Mixture of indifference and commitment
THE GROSS and abrasive aspects penetrated the musical consciousness of Sriram Gangadharan. "Chalagallala" (Aarabhi) "Raakaa-Sasivadana" (Dakka) and "Marakathavallim" (Kambhoji) songs and he alapanas of Aarabhi and Kambhoji proclaimed himself as bidding farewell to the sensitivity of Carnatic music. V. Sanjeev (violin) provided that ingredient that was lacking in the vocalist's equipment. H. S. Sudheendran was the mridangist.
From the beginning Sowmya's approach to the demands of a performance was perfunctory. It was niggardly versions of Bilahari (Kamash-Varalakshmi) and Bhairavi ("Janani-Maamava") that she dished out with absolute unconcern for the listeners. The concert was deprived of the inspirational traits and dynamism to make it top class. The alapanas were merely a run of sancharas.
The exposition in general hovered over the dull periphery of formula music. There was a screen of indifference in the way she sang the songs. Narmada (violin) faithfully went along with the vocalist. Neyveli Narayanan, through the briskness of melkalam beats tried his best to put some life into the vocalist's effort. The tani with G. Ravichandran (ghatam) was brief.
Unni Krishnan led to two streams of thought. The attitude of the over-rated icon seemed to be the complacency that his popularity will always stay with him even if he presented a mediocre performance.
The other was the dismay of genuine music lovers that the values on which the Carnatic music edifice rests are not as indestructible as believed all the time. The light music genre is eroding fast its foundations. Sankarabharanam (Manasu-Swaadina) was elaborated and his long search with tonal sophistry could not find anywhere its exquisiteness.
The way he sang this and the other items "Karikalabamu" (Saveri with an equally extensive alapana expired at essence "Samuganunilva" (Kokila Varali) was such as to tempt acceptance, though famished of aesthetics. It was mentioned that the programme was by Unni Krishnan, but the real prime performers were Mannargudi Easwaran (mridangam) and R. Suresh (ghatam).
But for them Unni Krishnan's music would have fallen feat. Right through the songs and in the tani the mridangam was not mere energetic sound. It vibrated with the chords of percussive power and penetration.
Delightful lightning patterns sprawled all over the auditorium. Easwaran provided laya enchantment which wound through the whole concert. Embar Kannan, the violinist was a shadow of Unni Krishnan with the same inspirational paucity.
Obedience to tradition
Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi (violin duet) have been strictly groomed to obedience to the Lalgudi school to such an extent that even manodharma in alapanas and Kalpana swaras seemed to be pre-determined. But the disciplinary process is highly commendable for it never leaves anything to chance.
The tradition was well reflected in their programme consisting of "Sitamma-Mayamma" (Vasantha) "Meena-Lochani" (Dhanyasi) and "Dakshinamoorthe" (Sankarabharanam). The Dhanyasi alapana by Vijayalakshmi and Sankarabharanam by Krishnan lived up to the reputation of the Lalgudi system. Srimushnam Raja Rao (mridangam) and Karthick (ghatam) set aside their normal exuberance and played subdued accompaniment.
Vociferous or subdued, duration and intensity of clapping is an indication to the musician of the impact of singing on the listeners.
Finding the first four songs "Pranamamyaham" (Gowlai) "Pullinvaa-Keendanai"(Atana), "Visalakshi" (Pantuvarali) and "Sankari-Neeve" (Begada, preceded by an insipid alapana) not evoking satisfactory audience response, Sudha Raghunathan launched or Karaharapriya.
She appealed to the raga at the top of her voice to unfold its rakti and finding it to be stoic, she worshipped it with flowery brigas with the same result, and so she climbed down to close the alapana. When Karaharapriya was unrelenting to the overtures of Sudha, the darling of the rasikas, was it going to be partial to the violinist Raghavendra Rao?
Finally Sudha thought that Sri Thyagaraja might give an insight into the royal path and she sang the Kriti "Chakkani-Raja-Margamu". Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan (mridangam) played with anticipatory alertness. R. Raman provided morsing.
T. V. Sankaranarayanan was as exuberant as ever giving full exercise to his vocal chords. "Vatapi" (Hamsadwani) "Kshemam-Kuru" (Darbar) and "Sakala-Graha-Bala" (Atana) gave him full scope to loosen his voice to go on an exhaustive and throbbing coverage of Kalyani. The spread of his manodharma was regal collecting sheaf after sheaf of highly energised sancharas followed by the song "Needu-Charana" with matching swaras. Mysore Nagaraj on the violin provided high-sounding and harsh lines of the raga. Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam (mridangam) and Selva Ganesh (Kanjira) capered, frisked and gambolled in their accompanying role. The team gave the audience a sportive display of robust music.
