N.K. Madhusoodanan's harmonium concert showcased how well the instrument can be adapted to play Carnatic music.
Decades ago, the harmonium was a popular instrument for solo Carnatic concerts. N.K. Madhusoodanan revived this tradition with a harmonium concert at Sivapoorna Auditorium, Thripunithura. A theatre person, Madhusoodanan, a Ganabhooshanam in both vocal and mridangam, works at the School of Drama, Kozhikode. Inspired by his father to take up the harmonium, he has, over the years, tapped his experience to enhance his instrumental concerts.
Madhusoodanan got off to a wonderful start with the Abhogi varnam ‘Evaribodhana' by Patnam Subrahmania Iyer. It is simply not possible to play the harmonium with gamaka and hence there can be no raga bhava. Yet Madhusoodanan thrilled the audience with a brilliant alaap of the deep raga Hamsadhwani and also with ‘Vathapi Ganapathim,' composed by Muthuswami Dikshitar.
Madhusoodanan also revealed his skill in Carnatic music with the rare raga Saraswathi, the janya raga of the 64th melakartha raga Vachaspathi. The only difference between Saraswathi and Vachaspathi is that it does not have the ‘gaandharam.' ‘Saraswathi namosthuthe' by G.N.B. was the kriti.
Madhusoodanan, who won the Kerala State award for best music director for telefilms in 2003, was equally good with soft ragas.
This skill was showcased with a smooth alaap of Anandabhairavi and then with ‘Marivere gathi evaramma,' a kriti by Syama Sastri. Manjoor Ranjith's swara to swara support on the violin made these renditions all the more alluring.
An alaap of Bilahari showed Madhusoodanan's proficiency at traversing ocataves. He chose well with Patnam Subrahmania Iyer's ‘Parithanamichithe' and Tygaraja's ‘Emie jesithe' (Thodi).
Madhusoodanan seemed very agile with his fingers, and easily traversed fast-paced scales too. The instrumentalist showcased this skill with ‘Raghuvamsasudha' (Kathanakuthoohalam) by Patnam Subrahmania Iyer.
Homage to stalwarts
Madhusoodanan did not forget to pay homage to harmonium stalwarts such as Kottaram Sankunni Nair, Malabar Gopalan Nair, Kandiyoor Ayyappa Bhagavathar, and so on.
The main raga of the day was Abheri. The audience was treated to an impromptu competition between Madhusoodanan and Ranjith during the alaap. ‘Bhajare re manasa,' a Mysore Vasudevachar composition, was another good choice to prove the instrument's range.
Tani by Palakkad K.S. Mahesh Kumar (mridangam) and Harippad S.R. Sekhar (ghatam) was remarkable, and it lasted for around 30 minutes.
‘Manavyalakim' (Nalinakanthi), a Tyagaraja composition, and ‘Visweswara' (Sindhubhairavi), composed by Swati Tirunal, were some of the thukkadas that were rendered. Madhusoodanan also played a Lalgudi Jayaraman thillana in raga Desh. The concert was held under the aegis of Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha, Thripunithura.