Sankaranarayanan's ‘Meenakshi Memudam' was stimulating, devout and elegant. Carnatica Brothers' Nalinakanti was appealing. G. Swaminathan
V. Sankaranarayanan's concert was a pleasant surprise both in disposition and deliberation. With a highly pliable and resonant voice, Sankaranarayanan's every number was found to be an enjoyable experience imbued with comfort and clarity. Not a single moment bordered on overstatement. Keeping his creativity well within the grammar of delectable music, he exuded self-assurance and more important delicacy, an item not very common among many male singers.
‘Sri Vathapi Ganapathiye' in Sahana by Sivan and the Dhenuka kriti ‘Teliyaleru Rama' by Tyagaraja with quite extensive swarakalpana provided a prelude to the detailing of Nalinakanti. The lilting raga was taken up for alapana. Here Sankaranarayanan opened up the innumerable shining facets of the raga with long, short, brisk, steady, reposeful phrases with amazing originality. Tyagaraja's famous ‘Manavyalakinchara' assumed a steady pace providing interesting sangatis and aesthetically linked strings of swaras.
Following this, Sankaranarayanan chose the soft, sedate and subtle ‘Marivere Gati' of Syama Sastri in Anandabhairavi. The rendition, more specifically the charanam and sahityam for the chittaswaram showed the musical maturity of this young aspirant.
Nevertheless, a piece of advice: long winding swaras, without any set pattern, have become the norm to draw audience's applause. Sankaranarayanan has the capacity to even infuse some fine permutations but they are unfortunately getting lost in the meandering length. He should control the length of the swaras lest they become an a drag.
The Purvikalyani expansion was tackled in a slightly different manner but was pleasing in the sense that Sankaranarayanan was able to capture some of the beguilingly colourful hues of the raga with lengthy karvais, expert swirls and bouncy akaras and brigas. The fast and slow parts were well integrated into one massive monolith to match his selection ‘Meenakshi Memudam,' Dikshitar's oeuvre.
The kriti touched the audience with its devoutness and musical elegance. The mandatory ‘Madurapuri Nilaye' took the vocalist to the realms of musical retrieve with poignant niraval and swaraprasthara. Even the normally bland first kala swaras were shining with the way Sankaranarayanan presented it. The second kala swaras moved swiftly involving remarkable permutations and finally pitching on panchamam leading to well-knit korvais and on to a spectacular finale. In a nutshell, Sankaranarayanan's Purvikalyani and ‘Meenakshi Memudam' were brilliant. V.V. Ravi's violin phrases were in sync with the vocalist's vision and quality. His Nalinakanti was well nurtured than Purvikalyani. Mannarkoil Balaji (mridangam) was in perfect control.
Sankaranarayanan's rhythmic sense is strong and unlike other musicians of his league, he does not slap the tala causing a great deal of noise.
Amplification of voice and instruments are introduced to make listening a pleasure to larger section of audience. When in a small hall, such as the one in MGR Janaki College, if the audio is not adjusted to acceptable levels, the pleasure turns out to be pain. That is what has happened in the vocal concert of Carnatica Brothers, Shashikiran and Ganesh.
The already robust and booming voice of the duo was magnified to echoing decibels. Adding to this was the over powering din of the mridangam. The slender margin which demarcated music from noise was blurred leading to the muffling of lyrics and swaras.
The brothers started with a ragamalika varnam set in gana ragam followed by Tyagaraja's ‘Patti Viduvaradu' in Manjari in quick succession. Nalinakanti alapana was shared by Shashikiran and Ganesh. Ganesh, indeed, attempted some appealing phrases in the middle and upper registers while Shashikiran confined himself to the lower octave sancharas. Nevertheless, after the kriti ‘Kanna Un Kuzhalosai' there was a long winding swaraprasthara by Shashikiran.
A sensitively rendered ‘Mayamma' in Ahiri was a reprieve from the boisterous earlier number. But the brothers relentlessly pursued the Atana kriti ‘Anupama Gunambuthi.' The mridangam succumbed to the temptation offered by the fast paced Khanda chapu and made the proceedings go wild.
There was a ragam tanam pallavi in Varamu. Once again, the raga essay divided between the singers was competent enough but for the sudden outbursts of Ganesh to touch the peak of the tara sthayi. The pallavi ‘Samaganalolane Sada Sivane' set to Adi talam, two kalai, enjoyed professional segments of niraval, trikalam and swaras.
H.N. Bhaskar on the violin showed streaks of soft renditions in ragas and swaras; otherwise he also contributed his slice to the strident calisthenics. The credit for the percussion went to H.S. Sudheendra on the mridangam and A.S. Krishnan on morsing.