Scholarly rendition marked Prema Ramamurthy’s concert.
The vocal concert of Prema Ramamurthy arranged by Kalasagaram last week reminds one of the music of yesteryears. In retrospect it is very clear that the art is undergoing and has indeed undergone alterations, and this change is more often disquieting; Prema’s music under these circumstances is rewarding. Prema is a consummate artiste in the sense that she is not only an eminent artist but also is a composer, director and teacher. It must, however, be accredited that her sonorous voice shows signs of fatigue with age although scholarship and learning yet maintain their standing. The impress she has attained as a student of Balamurali is evident in her style. Her manodharma music is pregnant with ideas and innovations, which at her present state is rather difficult to pronounce. Overall, technique seems to take predominance over melody.
Take for instance the varnam in saveri with which she commenced; she presented it in adi thalam, thisra nadai. The item adopts itself to such mathematical variation as long as the fractions and multiples of the thala as originally set, agree. For instance an ata thala varnam can be rendered in misra chapu. One has to respect the ethics in that it should be rendered as set by the composer. The items were away from the beaten tract and therefore were interesting. Ragas like asveri (Rara Ma Intidaka) kumudakriya (Ardhanariswaram), bindumalini (Enthamuddo) were infrequent and were pleasurable. These ragas were accompanied by short alapana, which gave a comprehensive swarupa.
The highlight of the concert was Sri Subramanyaya Namasthe in Kamboji set to Rupaka thalam, vilamba kalam. The alapana was elaborate in the three octaves and included the fine embellishments of the melody. The neraval was convincing.
In her swarakalpana, Prema adopts the style of Balamurali, which sometimes sounds bizarre; it gives the impression of having relentlessly rehearsed, rather than being spontaneous. At times she has a tendency to over play the alapana as well as swarakalpana. Brevity would certainly enhance the dignity of the concert, unless the elaboration has qualifying quality in variation.
The concert had the balancing and comprehensive in having chosen different vaggeyakaras like Purandara Dasa, Annamacharya, Lalgudi Jayaraman, and Thyagaraja. In essence it was a pleasing concert to be remembered for some time.
B.S. Narayanan gave gratifying support and enriched the concert with his innovative contribution. Krishna Prakash on the mridangam was soft as one should be and Srikant on the kanjira was satisfying.