Friday Review » Music

Updated: October 27, 2012 12:48 IST

Suffused with the spiritual

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ADMIRABLE PROWESS: Unni Krishnan Photo: K. Ramesh Babu
ADMIRABLE PROWESS: Unni Krishnan Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

Avoidable wordplay notwithstanding, Unni Krishnan’s concert was a finesse-filled exercise.

Talking about a monumental Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi rendered by Dr. R. Ganesh in a recent concert, (discussed on May 4) I had mentioned that the prevailing trend is to prefer shorter and lighter versions of the RTP. An effective way of achieving it is to select some lighter and unusual melody.

And that’s exactly what vocal maestro Unnikrishnan did in his recent performance at Hamsadhwani, where he chose the raga Saramati for rendering an exceptionally colourful RTP, immediately following the main number, which was Dikshitar’s weighty kriti, ‘Tararakeswara Dayanidhe,’ in Sankarabharanam. Saramati is permanently engraved in the seasoned rasika’s mind as the melodic base for Tyagaraja’s heart-warming song, ‘Mokshamu Galada,’ and the finesse with which Unnikrishnan rendered the Ragam and Tanam, created an atmosphere highly charged with spiritual emotion.

But the single-line text of the Pallavi was a clever wordplay (‘Vande Veda Saaram, Ati-Sundaraa-kaaram Sivam,’ the third and fourth syllables combining as ‘Saramati’) which seriously diverted the listeners' attention and diluted their concentration. As a result, the Pallavi, which could have been a heart-melting climax, sounded like a clue in a crossword puzzle and actually turned out to be an anti-climax!

Mind you, I am not making this statement in a negative spirit at all. In fact, if not viewed in the light of the highly charged scenario created by Unnikrishnan’s own marvellous rendering of the Ragam-Tanam and the intense spiritual flavour inherent in the chosen raga, the Pallavi was quite an amusing and pleasing piece of music. But I do earnestly wish to listen to that marvellous might-have-been climax -- so let me just request Unnikrishnan to sing a Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi in Saramati once more, without that Sudoku element.

Charumati (violin), Anantha R. Krishnan (mridangam) and N. Guruprasad (ghatam), played their roles so wonderfully well!


Horizons and hazards of 'fusion'August 3, 2012

Thank you for the crisp review. The picture shows B Purushottaman as the Khanjira artist, but there is no mention of him in your list of accompaniments in this concert??!!! Is this a file picture or from the same concert?

from:  Nandini
Posted on: May 15, 2012 at 18:31 IST

Couple of weeks ago Sri. Unnikrishnan performed here in Sanjose, CA for South India Fine arts. And he rendered the same RTP, with same pallavi. You have expressed / written exactly the same way I felt when I heard the pallavi specially the last or ending part 'saramati'. It gave me an incomplete feeling. Nice article. Congratulations.

from:  Mohan
Posted on: May 12, 2012 at 03:09 IST

This is a very fine point and I compliment the reviewer.
I find many such instances of 'depthless' wordplay in Carnatic music...even some big names
are culprit in this regard. The way the reviewer has placed in context the musician's excellent
Ragam and Tanam again makes it very constructive criticism.

from:  R Sachi
Posted on: May 11, 2012 at 11:19 IST
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