Ramakrishnan Murthy adhered to the tradition by keeping his raga delineations crisp.
Whenever a youngster breaks into the concert platform, the air of positive expectancy is accompanied by a deep concern for observance of the core principles of Carnatic music. Ramakrishnan Murthy takes care to erase any such anxieties with a studious espousal of the rules of the traditional game. The song list for his concert for Charsur Arts Foundation reads like a Alathur or Semmangudi suite. There were other clear statements of his intent – a brisk kalapramana (madhyama plus range), artistic but short swarakalpana, sense of overall proportions and an ability to draw on the accompanists for overall concert effect. It takes a few years to hone these, but this youngster has leapfrogged the usual learning track.
‘Ra Rama Inti’ (Asaveri, Tyagaraja) had some beautiful swara suffixes. ‘Intha Kananandamemi’ had the same degree of verve adding to the poignancy of Bilahari. There was a lilting chittaswara which perhaps rendered the kalpanaswaras superfluous. Swarams for every song is not every listener’s cup of tea – certainly not mine! Ramakrishnan clearly stole the march in the raga alapana of Chakaravaham, following it up with ‘Etula Brotuvo,’ one of Tyagaraja’s great compositions, set to Misra Chapu. Niraval at ‘Vatti Goddu Riti Bakshinci’ added sheen to the whole Chakaravaham effect. ‘Devi Brova Samayamithe’ (Chintamani, Syama Sastri) was a further proof of the youngster’s musical maturity, both in the choice as well as in opting for a slightly vilamba kala rendition, sans contrived sangatis – the true symbol of the Syama architecture.
In ‘Kaddhanu Variki’ (Thodi, Tyagaraja), Ramakrishnan rendered a bhava-filled raga alapana – again refraining from an overdose of the large expanse of the raga. The kriti was classically rendered with a perfect poise in the niraval sancharams. Swarams hugged the kriti and the niraval aptly without sounding like an exercise in itself. In the next phase of development, Ramakrishnan would do well to modulate his voice appropriately to the song and the phrase.
Seasoned accompanists, Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, K.V. Prasad and Anirudh Athreya revelled in the main performer’s company and enhanced Ramakrishnan’s campaign without ploughing their own furrow. Standing and aisle-seated audience meant that Ramakrishnan would soon be invited to perform in bigger halls.