Inclination to vilambit added charm to Lakshmi Rangarajan’s concert.
Lakshmi Rangarajan’s concert provides the context to highlight a welcome feature in Chennai’s music scene. How extraordinary it is that almost without exception, performances at Sabhas start at the scheduled time! How unlike this happy situation is from political and literary gatherings, where the tendency seems in effect to penalise punctuality for the sake of appearing to be more accommodative? And how odd it is that given our strong attitude of self-adulation about classical music in general, this singular aspect does not seem to receive any mention?
The event also called to mind the poignant observation playwright Girish Karnad made during the December 2010 release of The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Music of India.
On that occasion, Karnad had lamented the perilous state of the public transport system in our cities, which he said could erode audience patronage to the performing arts.
The actor’s remarks could not have been more apt. For on Tuesday, setting out in advance of an hour was not enough to cover the distance from The Hindu premises on Annasalai to the concert venue - Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Mylapore. The vocalist, in her wisdom, walked from the Mylapore tank to the venue, tambura in hand.
Reaching 30 minutes behind schedule and the strains of Ritigowla from the violin by Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan beckoning your attention, it was futile to speculate on the items that had preceded.
But on the basis of what followed in the next 90 minutes or so, it would be safe to surmise that the compositions in Hamsadhwani and Bilahari must have been equally absorbing.
Lakshmi Rangarajan has a strong predisposition to develop her expositions incrementally. If anything, she errs on the side of the vilambit, if not the ativilambit, as was the case with the renowned M.D. Ramanathan. This quality lends a distinct beauty and rare authority to her singing.
Such an element was quite marked in the delivery of the Neelakanta Sivan song, ‘Oraru mukhane annai Umaiyal thirumagane.’ The Poorvikalyani kriti ‘Gnanamosagaraada,’ and ‘Soundararajam aasraye,’ in Brindavanasaaranga followed in a similar vein. Pallavi Seshaiyar’s composition, ‘Yentani vinnavinturaa, yevarito moraliduduraa,’ was a distinct presentation in the faster tempo.
The unusually long ‘chittasvaram’ is an embellishment added by T.M. Thiagarajan, the vocalist’s guru.
The essay of Khambodi thereafter was an extremely pleasing delivery. Gopalakrishna Bharati’s ‘Thiruvadi charanam endringu naan nambi vanden, devadi deva,’ and decorations on the appropriate lines and kalpanaswaram were a true delight.
The percussion solo between the more accomplished J. Balaji on the mridangam and Harihara Sharma on the ganjira gathered steam in the course of the spell.
The viruttam in Mohanam, Saveri and Behag was followed by Guru Surajananda’s composition in Tamil and set to tune by TMT. ‘Muruganin maru peyar azhagu. Anda muruvalil mayangudu ulagu,’ was full of poetic expression of devotion.