Friday Review » Music

Updated: January 2, 2014 20:03 IST

Those deep vocals

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S.P. Ramh. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao
The Hindu
S.P. Ramh. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao

S.P. Ramh prefers an unhurried approach to music, a refreshing aspect indeed.

If there is one characteristic in S.P. Ramh’s qualities that stands out, it is his amazingly deep, sharp and penetrating voice. Indeed!

To such a point that Ramh’s recital occasioned a comparison with M.D. Ramanathan, who probably comes closest. Arguably, the latter’s vocals did not quite carry the same degree as Ramh’s sheer power and resonance. But also, you may quite reasonably stretch the comparison between them beyond their natural attribute. There is also this great resemblance to MDR in Ramh’s unhurried approach to singing, which is so refreshing given today’s accent on speed and sensationalism. It cannot be gainsaid that such a style is particularly appropriate to Carnatic music, with such a predominant lyrical component.

The Lalgudi Jayaraman disciple (for 25 long years) commenced his performance with a varnam of his guru in Atana, ‘Ramanai Raghunathanai.’ The contrast to the sharp notes of Atana was the song in Gowla and Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Mahaganapathi ravathumaam,' followed by kalpanaswaras.

The sketch of Dhanyasi was ever so appealing. Ramh’s manner of singing ‘Balakrishnan Padamalar Panivorkidarillai,’ evoked all the emotions appropriate to this devotional piece. Continuing in that vein was the niraval on 'Gokulam Brindaavanam.’

Syama Sastri’s ‘Sarojadalanetri’ in Shankarabaranam, with a slow and steady tempo seemed tailored for vidwans such as Ramh. As the alapana gathered pace, it was quite noticeable that the artist could so comfortably reach the notes in the lower octaves. It is somewhat of a puzzle why he does not capitalise on this advantage more often. It might well be Ramh’s view that a sparing recourse to such variations is quite sufficient in one concert. The niraval on 'Samagana Vinodini,’ and kalpanaswaras were appealing embellishments to a composition that is probably among the more refined – at any rate more popular - of Syama Sastri’s works.

'Subramanyena Rakshithoham' in Suddhadhanyasi was the interlude between proceedings hitherto and the RTP in Hemavatthi that followed. The pallavi ‘Nandagopala Mukunda,’ was set to Adi followed by a ragamalika in Bilahari and Sindhubhairavi. 'Govinda Govinda Hare’ and thillana in Dwijavanthi were the concluding pieces.

Padma Shankar on the violin, Neyveli Skanda Subramanian on the mridangam and Alathur Rajaganesh on the ganjira provided superb accompaniment.

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