K. J. Yesudas
AN OVERFLOWING hall at Rasika Ranjani Sabha gave a standing ovation to Sanjay Subramaniam after his scintillating two-hour concert in which Shankarabharanam alapana and Tyagaraja kriti, "Swararaga Sudha" scaled new heights. And to have achieved this with a common place raga and kriti redounds to the vocalist's credit in an unsurpassed manner.
He delivered a `googly' too! After an expansive neraval at "Mooladhara" when he gave a pause, sans swara was an odds-on. But Sanjay upset the odds with a spell of swaras (slow and fast) at "Guru te... Mokshamura... ", last line of the charanam. It was quite a surprise though most welcome to his rasikas.
Again, after this marathon exercise, Sanjay showed his resourcefulness by switching on to a slow-paced and emotive Papanasam Sivan's kriti, "Chittam Irangada" in Sahana. Over the last bit, he continued the devotional atmosphere with a ragamalika Sanskrit slokam and wound off with Purandaradasar's "Nanda Tanaya Govindana Bajipadu Anandavada Mitayi" in Bageswari. It was as sweet to the audience as to the composer! But how many recognised this as a Devaranama until the name `Purandara' occurred.
After a Begada varnam, Sanjay sang Matrubhutam's "Nee Mati Sallaga" in Anandabhairavi. From the manner of his Malayamarutam alapana it was fairly obvious that the supporting kriti would be Tyagaraja's "Manasa Yetalu" with a brief neraval and swaras at the charanam "Kalilo... ."
Nagai Muralidharan's violin display emphasised the accompaniment dharma, without however sacrificing his own prowess when on alapanas, especially Malayamarutam and Shankarabharanam.
Guru Karaikkudi Mani's mridangam exercise was a role model for students not only in soft but also in thundering beats without a pain on the ears. The teermanams evoked praise, and Sanjay was more than ecstatic on a few occasions at the laya precision. Guru's exercise proved a worthy inspiration for A. S. Shankar on the ghatam.
Rasikas of K. J. Yesudas are used to his making brief speeches in between songs to emphasise the holiness of Carnatic music, importance of correct pronunciation, "for each swara represents a divine icon" and the danger of pollution that the sacred art faces. Such lec-dems may not be necessary in a concert. These may be voiced at special sessions.
Besides the devotional pieces in the last session of the three-hour concert, Yesudas had included compositions of the Trinity. As usual, he started off with "Vatapi" (Hamsadhwani - Dikshitar) with inundating swaras at Pranavaswarupa.
The follow-up kriti was an old Tamil composition in Ritigowla, which was preceded by a moving alapana. The Todi alapana was dwelt at length and Tyagaraja's not frequently heard song (Yesudas sings rare kritis which appear to be his speciality), "Neevanti Daivamushadanana" with swaras at the pallavi.
His rendering of "Prananatha" in Shoolini (another rare favourite) with swaras at the anupallavi, "Venuganamuche... " was good.
The Keeravani kriti, "Karunakarane Siva Sankarane" after an extensive alapana and "Pahijagajanani" (Vachaspati - Swati) went home with the audience for the devotional fervour injected in the rendering.
S. R. Mahadeva Sarma (violin), Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam (mridangam) and Thrippunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) were the accompanists.
When T. V. Sankaranarayanan sings, his involvement is total. An authentic inheritor of his uncle-mentor Madurai Mani Aiyar's bani, the swara pattern evokes repeated applause from his followers. In his long session at R. R. Sabha, he included an RTP in Andholika (Tisra triputa). Indira Natesan's "Mahaganapate" (Hamsadhwani) and Suddananda Bharathi's "Sakala Kala" in Kedaram proved to be good warming-up pieces.
Latangi raga received extensive treatment as also the kriti, "Venkataramana" (Papanasam Sivan), "Yaru Ummaipol" (Atana) and Muthiah Bhagavatar's Gauda Malhar song, "Sarasamukhi" won appreciation from a good turn out.
Sankaranarayanan sang Tyagaraja's homage to Anjaneya, "Pahiramadoota" in Shadvidamargini - some books have put the raga as Vasantavarali - with his wonted intensity. The vocalist went all out in Kapi for Tyagaraja's "Intasowkhyamu" and a Tilang devaranama.
Violinist M. S. Sundareswaran, percussionists Umayalpuram Mali (mridangam) and Trichy Murali quite enjoyed the vocalist's style of swara rendering and played most enthusiastically.
