Dexterity sparkled in Shrinivas's mandolin recital but interpretation lacked sensitivity.
A good concert is that which leaves a feeling of the artist's sensitivity in his interpretative process. In accordance with this, in the recital of Mandolin Shrinivas for Sri Krishna Gana Sabha in the Gokulashtami series, what could be salvaged were the three short sketches of Sankarabharanam, Thodi and Madhyamavathi meant for the ragamalika pallavi.
The rest of the programme was rhetorically acrobatic with fingering virtuosity prominent rather than aesthetic promptings.
The quality level to a large extent was determined by the kind of the contribution from the accompanists — Haridwaramangalam Palanivel (thavil) S.V.Ramani (ghatam) and Srirangam Kannan (morsing).
Inherently titillation-prone, the presence of the thavil stalwart fuelled the motivation of Shrinivas to punch-pack his rendering of kirtanas and swaras.
The song selection — ‘Mooladhara Moorthy' (Hamsadhwani), ‘Maaru Balka' (Sriranjani), ‘Edari Sancharintu' (Srutiranjani) and ‘Intanuchuvarnimpa' (Gundakniya) – was not at all at fault.
Mainly directed to Palanivel, it was the overbearing percussion oriented kalapramana thrust given to them that was manna to the thavil-led laya group. It was somewhat of a banter between them and Shrinivas with the violinist V.V. Srinivasa Rao watching the show as a silent partner. There was a streak of faultiness in everything that Shrinivas played.
This propensity was so overpowering that even the most majestic and grand Ananda Bhairavi kriti, ‘Tyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam,' looked anaemic at the hands of Srinivas.
The beauty of the raga to be credited with an alapana was not as enchanting to him as Srutiranjani. Every aspect of music's aesthetics was scaled down with disdain.
Dexterity and profundity sparkled in every item but only the interpretation lacked sensitivity.
The faith of V.V. Srinivasa Rao (violin) in the inviolability of the Carnatic mode was well preserved in presenting beautifully-phrased pallavi ragas Sankarabaranam, Thodi and Madhyamavathi.
As the recital progressed a rueful thought crossed the mind — the traditional wisdom of choosing the ideal percussive instrument that would go well with the tonal strength of the main artist. There was a mismatch between the sound level of mandolin-violin and that of the thavil.
Nagaswaram and saxophone concerts have thavils to maintain high sound balance. For softer music — vocal and instrumental — violin and mridangam decibel-wise, stand well-wedded.