With VVS leading, the violins, mridangam and ghatam became one mould.
Breaking from convention has its virtues if the musician can justify it; in what way and to what extent is again a matter of aesthetic perception. At the end of the day, such liberty should be a delightful exploration rather than a rude shock to the listener.
A listener at the evening concert of V.V. Subramanyam, V.V.S. Murari, T.V. Gopalakrishnan and Thiruppunathura Radhakrishnan can describe it only as an alloy of pure music.
Taking off with a varnam composed by himself, in Kiravani, Ata Talam at vilambam and duritam, VVS began a 150-minute Journey to the Centre of Music at the Arkay Art Centre, playing for Chennai Fine Arts. The choice modulation given by the violin duet, caught on immediately by the percussion, transported the audience to the halls of a Philharmonic Orchestra. The mridangam accompanied with flawless adherence to the tempo, anticipating every turn and pause.
At the end there was an element of drama when VVS revealed to the audience that TVG was hearing this piece for the first time, and declared that it was time the roles were reversed, so that he would play what TVG would signal in the mridangam. After listening to the notes raised by the mridangam by manipulation of the stretch tension on the left membrane, VVS caught the tune, and continued with 'Pranamami-aham Sri Gauree sutam' (Gowlai, Adi, Mysore Vasudevachar) to a lusty cheering from the audience. There was total resonance. (In resonance, two bodies are so closely tuned in pitch that the total power produced by them far exceeds the sum-total of the outputs produced by each). Muthuswamy Dikshitar's composition, 'Soma-sundaresam', in a samashti, tuned to a western scale (Sankarabharanam- Sa,ni, dha,ni-ni-dha pa,ma,, dha,ma,,) was enjoyable. A short sketch prefaced a composition by Tyagaraja after this. The speciality of the item, (as VVS pointed out) was that this was the only composition in raga Kaikkavasi, and only M.S. Subbulakshmi had sung it on the stage before this. After a brief excursion into raga Nayaki in Dikshitar's 'Ranganayakam', there was a brilliant exposition of Dhenuka.
Over nearly 30 minutes, the hall was immersed in a mood of sublimity with Tyagaraja's 'Teliya leru Rama, Bhaktimargamunu' - forcing one into introspection on whether one realises the path of true devotion. In the rich kalpanaswara build-up, the listener just rode on a laya wave, getting carried places, abandoning the need to keep the talam in the fingers, as violins, mridangam and ghatam all turned into one mould, self-surrendered its identity and became one with Nadabrahmam. The Rhythm Duet took over for a full quarter hour following this, offering a sumptuous feast of exotic dishes of sollukattus and gatis. The ghatam scattered pearls all round as the mridangam roared like a lion and rumbled like distant thunder, at samam, 1/2 and 1/4. The closing pieces were 'Gurulekha' in Gaurimanohari, a devotional composition of the artist's making, a Meera bhajan and a vintage of Madurai Mani Iyer's “Note.” It is the genius of the leader in any enterprise that he takes along all his team members, and helps them showcase their forte even as he makes use of their capability to churn out a wholesome product. VVS continues to be in the forefront.
May his tribe increase!