Speed with clarity
Virtuosity, not at the expense of melody or musical grammar, and speed with clarity are some of the valuable assets which have won flautist Shashank universal acclaim, and is the most sought-after artiste in the country and abroad.
After a spell of jet speed swaras, he would, in a trice, start a round of most slow paced phrases of depth on the long flute. A true art is concealing art and that is Shashank's prowess.
His programme at Rasika Ranjani Sabha revealed manodharma of a high order, and the RTP contained any number of flashy ragas rendered with such quickness - the raga swarupa was contoured well - that even the most discerning ears failed to keep track of - the RTP was in Misrachapu in Khanda nadai.
Lalita alapana contained all the nuances and Shashank tried to play (subject to the limitations of the wind instrument) all the idioms and syllables of the human voice, and strove hard to get as near as possible to it.
Poochi Iyengar's Kanada varnam was the rousing starter followed by a fashionable alapana in Mohanam for Tyagaraja's "Evarura" and swaras. It was a concert, which pleased both the laity and the learned. Violinist Anuradha Sridhar, without pretensions to match the talents of a genius, played her supporting role well enough, and when Shashank asked her to play Dharmavati alapana independently, she did a neat job. Percussionists Parupalli Phalgun (mridangam), M. Govindarajan (ghatam) and Mysore Gururaj (morsing) played an interesting tani avarthanam.
Bout of swaras
Vishranti was the keyword in T. V. Ramprasadh's vocal recital. After a long Saveri alapanam, he sang Periyaswami Thooran's "Muruga Muruga" sedately with swaras at the pallavi. Tyagaraja's "Manasuvishya" is not sung often and the artiste did well to pick this after a stylish alapana in the alluring Nattukuranji.
Both the alapana and song rendition merited praise, but the effect was getting lost as the artiste indulged in a long bout of swaras. The Ashtapadi rendering looked more like a recitation. "Tapasya Kausalya," Tyagaraja's Yadukula Khamboji composition, "Hecharikagarara," and a lilting Brindavani tillana penned by Balamuralikrishna gave the concert a lively finale. Veteran Sikkil Bhaskar excelled in subtle phrasings in the alapanas and gave solid support to the rising vidwan. Tanjore Ramdas's tani was brief but bright.
Without making pretensions to any finesse Carnatica Brothers (Sasikiran and Ganesh) delivered the musical lines clearly, and sometimes loudly too, revealing total involvement and exhibition of scholarship imperceptibly. They struck the best form when rendering Syama Sastry's classic swarajati, "Kamakshi Amba" in Bhairavi in the style of the sisters Brinda (late)-Mukta duo when the former would sing in lower stayi and Mukta in the higher.
Sasikiran, with a voluble sariram, sang in the lower stayi with Ganesh in the higher key. The sahitya and swaras rendered flawlessly, the exercise brought out the spiritual fervour of the composer as also his erudition. Ganesh's alapana was wholesome.
Sasikiran's Kamatch alapana for Mysore Vasudevachar's "Brocheva" was both caressing and stylish. It was as well that the song was rendered without omitting the chittai swaras (scripted by the composer himself). Sasikiran's Mohanam alapanam was noted for well-paused sancharas and the song was Tyagaraja's evergreen "Nanupalimpa".
Swaras were crisp and brief. Papanasam Sivan's "Naanoruvilayattu Bommaya" (Navarasa Kannada) and "Jagajjanani" (Ratipatipriya) gave variety to the concert. Raghavendra Rao's violin support was just adequate while the percussionists Satishkumar (mridangam) and H. Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam) played an effective tani being conscious of the time factor.
Maharajapuram Ramachandran's programme contained several of his dad's favourites including Madurai Krishnaswamy's mega ragamalika, "Nalinakantimati" and Swati Tirunal's "Pahijagajanani" in Hamsanandi for which Ramachandran rendered an expansive alapana and swaras. Madhyamavati alapana was rendered unhurriedly bringing the raga contours clearly.
Syama Sastry's "Palinchu Kamakshi Pavani" was sung at an equipace with neraval and swaras at the charanam, which sparkled. Poochi Iyengar's Begada kriti, "Anudinamunu" with neraval and swaras at "Kanakana... " registered. V. V. Ravi (violin) and Ramesh (mridangam) were the accompanists.
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