TRIBUTE - Bombay Jayashri and Kala Prasad moved the listeners with their rendition of Ambujam Krishna’s songs.

When a voice that exudes sensitivity, presents the lyric of a composer whose works stand out for their sense of devoutness to God, it becomes an experience to be cherished.

The audience at the Music Academy was taken to ethereal realms of music and bhakti by Bombay Jayashri at a tribute concert to composer Ambujam Krishna.

Two numbers sung by Jayashri were captivating and brought out in full measure the raga bhava backed by lyrical beauty — ‘Sondam Verundo’ in Nattakurunji and the main item, ‘Rama Neeve Gatiyani’ in Suruti. The alapana of Suruti was sated with the delicate swirls, sweeps and stopovers.

Crisp alapanas

Jayashri’s vocal chords were at their best that day, and with ease, she traversed the length and breadth of the ragas she had chosen, be it a crisp alapana in Kalyani or a generous Dharmavati, the niraval sections or swara junctures.

Most of the compositions rendered by Jayashri are not frequently heard on concert platforms.

Jayashri selected Ambujam Krishna’s pieces in Tamil, Telugu, Sanskrit and Hindi. The songs were set to music by the late K.R. Kedaranathan, and Jayashri made a special mention about the Suruti kriti which attracted her because of its poignancy and how she learnt it from the late Kamala Kailasanathan.

‘Ranganai Thuthi’ in Chakravaham, ‘Nindra Thiruk-kolam Kaaneer’ in Kalyani, ‘Para-mukhamu Chanura’ in Kanada and ‘Janaki Vallabha Namasthe’ in Dharmavati figured in the main part of the concert, apart from the above mentioned kritis.

‘Pozhudhu Miga Achuthe’ in Revati and ‘Milthe Ja Ek Bar Mujhe’ in Bageshri led to the conclusion.

H.N. Bhaskar on the violin maintained good rapport with Jayashri in the alapana, niraval and swara parts.

Yet one could not but feel that softer and less fast phrases could have made his Suratti more beautiful.

Arun Prakash and Gopalakrishnan on the mridangam and kanjira respectively, extended excellent percussion support with smooth, solid and stimulating beats.

Full throated singing

Kala Prasad from Connecticut, the U.S., offered a tribute to Ambujam Krishna at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Main Hall. The launch was a little shaky, but Kala braved it with her full throated articulation. ‘Varanamukhane Va’ in Nattai was an apt opening item. The Mayamalavagowla kriti ‘Sangeetha Devathe Saraswati’ set to Adi talam was her next choice.

Ambujam Krishna’s compositions are known for their simplicity and piety-packed lyric. Mostly in Tamil, the composer’s soul searching for the succour could be easily felt in her choice of expressions. Kala tried her best to bring the religious zeal to the fore and in the bargain, her raga alapanas and swaras turned out to be simplistic. ‘Tyagaraja Swami Padambujam’ in Atana had a gaiety. The softness of Hindolam was vivid in ‘Maargam Kaatita Vaa Maragathavanna’.

Prefixed with a crusty raga essay, it was ‘Varavenum Manamirangi’ in Simhendramadyamam. Kala added intensity to her rendition here with a niraval and swaras at ‘Nidi Vaeror Ariyen’.

The Sahana number ‘Unnarualai Enni Enni Uruguthe’ in Rupakam brought out the composer’s profound knowledge. After the popular ‘Guruvaryurappane’ in melodic Ritigowla, Kala outlined Thodi with a few well-etched strokes to move on to ‘Gati Neeye Endru Kadaridum’, a touching piece with tender niraval and swaras at ‘Karuna Sagaran Neeyandro’.

The concert’s focus was obviously to share the expressions of the unassuming and humble composer with minimum frills or flounce. Understandably, the strength of the lyric overpowered the concert, almost camouflaging the fragile voice and minor trepidations.

Neela Jayakumar and Jayakumar on the violin and mridangam were perfect supports for the concert that had its heart set more on bhakti than paraphernalia.