Sri Krishna Gana Sabha: Shashank shone with his display of dexterity.
The notes that emerged from Shashank’s flute were marked by lyrical and tonal beauty. The depth and appeal of his playing sprang from layers of silences and cadences. He was performing for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.
These aspects in his performing technique were abundant in the alapanas of Denuka (‘Teliyaleru Rama’) and Surutti (‘Geetaarthamu’).
Though Shashank revealed an incredible mastery when it came to precision and variation of sancharas, this came to the fore only in the tranquil segments in madhyama kala. But in the breakneck speed of the fingering, it was more a display of dexterity rather than of delicacy.
The elegant style of presentation was based on felicitous flow, quite irresistible, but in a raga such as Dhenuka crispness would have served better. The same cannot be said of Surutti. The raga was compactly sound, suggestively elevating, with classical dignity and sensitive spontaneity. It was from a master at the height of his prowess. The coverage in mandhara sthayi outlived the glorious shades in dulcet tones.
In the rendering of kirtanas ‘Evarani Nirnayinchirira’ in Devamrithavarshini, and ‘Geetartamu,’ the excellence was as much due to the interpretative ideal held in view as the grandeur of the compositions. After all, his programme was built mainly on three Tyagaraja kirtanas.
All good things carry a bad streak as well. With a gift of such serene playing, why should Shashank succumb to the tyranny of prefabricated arithmetical swaraprasthara cultivations?
The pakkavadya dharma compelled violinist Akkarai Subbulakshmi to toe the line of the vocalist. This necessity erased her natural instincts for sweet stringed and refined presentation of raga images. It was all wrapped up in the same fingering display as that of Shashank. Swaras for every song in different jatis and kalapramanas provided a field day for Mannargudi Easwaran on the mridangam and K. Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira. In their technique, there was passion for percussive profundity not crossing the decibel tolerance level. There lay their deceptive quality of excellence.