Tradition coalesced with consummate artistry in O.S. Thyagarajan’s concert

The 48th Annual Music Festival of the Karnataka College of Percussion Trust, Bangalore, was conducted recently with a series of concerts spread over four days. A vocal recital by O.S. Thyagarajan, accompanied by C.N. Chandrasekhar (violin), T.A.S.Mani (mridangam), Dr.S. Karthik (ghatam) and M. Gururaj (morsing) was held on the final day.

The easy fluidity of the artiste’s style was made explicit in the very first item, the Thyagaraja krithi ‘Muddumomu’ in Suryakantham raga and adi thala, which was rendered in an ideal tempo and embellished with a few avarthanas of kalpana swaras. All the compositions rendered in the concert right up to and including the main piece, were by Thyagaraja. ‘Narada Gana Lola’ in Athana raga and rupaka thala was next, also suffixed with short sequences of kalpana swaras, full of verve and vitality and accentuated with vibrant percussion. The adi thala composition ‘Sundarathara Deham Vandeham’ in Panthuvarali raga and adi thala was supplemented with compact neraval and kalpana swaras at “Raagaadi Samhaaram Raaghavamudaaram”.

The ensuing alapana of Kapi was punctuated with long pauses at pivotal notes including the panchama, nishada, shadja and thara sthayi rishabha, and the two gandharas were used to telling effect in the upper octave. While the essay was nuanced and mellifluous, offering glimpses into the evocative beauty of the raga, it was more intricate and brigha-oriented than mellow and tranquil. The krithi, ‘Rama Raghukula Jalanidhi Soma’ in rupaka thala, however, featured a sedate pace and was adorned with some fluent kalpana swaras. A brisk ‘Atukaradani’ set to the vivadi raga Manoranjani and adi thala, was preface to the main raga of the evening, Kamboji.

The alapana proceeded almost immediately to the thara shadja and the main focus thereafter was on the thara sthayi. Each of the notes, including the madhyama, was struck and held with great clarity and strength, and surrounded with numerous complex, imaginative and lilting sancharas that illumined the vast scope and alluring classicism of the raga and the aesthetic acumen, immense technical prowess and improvisational powers of the vocalist. Tradition coalesced with consummate artistry in the usages around the madhya sthayi dhaivatha, panchama and gandhara during the descent, rounding off the alapana. ‘Evarimata’ in adi thala, a superb choice, was ornamented with an elaborate and engrossing neraval at ‘Bhaktha Paraadheenudanuchu’. Kalpana swaras in two speeds ended with a spate of diminishing thala cycles landing at the dhaivatha, underscored by the absolute steadiness of pace that was manifest in the rhythm oriented passages. Violin accompaniment reflected the style of the lead artiste, and was notable for prompt and expert yet creatively variegated and spontaneous responses. Superb percussion support that culminated in the absorbing thani avarthana was one of the highlights of the concert, though the volume tended to be high at times.

The Festival, which began with a violin duet by Mysore M. Nagaraj and Mysore M. Manjunath, also included vocal recitals by R.A. Ramamani and R.K. Srikantan.