A few sruti lapses somewhat marred what was otherwise a superb concert by Maharajapuram Ramachandran. The vocalist’s natural assets – rich and pleasing voice and the inheritance of an appealing style – mixed with veteran accompanists on either side (Nagai Muralidharan on the violin and Mannargudi Easwaran on the mridangam) resulted in a thoroughly enjoyable concert
A brisk Harikhambodi (‘Rama Nannu Brovara’ of Tyagaraja) set the pace for the concert, with sprightly swaras at the traditional point, ‘Mepulakai.’ The Dhanyasi that followed was easily the best part of the performance—even better than the main course, Mohanam (‘Rara Rajiva Lochana’ of Mysore Vasudevachar). It was a sweet alapana in which the singer produced a profound bass effect with his closed mouth. Dhanyasi received a more elaborate treatment than it usually gets, which was welcome. Papanasanam Sivan’s ‘Balakrishnan Pada Malar’ followed, in which Ramachandran brought forth some unusual sangatis, notably on the word ‘vyakulam’. Unfortunately, there was no niraval or swaras and the offering would have been more fulfilling with them. The Mohanam alapana that followed was a ‘typical Maharajapuram Mohanam,’ with all the familiar phrases. Enjoyable, but a bit of the beaten track, and Ramachandran would have done better to have striven for more manodharma-based alapana. The rendition of the composition was a shade less weighty than the alapana and again suffered from absence of niraval. The swaras were initially somewhat formula-based, but later turned out to be more free-flow.
As the third major offering, Ramachandran presented an RTP in Madhyamavati. The alapana and tanam were ‘standard’. But by this time people started streaming in for the next programme and there was so much commotion in the auditorium that Mannargudi Easwaran had to thump his mridangam a couple of times and ask, “what is this?” A Tisra Jati Triputai Pallavi was taken up, but perhaps because of the distraction, there were a few lapses on sruti and laya.
Nagai Muralidharan’s play had a stamp of seniority on it, except in the Dhanyasi alapana, where the singer’s rendition was better. Easwaran had no difficulty in providing nourishing support.