B.R.C. IYENGAR

Scholarly rendition marked Prema Ramamurthy's concert.

The vocal concert of PremaRamamurthy arrangedby Kalasagaramlast week reminds oneof the music of yesteryears.In retrospect it is very clearthat the art is undergoingand has indeed undergonealterations, and this changeis more often disquieting;Prema's music under thesecircumstances is rewarding.Prema is a consummate artistein the sense that she isnot only an eminent artistbut also is a composer, directorand teacher. It must,however, be accredited thather sonorous voice showssigns of fatigue with age althoughscholarship andlearning yet maintain theirstanding. The impress shehas attained as a student ofBalamurali is evident in herstyle. Her manodharma musicis pregnant with ideasand innovations, which ather present state is ratherdifficult to pronounce. Overall,technique seems to takepredominance over melody.

Technique

Take for instance the varnamin saveri with which shecommenced; she presentedit in adi thalam, thisra nadai.The item adopts itself tosuch mathematical variationas long as the fractions andmultiples of the thala asoriginally set, agree. For instancean ata thala varnamcan be rendered in misrachapu. One has to respectthe ethics in that it should berendered as set by the composer.The items were awayfrom the beaten tract andtherefore were interesting.Ragas like asveri (Rara MaIntidaka) kumudakriya(Ardhanariswaram), bindumalini(Enthamuddo) wereinfrequent and were pleasurable.These ragas were accompaniedby short alapana,which gave a comprehensiveswarupa.

The highlight of the concertwas Sri SubramanyayaNamasthe in Kamboji set toRupaka thalam, vilamba kalam.The alapana was elaboratein the three octavesand included the fine embellishmentsof the melody.The neraval was convincing.

In her swarakalpana, Premaadopts the style of Balamurali,which sometimessounds bizarre; it gives theimpression of having relentlesslyrehearsed, rather thanbeing spontaneous. At timesshe has a tendency to overplay the alapana as well asswarakalpana. Brevitywould certainly enhance thedignity of the concert, unlessthe elaboration has qualifyingquality in variation.

The concert had the balancingand comprehensivein having chosen differentvaggeyakaras like PurandaraDasa, Annamacharya, LalgudiJayaraman, and Thyagaraja.In essence it was apleasing concert to be rememberedfor some time.

B.S. Narayanan gave gratifyingsupport and enrichedthe concert with his innovativecontribution. KrishnaPrakash on the mridangamwas soft as one should be andSrikant on the kanjira wassatisfying.