Blending her music with dexterity and exposition of the ragas Varali and Bhairavi with refined sancharas Sangeetha Sivakumar established her growing stature as one to be watched. Her expository process was not a sleight of voice but driven by creative impulses.
The alapana song "Upachaaramu" neraval and swaras were throughout aglow with the distilled radiance of Bhairavi. Though this item held much attention in interpretation of "Enneramum" (Devagandhari) "Seshachala-nayakam" (varali) and "Marubalka" (Sriranjani) sensitivity was matched by tonal intensity. Quietly seated was the young violinist Charumathi Raghuraman, but her melodic notes spread all over the auditorium. Studded with handsomely visualised sancharas, her solo version of Bhairavi revealed its bewitching visage in rich and varied shades and in soft idiom. Conferring sukham at every of the phrase.
In short Charumathi Raghuraman was exceptionally open to Bhairavi's emotional impressions. Anoor Anantakrishna Sarma (mridangam) kept his wing in good shape.
Gayatri Venkataraghavan's performance was pleasing to the ear mainly due to expressive restraint. This was well displayed in the alapanas of Kalyani (``Bhajare-re-chitta") and Karaharapriya (``Rama-neeyeda").
The delineation was focussed on the conventional sancharas, calm and controlled with her gentle voice appealing in the higher octave. The neraval for the Karaharapriya song line "Tana-sowkhyamu" was packed with grace and elegance. Padma Shankar's violin support stressed cosy ties with the vocalist. Trivandrum Hariharan's (mridangam) play was pertinent to the needs of the vocalist.
Shoba Shekar brought a casual approach to her concert, her articulation ineffective as it looked like mumbling. "Jalandara" (Gambiranattai), "Rave" (Todi Swarajati) "Sri-Abayamba" (a manipravala song of Dikshitar) formed the list of songs rendered listlessly. A.G. Gnanasundaram (violin) and Nellai Balaji (mridangam) were the accompanists.
Carnatica Brothers Sasikaran and Ganesh allowed their gesture to speak more about them than the quality of the music. "Brochevarevare" (Sriranjani) "Karuna-elagante" (varali) "Divakara-Thanujam" (Yadukulakambhoji) and "Emanine" (Mukhari) were the songs rendered. Mukhari was the alapana item. S. Vijayaraghavan (violin) and Erode Nagarajan (mridangam) were the accompanists.
Saraswathi Rajagopalan presented a plain veena recital containing the items "Teliyaleru" (Dhamuka) "Janani" (Ritigowla) and "Hiranmayive" (Lalita) with an alapana Karukurichi Mohanrangam (mridangam) and Sivaramakrishnan lent percussive support.
Saketaraman, with his keen musical sense, framed the alapanas of Bilahari (``Paridanamichchite") and Todi (``Dachukovalena") with élan. There was a good combination of Karvais, madhyamakala and durita kala sancharas negotiated with confidence and ease. He would do well to pay more attention to vocal articulation on pure akara. Satish Kumar on the violin was responsive to the musical statements of the vocalist. Ananth (mridangam) was adequate.
Sikkil Gurucharan acquitted himself as a good artiste by the way he sang the alapanas of Sahana (Rama-ikanannu) and Simhendra madhyamam (Rama-Rama-gunaseema).
He has a strong voice put to proper use while singing. "Manasuloni" (varamu) and "Padavini" (Salakabhairavi) were the other items that drew attention. He was well supported by Melakkaveri Thyagarajan on the violin and R.V. Gopalakrishnan on the mridangam.
Formula music with aesthetics scaled down marked the concert of Suryaprakash. With the rendering of "Sri-Kamalambaya" (Bhairavi) and "O-Rangasayee" (Kambhoji preceded by an alapana) the recital moved indolently to the accompaniment of S. Chandran (violin) and Trivandrum Balaji (mridangam). Shankari Krishnan was more absorbed in presenting her erudition than on sensitivity of expression. Sahana, (E-vasudha) Poorvikalyani (Tillai-Chiadambaram) and Madhyamavati (Rama-katha-sudha) provided her enough scope to make her concert wholesome musically, but she placed more emphasis on vocal animation. Shertalai Sivakumar (violin) was very aggressive on the strings. Mannargudi Subramaniam was agreeably supportive.
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