The concert of V.V. Subramanyam, leading a team of six violins, was partly orchestral and partly Carnatic. He had the others in every minor detail – the members repeating what he played somewhat like a teaching session. In raga alapanas he played plain notes of the arohana and avarohana with booming sound as he visualised nada in the study of which he is now greatly involved.
There is nothing new in the concept of nada as the link between music and spirituality. It is only the meddling by musicians that misshapes the beauty of great kirtanas of the Vaggeyakaras. The Trinity’s works are not meant to just entertain and amuse but to illuminate the path to spirituality. The sublime simplicity, the delicacy of charm and the profound eternal depths of their art are within the reach of musicians’ earnest in veneration to them, but they are fast becoming things to be wished for.
Subramaniam, in a few introductory words, before the concert sought to impress the listeners that he was striving towards this goal. The first few notes in his play, diligently followed by others, were an indication of his ambition. As the raga progressed, his years of concert accompaniment technique asserted to paint it in virile and vibrating modes. Such was the swaraprastaras too. Any spiritual journey is a purely personal inclination and to sustain it is a challenge.
There is no need for an artist to take special efforts to understand what nada soaked in the Trinity kirtanas stands for. If a musician, true to his profession, sings Tyagaraja’s songs with devotion his mind automatically would get attuned to the saint’s message.
Subramaniam’s idealism is commendable in trying to lift music to the spiritual level. But the question is how many of those who sat with him would pursue the path. Subramaniam has shown when they are engaged in concerts of other vocalists.
The concert began with the first chakra of the 72-melakarta scheme, as an invocatory piece. The choice of the ragadeeswari song ‘Paramatmudu’ was appropriate since what Tyagaraja described the all-pervasiveness of Paramatma, Subramaniam firmly believes nada performer. The programme was entitled Nada-Pravaham. ‘Himadri Suthe Paahi Maam’ (Kalyani with an alapana) and ‘Nee Dayaradha’ (Vasanta Bhairavi) were the other songs.
The violin ensemble consisted of V.V. Ravi, V.V.S. Murari, Mullaivasal Chandramouli, B.U. Ganesh Prasad and Sunita. Guruvayoor Dorai (mridangam), Tirupanitura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) and Srirangam Kannan (morsing) toed the line of V.V. Subramaniam faithfully.