Ponkunnam Ramachandran's concert adhered to the classic Semmangudi bani
Veteran musician Ponkunnam Ramachandran is a leading exponent of the Semmangudi bani. The musician received his training from the late music scholar Prabhakara Varma and is known for his academic approach to music. He began his concert with a varnam in Sahana. Madhyamakala tempo is his trade mark and crisp swaraprasthara his forte, which he proved with Mayamalavagowla and Pantuvarali ragas later during the concert.
His ‘Mahaganapathim' in raga Natta had all the essential musical phrases. However, the vocalist's mannerism of moving away from the microphone while singing, took away the body of a good amount of music during the raga elaboration of Mayamalavagowla.
‘Thulaseedalamulache' in Roopaka tala had kalpanaswaras that were systematic and progressive. Alleppey Chandrasekharan Nair on the mridangam played in tandem with Tripunithura Gopalakrishnan on the ghatam. Dikshitar's ‘Shri Viswanatham Bhajeham,' which has often been described as the king of ragamalikas came next. It was embellished with raga and prabandha mudras.
This was perhaps the only rendition that did not rise to the desired level. A Tulaseevanam kriti ‘Nagabhooshanam' in the melodic raga Nagaswaravali was well received by the audience.
‘Vishalakshi visweshi,' sung in Kashiramakriya (the name for Pantuvarali in the Dikshitar School) had a neat niraval and crisp swaras to go with it.
Ramachandran's approach to the alapana of Todi was cogent and germane to the raga bhava, whereas Thiruvizha Ullas resorted to rambling through the same patterns. There were a couple of highpoints when Ullas did strike a chord with the main artiste though.
A plea to Sree Rama
‘Dasarathe nee rinamu' is Tyagaraja's plea to Sree Rama. The niraval for ‘Bhaktileni kavi jala' was handled with precision. The taniyavarthanam by Chandrasekharan Nair and Gopalakrishnan was noteworthy for its brevity and coordination.
‘Sapashyat Kousalya,' a rarely sung piece, was set to a light vein of Jonpuri. The poignant mood of raga Vrindavana Saranga was expressed in ‘Atmanivedanam Abhirama Hare.' Surprisingly the vocalist sang a tillana in the same raga. After the vibrancy of the tillana was the mangalam in a deliberately slow tempo.
The concert held at Kalikotta Palace was organised by Poornathrayeesa Sangeeta Sabha in memory of V.V.M. Nambudiripad and Ratnam Thampuran.