Prema Rangarajan chose rarely heard Madhurambika Vibhakti kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar. Tyagaraja kritis were the focus of V. Sankaranarayanan's recital.
As part of the Music Trinity Celebrations, Saraswathi Vaggeyakara Trust organised a vocal concert by Prema Rangarajan at Narada Gana Sabha.
The theme was Madhurambika vibhakti kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar. These kritis are not as commonly heard on concert platforms as his other compositions.
The recital began with ‘Maha Ganapathim' in Nattai. With the Syamala Dandagam lyric ‘Jaya Mathanga Tanaye' in Bilahari as a prologue, ‘Sri Madhurapuri Viharini' was the first number in Rupaka talam.
‘Matha Maragatha Syama' in Kalyani was followed by ‘Sri Madhurambike Sive' set in khanda chapu which had swarakalpana at ‘Somasundareswara Hrudaya Vilasini'.
A précis of Devakriya (Suddha Saveri) preceded ‘Madhurambamsam Rakshathumam' (Adi).
‘Madhurabam Bhajare' in Sthavarajam (Shadvithamargini) in Adi talam, ‘Sri Madhurambikaya Rakshitoham' in Atana (Misra Chapu) and ‘Madhurambikaya' in Begada (Misra Chapu) moved in quick succession.
Prema Rangarajan presented the raga essay of ‘Desisimhavaram' (Hemavati) in detail. ‘
Madhurambikayam' was the kriti with the adjunct of niraval and swara sessions on the anupallavi ‘Chidananda Rasikayam'. The concluding number was ‘Madhuramba Jayati' in Paras, Misra Chapu.
The programme could be considered as a reference point on Dikshitar's priceless oeuvre composed in praise of Goddess Madurai Meenakshi. All the kritis were heavy on piousness and poetic fervour to describe the greatness and divine beauty of Meenakshi.
It is superfluous to say that the raga images were vividly brought forth in every number in no inexact terms.
Prema's swaras and raga alapana could well be called as an educative exercise for students of music on how to approach and present them in right measure.
Her swara strains in Kalyani and the kuraippu notes in Hemavati with dhaivatam were signs of her musical command.
Padma Shankar proved to be a perfect foil to Prema.
Her quick responses in Kalyani, Suddha Saveri and Hemavati were noteworthy.
Chidambaram Balashankar kept the right proportion of rhythm throughout and added a perfect tani to his credit.
Presented with finesse
Pantuvarali and Bhairavi were the focus of the engaging vocal concert by V. Sankaranarayanan. For a musician with assignments abroad, Sankaranarayanan seems to be doing the balancing act with ardour and assurance. Thought the programme was dedicated to the Music Trinity and Sankaranarayanan's theme was Tyagaraja, he also included kritis by others. He has the faculty to visualise the raga structure with creditable creativity and finesse. His raga exposes were powered by soulful karvais integrated effectively with accelerating brigas in the right places. Therefore, his essays were pleasing. His voice has been trained well to reach the mandra and tara sthayi without stress or strain.
The Pantuvarali expression was vivacious and vivid; the phrases were appropriately chosen and delineated. ‘Enna Ganu Rama Bhajana' of Badrachala Ramadas lay more stress on the charanam with intense swara strands. The other non-Trinity composition was ‘Evanyaro Ariyene' in Khambodi, a slow padam of Kavi Kunjara Bharati that began with a viruttam ‘Pachchai Mamalai Pol Meni' Azhwar pasuram.
Bhairavi unfolded with ample scope for detailed alapana. ‘Upacharamulanu' of Tyagaraja was selected and the niraval point was ‘Aparimita Nava Ratnamulu' with swaras. Here, Sankar could have limited his kizhkala swaras and devoted a better deal for the second speed swaras. In the bargain, he had to conclude with an unwieldy and long swara chain for the finale. He needs to exercise his time management skills in future.
There were many interesting kritis chosen. ‘Intachala', the Begada varnam provided a zesty launch to the concert. ‘Janaki Ramana' of Tyagaraja in Suddha Seemanthini with rich swarakalpana came next. ‘Evarani Nee' in Devamrutavarshini and ‘Padavini Sath Bhaktiyu' in Salakabhairavi were the other fine selections.
V.V. Ravi on the violin could extend justice to his part with sincerity but could have been little more effective. B. Sivaraman and H. Sivaramakrishnan on the mridangam and the ghatam were too dynamic at the start and almost incessantly creating noise which was a tad annoying. Luckily this was brought under control later with proper audio balancing.