Shanthala Subramanyam presented clever rhythmic variations with good song selection
Shanthala Subramanyam is a very gifted and well-trained flautist. Her concert at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Mini Hall, organised by the Kartik Fine Arts, was thoroughly enjoyable on many fronts, particularly so with respect to the song selection and intelligent rhythmic variations.
The concert started off with the Saveri varnam ‘Sarasuda’, which was peppered with many tishram variations in the charanam. This was followed by the Nattai classic, ‘Sarasiruha’. There was an extensive swara exercise culminating in an exciting korvai that was flawlessly executed in khanda nadai.
Next, there were brief but evocative alapanas in Kannadagaula by the flautist and the violinist, H.N. Bhaskar, followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Sogasu jooda’. This was followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Ennanadu chotumu’ in Kalavati.
Kalyani was taken up as the sub-main item; after a brief alapana, the artiste rendered Tyagaraja’s ‘Amma ravamma’ in Khanda Chapu , again with energetic swara passages. Bhaskar’s alapana stood out for being short and sweet. His playing in this concert was characterised by shruti shuddham and sensitivity.
Tyagaraja’s classic ‘Ragasudharasa’ in Andolika was chosen as the main item and Shanthala’s alapana started off with repose. She painted a convincing picture of the raga, showing its distinctive features very well. This was followed by the tani avartanam. Melakavari Balaji’s accompaniment was very good throughout and the tani was marked by an excellent adherence to the kalapramanam (tempo) from start to finish. K.V. Gopalakrishnan, a superb kanjira player, is known for his creativity; his tishram variations during the tani stood out for their aesthetic appeal. The concert was rounded off with ‘Shrinivasa tiruvenkata’ in Hamsanandi.
Shanthala could work on her over-blowing technique as well as flute selection to avoid the swarasthana shortfall in the upper sthayi, a frequent occurrence in south Indian flute concerts — in this concert it was noticeable from ri upwards. This would enhance the overall effect of her concerts. (Uday Shankar is a biomedical design engineer by profession. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org)