The concert was dedicated to the late Kanchipuram Venkatavaradhan.
The discerning rasika knows that Thamizh Isai is close to Sanjay Subrahmanyan's heart, and that he has been espousing its cause in his own resolute way. Over the years, he has given thematic presentations of composers numbering about 10 in the language. They include some of the lesser-known ones.
The latest to draw his attention is Divya Prabandham, a 4,000-verse collection of the devout outpourings on Lord Sriman Narayana by saint composers, popularly known as the Azhwars. Sanjay presented the theme at his concert for Jaya TV’s Margazhi Maha Utsavam at the Kumara Raja Muthiah Hall on December 6. Nineteen Pasurams, giving representation to all the 12 Azhwars, (including Andal), were rendered.
The artist held sway right from the moment he began with the conventional ‘Pallandu’ of Periyazhwar in Nattai. Hymns soaked in devotion flowed smoothly and serenely one after another. While the diction was near-flawless, the linguistic and musical modulations vied with each other adding lustre to the rendition.
‘Kondal Vannanai’ of Thiruppaan Azhwar followed in Yadukula Khambodi, leading up to the central suite comprising three raga essays — Simhendra Madhyamam, Sama and Bhairavi.
After a vibrant delineation of the first-named raga, a Madhurakavi Azhwar verse (Naavinaal Navitru) in salutation of his Guru Nammazhwar was sung as a Viruttham in the same raga, ahead of Nammazhwar’s ‘Maya! Vamanane! Madhusudha!’ With the lyrical pattern, opening with three vocatives, lending vast scope for musical play, Sanjay explored it to the hilt to conjure up enthralling sequences, conjoining each of the vocatives with the phrase that followed - ‘Nee Arulaay’ (You bless me). It was a thoughtful and wonderful selection and the idea was executed perfectly and he capped it with an energetic and aesthetic swara sequence. The alapana in Sama brought in a poignant mood. Two Pasurams from Andal’s Naachiyar Thirumozhi, set to Misra Chapu, were presented with aplomb.
An evocative and elaborate Bhairavi was a prelude to Thondar Adippodi Azhwar’s evergreen ‘Pachai Maamalai Pol Meni’ from Thirumaalai. The niraval at ‘Oorilen Kaaniyillai’ brought to the fore the Azhwar’s feeling of helplessness and plea for succour to Lord Ranganatha, and
The popular ‘Mannu Pugazh Kosalai’ of Kulasekhara Azhwar in Ragamalika was rendered briskly before Thirumangai Azhwar’s ‘Virperu Vizhavum’ on the Lord of Thiruvallikkeni, in Sindhu Bhairavi. After a verse each of the ‘Mudhal Azhwars,’ the concert drew to a close with a Pasuram of Thirumazhisai Azhwar from Thiru-chandha Viruttham in Surati.
S. Varadarajan on the violin and Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam embellished Sanjay’s performance with their admirable support.
That the artist sang it all without reference material drew spontaneous applause from the audience, and it was a just reward for his diligent effort and delightful presentation.
Sanjay, in his address, dedicated the programme to the memory of Kanchipuram M.N. Venkatavaradhan, a renowned exponent of the musical form of Divya Prabandham. The singer recalled the contributions made by Venkatavaradhan and regretted that the stalwart never really got his full due from the mainstream Carnatic music world.