The delineation of Dhanyasi ragam by T.K.S. Meenakshisundaram and T.K. Sehagopalan made the rasikas yearn for more.

It was most befitting to hold the nagaswaram recital, to open the music concerts of Academy, this year. It is considered to be the Raja Vadhyam and appropriately has been given the honour, as has been the practice in the Academy for the past few years.

Vidwan T.K.S. Meenakshisundaram is the eighth generation nagaswaram player in the illustrious lineage of vidwan Tiruppamparam Swaminatha Pillai, who is the paternal uncle of his father. “I had the gurukulavasam from an early age under my father vidwan Shanmugasundaram Pillai and his brother vidwan Tiruppambaram Sivasubramania Pillai,” says Meenakshisundaram. “I have been performing along with T.K.S. Swaminathan for over 25 years and in a way completed a silver jubilee. After my partner’s demise last year, I have introduced my nephew Seshagopalan as my partner.”

According to vidwan Meenakshisundaram, it was their family which had the pride of introducing the ‘Rettai Nagaswaram’ or pair of nagaswaram players for the first time decades ago.

The programme had a delayed start but Tiruppamparam T.K.S. Meenakshisundaram and his deputy T.K. Sehagopalan began the concert in right earnest with the Sowrashtram raga piece, ‘Sri Ganapathini’ of Tyagaraja with a brief alapana. This was followed by the kriti ‘Neelayadhakshi’ by Syama Sastri in Paras and the alapana of Dhanyasi, which the rasikas felt that the vidwan could have essayed a little more. The kriti chosen was ‘Ramabhirama’ of Tyagaraja. Meenakshisundaram did not indulge either in niraval or in swaraprastara and yet, the rendition of the sahitya was impressive. ‘Ra Ra Ma Inti’ in Asaveri was the next piece.

Suddha Saveri was the main piece of the concert and the alapana, therefore, served as a vast canvas for the artist to launch vigorously to showcase his skill and vidwat. He was in his elements and allowed his manodharma to explore the beauty of the raga. ‘Dharini Telusukonti’ of Tyagaraja was taken up giving him all the scope for his abundant imagination in the niraval and swaraprastara. In the latter, he forayed into ragas such as Behag and Anandabhairavi. The vidwan allowed his deputy to accompany him occasionally on the niraval and swara segments, while taking full control of the situation. When he played the closing notes in the lower octave, displaying his lung power to sustain a long phrase, he deservedly drew a round of applause.

Both the thavil exponents – Tirunageswaram T.R. Subramaniam and Tirukarugavur T.D. Sivagurunathan – had shared between them the laya aspect admirably, while contributing a vibrant thani exhibiting their virtuosity.

Post-thani, it was ‘Hecharikarara’ of Tyagaraja in Yadhukulakhambodi followed by the ragamalika kriti ‘Srichakraraja,’ a Vadhiraja padam in Sindhubhairavi, with a brief alapana of the lilting raga, as a prelude. The kavadichindu number ‘Vallikanavan Perai’ had its own folksy attraction in the nagaswaram mode. Before closing, the vidwan played ‘Margazhi Thingal’ the Tiruppavai song and the Tiruppugazh piece to sign off. It was a typical recital of brand – Thanjavur, devoid of any exhibitionism that heralded the deluge of December music season of the Academy. Although the concert had mike amplification, it did not sound heavy on the ear, as the volume was maintained at a comfortable listening level.

(charukesiviswanathan@yahoo.co.in)