The Saint's genius highlighted
SAHITYA WEALTH, musical resources and structural grandeur represent the zenith of Saint Thyaragaja's genius. To a knowledgeable rasika, Pantula Rama's performance for the Thyagaraja Seva Samiti, by the song selection represented these three aspects. The first song, "Guma Guma Gumayani" (Sowrashtram) from the Nowka Charithram, describing the ecstasy of the gopis with its lilting structure gave a pleasant start.
Similarly, the majestic-sangatis-laden Kambhoji kirtana, "Mari Mari Ninne" provided a glimpse of the saint in handling tightly-knit sangatis. As for the sahiyta emotion, the Kalyani kriti, "E Varamaduguduraa" opens out his heart bemoaning that he could ask for no boon for Anjaneya, Satrugna, Bharata, Lakshmana and Sita had already appropriated all the services. The Pancharatna, "Saadhinchene" stands for the grandeur of musical resources. Kalyani and Kambhoji were the alapana effort.
These three items formed the core of Pantula Rama's concert. With her easy-flowing voice and vocal comfort, helped by Telugu bhashagnana, her programme revealed that she understands the beauty of the Saint's sangita and the depths of the sahitya sentiments. As for concert standard, she would do well to strive for visranti. She had in Usha Rajagopalan a very competent violinist whose raga versions of Kalyani and Kambhoji were brisk and vibrant. P. Satish Kumar (mridangam) played with great restraint in the matter of sound production. The beats were really soothing.
Though Carnatic music has undergone different styles, its purpose luckily has remained constant. Self-expression is in the setting of sub-severing artistic values. The contemplative aspect of Sangita is the ideal, but slickness of presentation has introduced simplistic devices to catch audience attention.
Sangeetha Sivakumar, in her concert for the Rukmini Arts and Music Trust, struck a balance between technical competence and artistic demands in her elaboration of Saveri and Kalyani. She covered well the length and breadth of these two ragas to place their prominent niches before the listeners. All the familiar sancharas found their place imparting traditionalism.
The choice of the kirtanas too contributed much to the wholesomeness of the recital. The Kedaram piece, "Aananda Natana Prakaasam" lent an air dignity by its ponderous movement. "Durusuga" in Saveri stressed the pleading emotion of Syama Sastri. "Nidhi Sala Sukhama" in Kalyani reflected both the sangita and the ascetic vairagya of Sri Thyagaraja. B. U. Ganesh Prasad on the violin lent intense and compelling accompaniment with optimisation of professional expertise. Melakkaveri Balaji's mridangam beats were stirred by percussive sensitivity.
It would be too sweeping to tar every young artiste as mediocre. At the earlier stages of their presence before the public, their potential for artistic progress, not their fledgling effort, has to be taken note of. It is in this bracket that Saswathi Prabhu's performance showed indications of the lines of development in the years to come.
For her musical effort sprang from the strong foundation of kirtana training. It is from this base that the superstructure of alapanas, neravals etc. have to be attempted.
She sang, "Nannu Palimpa" (Mohanam), "Ganamoorthe" (Ganamurti), "Aandavane" (Shanmukhapriya) with precision. Mohanam and Shanmukhapriya ragas were taken up for vinyasa. Experience has to confer the feel of the aesthetic aspects, which does not appear to be beyond her grasp. Lakshmi Venkataramani, the violinist, ploughed a lonely furrow.
It was the energetic mridangam support from Sankaranarayanan that added pep to the performance.
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