That Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan is a class apart comes to the fore in the just released DVD ‘One Raga One Kriti.'

Dark clouds loomed large outside the Infosys Hall RKM School, Kodambakkam, this past Sunday, and inside it rained music. The occasion was the release of Mudhra Music's ‘One Raga One Kriti' DVD, featuring Khambodi ragam (‘Sri Subramanyaya Namasthe'-Rupakam-Dikshitar) performed live by Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan in 1996.

The release was preceded by a veena concert by Seshagopalan, who began with a sedate ‘Meru Samana' (Mayamalavagowla-Adi-Tyagaraja).The niraval and swaras saw the mathematician in him emerge now and then.

Imaginative touch

Anandabhairavi was given royal treatment with his fecund imagination. The ending line ‘Tripuresi Guru Guha Janani…..' of Dikshitar's Kamalamba Navavarnam was played in vilamba kala with a funambulist's precision, proving his mastery over laya.

The painting with master strokes of the Purvikalyani sans fast paced traverses up and down, the frets showed the different league he belonged to. With ‘Anandanadamaaduvar Thillai' (Neelakanta Sivan) and TNS, what more can one ask for! It was revelry in arithmetic in the swara segment, with Trichur C. Narendran excelling in his anticipation.

After ‘Amba Nilayidakshi' (Nilambari-Adi-Dikshitar), the DVD release got off to a start with A. Natarajan, former director, DDK, recalling his 48-year association with TNS and praised the husband-wife duo Bhaskar and Radha Bhaskar of Mudhra for their innovative programmes and involvement in promoting classical music with earnestness.

Releasing the DVD, vidwan P.S. Narayanaswamy was confident that this DVD will be useful for both music students and rasikas. He highlighted the fact that nowhere had TNS repeated any of the phrases during the one hour alapana. Mridangam maestro T.K. Murthy, in his assertive style, said TNS was an intelligent musician who belonged to a great tradition starting from Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar and Sankara Sivan.

Seshagopalan, returning the felicitations, said that every musician has great responsibility as a teacher as well.

After the release , Seshagopalan continued his performance. Most of the crowd had left yet the musician in TNS saw him take up Khambodi (‘Oh Ranga Sayee'-Adi- Tyagaraja) with child-like enthusiasm but with the maturity of a maestro. The tani of Narendran and Ernakulam Ramakrishnan was short yet crisp.

A treat for the senses

The DVD ‘One Raga One Kriti’ has to be seen and heard listened to, to be believed. Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan’s One Raga One kriti concert Recorded 15 years ago in Umatic tapes, it had to be preserved from fungus all these years with special efforts, said Mudhra Bhaskar.

Seshagopalan’s concert is always nonchalance laced with sincerity. Once on stage, there is no stopping him, crowd or no crowd. He maintains keeps his eyes wide open throughout having eye ball contact with his accompanists and the audience, yet is always musically attuned. Though adventurous, his dedication and strict adherence to classicism has kindle s the rasika waiting to look forward for a new experience in his alapanas, niravals and swaras in every concert. This DVD has all the elements described above.

The introductory portion has file clippings of rivulets, mountain streams, water falls, meandering rivers, still waters of a lake and lastly the sea with waves at times gentle, at times ferocious. These shots describe TNS’s music in a nutshell.

His one hour delineation of Khambodi without any break at any sthayi says it all. He weaves a magic web around madhyamam and then at the panchamam. The thin and the thick of the raga’s jiva swaras, the sonorous phrases spun around the nihshadam touch new heights. The sancharas in makaram with a closed mouth singing reaches a crescendo when he shoots a sharp briga covering the raga lakshana, hitting the bull’s eye. It would have been rigmarole for any one but for TNS it is diving into the ocean of music to find fresh pearls. to be given away to the discerning rasika. Fifty minutes of non stop singing yet his forays in the thara sthayi towards the end were packed with energy.

S.D. Sridhar plays a regulated Khambodi. ‘Sri Subramanyaya Namaste’ is the kriti and the niraval as expected is at ‘Vaasavaadhi.’ finds TNS as right as rain. He then caps the kriti with riveting swaras oozing with the raga.

It is heartening to listen to exchanges between Vellore Ramabhadran (mridangam) and Late V. Nagarajan (ganjira).