What is it that distinguishes a veteran from other artists? The answer will be ‘classicism,' evolved through vision and dedication. Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan proved it in every composition that he rendered, in every sangati that he offered, in every phrase that he chiselled, in every swara that he sang.
He commenced the classical evening with the Ritigowla kriti of Tyagaraja, ‘Ragaratnamalikache' in Rupaka Tala. The pallavi alone had seven distinct, yet pleasing sangatis. The niraval was at ‘Bhagavathoththamulu kooti.' The kalpanaswaras drew out the essence of the raga. V.V. Ravi on the violin was gentle, yet solid in his swara handling. Trichur Narendran on the mridangam was exceedingly soft, yet decidedly supportive.
The main piece of the evening was a weighty Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Shanmukhapriya. Seshagopalan didn't leave out a single sanchara of the raga. The alapana was rendered in two segments each by the vocalist and the violinist.
Ravi's violin too sang with Seshagopalan. There was a short and sweet griha bhedam too. Seshagopalan's tarasthayi sancharas were breathtaking. The tanam that followed was like water cascading down the rocks into the pool. The mridangam vidwan had to be a mute spectator for full thirty-seven minutes. Perhaps he could have been involved in the tanam!
‘Nalam Tharum sollai Naan kandukondaen; Narayana enum Naamam' was the Pallavi set to Khanta Triputa, rendered in Ragamalika. The Valaji and Kapi that TNS Krishna, who gave vocal support, offered were matchless. Ravi's responses were equally absorbing. The Thani that Trichur Narendran played was exceptional, yet restrained - an illustration for a sound Thani.
Earlier Seshagopalan rendered ‘Sarasaksha' of Swathi Thirunal after an extensive alapana in Panthuvarali. The manthrastayi sancharas excited deep emotions.
The niraval was at ‘Bhamini' and he has the rare gift of doing equal justice to rhythm and melody. If Purandara dasa's ‘naa ninna dhyaanadoliralu' in Kanada was poignant, ‘Ranganayakam' of Dikshitar in Nayaki was solemn and ‘Ksheera Sagara' of Tyagaraja in Devagandari was intricate. ‘Rajuvetale Jutha Murare' in Thodi - one of the Srirangam Pancharatnas of Tyagaraja in Rupakam had a short niraval and swaras at ‘Sevanu kani Suralu.'
His rendering of the Thiruppavai, ‘Pullinvaay' in Atana was appropriate. After ‘Kshirasagara Vihara' of Tyagaraja, he rendered ‘'Sangu Chakra Gadha Pane Dwaraka Nilayaachyutha,' from Mahabharatha on the Saranagathi Thathva.
Seshagopalan wound up the superb concert with a Kabir Bhajan, ‘Haribolo Haribolo.' The audience must have had the experience of Nadopasana.
After an extensive alapana that had all flavours of Kharaharapriya, V. Remaa rendered ‘Pakala Nilabadi' bringing out the meaning very clearly. M Rajeev on the violin too etched a charming alapana. Remaa chose ‘Manasuna' for kalpanaswara. The swara kuraippu with panidha ending was lovely. This young artist has made tremendous progress in the past couple of years.
Her Lathangi alapana was all-encompassing, in that it covered the entire gamut of the raga. Niraval and swaras were at ‘Alarmel Mangai Manala.
Rajeev's portrayal was sharp. The thani by Kumbakonam Swaminathan was excellent. The korvais he offered were exceptionally musical.
Opening with a Sahana Varnam, Remaa offered ‘Banturithi' after a brief sketch of Hamsanadham. In the Kalpanaswaras, she could easily scale the upper Panchama. Syama Sastri's ‘Nannu Brovu Lalithe' also came out charmingly. So did the breezy ‘Theliyalethu Rama' and ‘Makelara Vicharamu.'
The concluding section comprised ‘Srinivasa Thiruvengatamutaiyan,' the ‘Yamuna Kinare' Bhajan of Swati Tirunal in Misra Peelu, a Thillana and ‘Krishna Nee Begane.'