'Thana varnamala', a CD comprising 12 varnams presented by veena vidvan Kalpagam Swaminathan with support from her disciples K.R. Shrievats and Gomathi Shankar was released past Saturday evening at Srinivasa Sastri Hall, Luz ,by, Pappu Venugopala Rao, Secretary, Music Academy. Receiving the first copy Vidvan P.S. Narayanaswamy complemented Kalpagam Swaminathan for her rich repertoire. that included many rare kritis and varnams. He also made special mention about the patanthara suddham of her style and her playing the vivadhi.
Musicologist and vidwan S.R. Janakiraman recalled his student days at Kalakshetra when Kalpagam Swaminathan was teaching there. He recalled the patience with which she handled the students.
Pappu Venugopala Rao regretted that not many young learners were in the audience although the hall was filled to capacity. Accepting the felicitations, Kalpagam Swaminathan laid stress on regular practice and said she has not passed on all that she knew about the art.
This was followed by a veena recital by Kalpagam Swaminathan and her disciples who had supported her in the CD. Age seemed to disappear as the veteran played the veena with incredible azhutham and nirnayam. It was a humbling experience as the 86-year old vainika with unerring precision captured the ragas. In fact she offered the distilled essence of the raga and the bhava of the sahitya eschewing swaraprasthara. This recital proved the age old belief that playing of ragas and kritis with emotional content intact can keep the audience riveted, almost in a state of meditation.
The Mandhari varnam (Mysore Vasudevachar) played with agility and youthful zest made the audience sit up and take notice. Thodi that came next was vintage stuff with rakthi phrases. ‘Mahaganapathim Vande’ (Muthuswamy Dikshitar) was followed by ‘Sri Guruguha Taarayaasumaam’ (Devakriya-Dikshitar) and ‘Sarasvatyaa’ (Chaayaagaula-Dikshitar). Anandabhaiaravi’s (Kamalamba-Dikshitar) sketch bore the stamp of authenticity, with a judicious mix of meetu. The landing on Nishadam was haunting in the anupallavi line ‘Malaimagal Aruliya Saktivel Murugan’ of the song ‘Kaliyuga Varadan’ (Brindavani-Thooran). The concluding Surati piece raised the emotional bar.
Thanjavur Subramaniam (mridangam) gave support, unobtrusively. He has also played in the CD. The CD produced by Brindavan Audio ( 94440 34268 & 98414 45572) comprises 12 varnams in as many ragas, some very rare and never heard before. The price has not been mentioned. Ably supported by her disciples, Kalpagam Swaminathan has also included a printed script of all the varnams which is a bonus. An archival piece this is a must in the library of music students, vidvans and of course connoisseurs of pure music.