Carnatic JAS concert was marked by extraordinary expertise, coordination and understanding between the artistes

“Carnatic JAS – An Orthodox Carnatic Feast with a Difference” was presented by Dr. Jyotsna Srikanth (violin), N. Amrit (kanjira) and Shadrach Solomon (piano) recently, under the auspices of Ananya, Bangalore. The acronym in the title stood for the first letter of the artistes’ names put together and not for any deviation from the principles of the genre.

The concert began with a brief alapana of Kalyani, initiated on the violin and supported by and followed on the piano. A vibrant two speed rendition of the ata thala varna “Vanajakshi” set the tone for the evening, a display of spectacular virtuosity and dexterity by the participants. The Thyagaraja composition “Raghunayaka” in Hamsadhwani raga and adi thala was adorned with a spate of kalpana swaras, though the choice of a raga with a different swara combination would have set off the preceding Kalyani more effectively. The following alapana of Panthuvarali included a series of shadja and panchama varjya usages till the ascent to the thara sthayi shadja, imbuing the exercise with exotic shades that were also reflected in the ensuing Utsava Sampradaya krithi of Thyagaraja, ‘Shobhaane’, a rarity on the concert stage.

The three artistes combined to telling effect in the presentation of the perennial favourite of instrumentalists, Patnam Subrahmania Iyer’s “Raghuvamsha Sudhambudhi Chandra” in Kathanakuthuhalam raga and adi thala. A preponderance of plain notes and the occasional gliding nishada characterised the succeeding compact alapana of the raga Saraswathi. The GNB composition “Saraswathi Namosthuthe” in rupaka thala, supplemented with kalpana swaras, was succeeded by “Dinamani Vamsha” in Harikamboji and “Eti Yochanalu” in Kiranavali. Bahudhari, the main raga of the evening, was elaborated in some detail, illumining the inherent melody of the scale. A compact thana, incorporating diverse patterns, infused a completely traditional flavour into the performance. Thyagaraja’s “Brova Bharama” in adi thala featured a succinct neraval at the charana line beginning “Kalashambudhilo”. Among the concluding items was the ‘English Note’ which had all the participants joining in with gusto.

The concert was marked by extraordinary expertise, coordination and understanding between the three artistes, buttressed by superb improvisational prowess, high energy levels and rhythmic control. A little more emphasis on the tranquil and reposeful facets of music, and better concert structure would have further augmented listening pleasure. While the violinist led the ensemble, the pianist contributed to the whole, including the manodharma components, retaining the original tone and tenor of the instrument with plain notes, lilting consonance and chords. The kanjira, usually relegated to a secondary position, took centre stage here as the sole percussion accompaniment and enriched the recital with an astonishing variety in texture, timbre and rhythmic complexity.