Bombay Krishna Murthy's recital attested to his mastery over the instrument and its tonal versatility

A classical Carnatic concert on the synthesiser by Bombay Krishna Murthy accompanied by M.S. Govindaswamy (violin), Manikantan (mridanga), and Bhargava Halambi (kanjira), was organised recently by Sri Ramakrishna Bhajana Samaja Trust, Bangalore, as part of its ongoing Diamond Jubilee Year Celebrations.

The performance, which included many perennial favourites, began with a two-speed rendition of the Abhogi varna in aditala, suffixed with a few avartanas of kalpana swaras. A brief outline of Goula was followed by Dikshithar's “Sri Mahaganapathiravathu” in misra chapu tala, also embellished with kalpana swaras ending with a succinct focus on the panchama. A swift “Nenarunchinanu” in Malavi, and “Shobhillu Sapthaswara” in Jaganmohini, the latter featuring kalpana swaras with easy rhythmic combinations, followed in quick succession.

Karnaranjani was next taken up for a compact elaboration that highlighted its haunting melody with imaginative and bhava-laden phraseology. Muthaiah Bhagavathar's “Vanchathonu” was beautifully rendered, with a particular emphasis on the chittaswara, played in a variety of interesting combinations. “Niravadhisukhada”, the Thyagaraja composition in Ravichandrika was supplemented with kalpana swaras at the charana beginning “Mamava Marakathamaninibha”, enlivened by the vibrant take off point of the sahithya, and ending with a stint at the tara sthayi shadja.

The centre piece of the concert was an ensemble in raga Abheri. The alapana of moderate length was replete with deft touches, flourishes and lilting gamakas suffused with the sweet essence of the raga, to which Thyagaraja's “Nagumomu” in adi tala was the inevitable and perfect sequel. Presented in an ideal kalapramana, the krithi was embellished with kalpana swaras in two speeds, with a few intervening rounds in the tishra gathi adding verve, though a more exhaustive alapana and a neraval at some point would have further enriched the exercise.

The swaras concluded with a fairly elaborate segment of diminishing avarthanas at the panchama, accentuated by exceptional support from the violinist, and succeeded by a tani avarthana that reaffirmed the expertise of the percussionists.

Though occasional staccato notes were discernible, on the whole the recital adhered to the smooth and gamaka laden identities of the chosen ragas, faithfully articulating the distinctness of notes such as the rishabha in Goula and the gandhara in Abhogi, attesting to mastery over the instrument and its tonal versatility. A refined aesthetic sensibility was also evident in the selection and treatment of ragas and compositions, and in the restraint and sense of proportion manifest in the deployment of rhythmic calculations.