Madhiyal Vithaganaagi'.
M. A. Sundareswaran on the violin shaped the ragas to perfection with well-imagined and captivating phrases. His vidwat was put to a comprehensive test during the swara exchanges that were exacting and carried with them a grandness.
R. Ramesh on the mridangam was kept on tenterhooks to watch and follow all the rhythmic potentialities that were released impromptu by Ranganathan. His thani in misra chapu employed the soft, bold and powerful (vallinam, mellinam and idaiyinam) sollus liberally and thus merited attention.