Shantala Subramanyam alternated between pace and poise.
Music concerts never reach a saturation point. Even after the marathon series of programmes, there are still outfits that present music and dance festivals to the delight of connoisseurs. The Chennai Fine Arts series of concerts, Gottuvadyam Narayana Iyengar Music Festival, featured the flute recital of Shantala Subramanyam with M.R. Gopinath on the violin, Patri Satish Kumar on the mridangam and Sreesundar Kumar on the ganjira, at Arkay Convention Centre.
The focal point of the concert was on Purvikalyani with an elaborate presentation of Dikshitar’s ‘Meenakshi Memudam’. The raga essay was quite modest without much embellishment. The swara section on ‘Madurapuri Nilaye’, indeed, was a long winding one. The sedate kizh kala swaras got energised once Shantala moved to the faster segment. Very dramatically combined strands of swaras moved towards a grand finale after numerous rounds of exchanges between Shantala and Gopinath. It was followed by an extended thani of high intensity by Patri Satish Kumar and Sreesundar Kumar.
So after all this, when Shantala had ventured into Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi in Keeravani, it was rather tame. Her sketchy raga essay became precise in Gopinath’s version. The tanam went on for a few minutes; the pallavi was ‘Saravana Bhava Guhane.’
The early part of the concert had a lively start with Bhairavi Ata Tala varnam in madhyama kalam and Tyagaraja’s Nalinakanti kriti ‘Manavyala’ with raga and swaras piled up interestingly. It attained pace with Thooran’s ‘Thaye Tripura Sundari’ in Suddha Saveri. The protracted padavarnam ‘Suma Sayaka’ in Karnataka Kapi by Swati Tirunal came as a speed breaker.
Shantala, no doubt, has a great grasp of the medium. But, instrumentalists have the advantage of exploring ragas with better phrases and highlighting the finer nuances. Shantala exploited it only for the swaras in Purvikalyani. Otherwise, her approach was more methodical than inspiring or spontaneous.