The show, which started out as a disappointment, was saved by a few good performances.
Heavy rain that lashed the city, last Friday also played spoilsport at Ravindra Bharati where State Cultural Council had planned, just a few days ago, to organise a violin show of presenting rain-inducing ragas. Another disappointment was the unresponsive attitude shown by a huge number of violinists invited to take part. The major blow however was last minute cancellation of star performer L. Subramanyam’s visit. Of the 30 violinists invited, only three soloists – veterans Annavarapu Ramaswamy, P. Poornachander and Avasarala Kanyakumari, turned up.
The original idea was to play Megharanjani and other ragas believed to be rain inducing melodies. One was happy that Kanyakumari, veterans Ramaswamy and P. Poornachander were present as face savers. Even the accompanying artistes are known for their artistry. Kanyakumari, who appeared towards the end, proved a big draw. She regaled the partially filled auditorium to their hearts’ content. Carnatic vocalist and music teacher Y. Ramaprabha’s anchoring too added pep to the event.
Octogenarian Annavarapu Ramaswamy opened the evening show, saying he would only be able to play a few numbers as he was not well. He opened with Vatapi in Hamsadhwani, and went for Thyagaraja’s Ramabhakti Samrajyam in Suddha Bangala. Guruleka Etuvanti in Gourimanohari was annexed with brilliant Swarakalpana. Ramaswamy’s play of the numbers fired some youthful enthusiasm. He was accompanied by his disciple, young P. Nandakumar, on another violin with experienced percussionists of repute P. Jayabhasker on mridangam and Nemani Somayajulu on ghatam providing support. His play with sustaining long notes and sometimes on dual strings was a pleasing exercise with vocalist touch, a style that he learned from the great Parupalli Ramakrishnayya Pantulu, belonging to third generation of Thyagaraja Sishya Parampara. However some charm was lost due to the bad quality of the mike system. He did not touch any rain inducing raga, a job taken by P. Poornachander. He presented originally intended raga Megharanjani in detail for a kirtana of Mysore Vasudevachar. He too was accompanied by the same percussionists who supported Ramaswamy.
It was Kanyakumari’s show that was the highlight of the whole event. She too had a set of seasoned accompanists — D.S.R. Murthy on midangam, Shyamkumar on kanjira. Her disciple Rajiv was on second violin. Kanyakumari had a contact mike and the quality of sound was very pleasing. She really saved the situation with the right spirit. Kanyakumari opened playing Thyagaraja’s Sogasuchooda Tarama in Kannadagowla and followed it with Mysore Vaasudevachar’s popular Khamas number Brochevarevarura. And the most challenging and yet a thrilling number in this part was her dealing with a rare raga ‘Niroshta’ that avoids ‘Madhyamam’ and ‘Panchamam’ both to be uttered using lips. Niroshta itself means no notes using lips and hence it used Sa Ri Ga Da Ni Sa. The raga was a simply brilliant exercise that Kanyakumari played bringing out all its beautiful phrases, never repeating them, displaying her mastery on the instrument and virtuosi skills. It was a unique presentation. The composition she chose was Raja Raja Rajite of Muthiah Bhagavatar. The main number was Kapi for Purandaradasa’s Jagadodharana, popularised by M.S. Subbalakshmi. Kanyakuamri played with melodic spells, never losing the sight of Sahitya expression. The swarakalpana was done in raga chain comprising of Valaji, Hindolam, Natakuranji, Saveri, Vasanti and Mohana. She concluded with Bhagyadalakshmi Baramma of Purandaradasa. On request Kanyakumari played just raga Amrutavarshini and later all the violinists – Annavarapu Ramaswami, Poornachander, Kanyakumari, Nandakumar, Rajiv, Radhika Srinivasan and Ammula Satyavati – presented in chorus Thyagaraja’s Pancharatna kirtana Endaro Mahanubhavulu in Sriragam.