AS A child prodigy who rose to spectacular heights, Sankaran Namboodiri, has gone through the peaks and troughs in his career. From a champion in youth festivals, to a low profile academic life in Palakkad, his career with the All India Radio, Namboodiri may not have touched the moon. And one reason for this must have been because his bearing ground has been Kerala.
The gifted musician, now settled at Palarivattom, Kochi, would hopefully be a regular performer at the city venues. His recent concert held under the aegis of the Brahmana Sabha, Edappally, at the Gayathri Kalyanamandapam, was simply captivating.
His first piece, `Varamukham... ' in Hamsadwani, set to Roopakathalam, did not offer much for a start with mundane phrases in the `swaraprasthara' and `mukthaippam.' He, however, warmed up gradually, gliding effortlessly through the subsequent pieces. `Saraseeruhasanapriye... ' in Nattai and `Sadhinchane... ' in Arabhi virtually put the concert on the right track.
The best part of Sankaran Namboodiri's singing style is his full-throated timbre and never resorting to unwanted modulations. He also has a penchant for Tamil `krithis,' and surprisingly never chose a single Tyagaraja composition. In `Narayana divya naamam... ,' in Mohanam, by Papanasam Sivan, Namboodiri displayed flashes of creativity in the `alapana,' keeping the `swaraprasthara' very short. Another feature this vocalist could well avoid is the over dramatisation in the `alapana,' especially in the high octaves.
After `Etiyochanalu... ' in Kiranavali, Namboodiri stupefied the audience by going for an elaboration of Hamirkalyani, a Hindustani raga, something rarely attempted by Carnatic musicians. As he essayed on the `ma dha pa ma ga ri' usage often, he explored every shade of the raga as it is set in the Carnatic idiom. Violinist Edappally Ajith Kumar, matched the vocalist phrase to phrase even in the swaraprasthara.
The gem of a `krithi' by Subbaraya Shastri `Venkatasaila vihara... ' came forth in vibrant colours. Namboodiri rightly chose the exact `kalapramana' for the `krithis,' as demanded by the emotion and appeal. `Jayati jayati bharatamata... ' has the unique fame of being broadcasted in the voice by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer on the eve of IIndependence. Slight slips in the `sahitya' (for instance `pathita pranalola' was sung as `pathitha ganalola') could be overlooked. `Bhagyada Lakshmi baramma... ' in Sri and a tillana in Desh was enough to satiate a knowledgeable crowd.
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