His industrious approach and perseverance are Valivalam Venkatraman’s strengths
Valivalam Venkatraman (Venkatraman) may not be a top-notch artist, but he is full of promise and perseverance. That he was in the formidable and exalted company of Dr. Narmadha (violin), Mannarkoil Balaji (mridangam), Venkataramanan (ganjira) and Madipakkam Murali (ghatam) worked in his favour.
Venkatraman had to bow to the mandate of singing Tamil compositions alone at this venue. He was bang on target and began with a varnam (‘Anname’) in Arabhi. That he is a student of Thanjavur Sankara Iyer was made known when he rendered two of his compositions, ‘Maha Ganapathi Vaa Vaa’ (Nattai) and a thillana as the finishing piece in Ananda Bhairavi.
Saramathi flowered through ‘Arula Vendum Thaye’ (Dandapani Desigar) and the raga-defining song in Vachaspathi (‘Parathpara’) accounted for a composition of Sivan. Kiravani was elaborated with some power-packed firm sangatis and the song was ‘Vaananai,’ a Thevara Pathigam of Thirunavakkarasar (tune set by T.M. Thyagarajan).
After a pleasing alapana of Sankarabharanam, and the tanam thereafter, where he shared concert space with Narmadha (violin) in phases, Venkatraman took up Gnanasambandar’s ‘Pidiyadhan Uruvumai’ arranging the words intelligently to cast it in the form of a pallavi.
One problem that Venkatraman faced was that he was on tenterhooks when it came to executing his final korvais. Swarakorvais should be conceived as complicated, rendered with ease and felicity. His sincerity will help him tackle this.
Narmadha played fine expositions of Sankarabharanam and Kiravani and was always at home during the swara sessions. The laya vidwans accompanied with well-controlled sound levels that never was an onslaught on one’s listening sensibilities and played for the pallavi with expertise.