Worthy concerts, and a deserving honour for Suguna Varadhachari, marked the 10th anniversary of the Charubala Mohan Trust.
Charubala Mohan Trust, founded by M.Chandrasekaran in memory of his mother, celebrated its 10th anniversary for three days at Raga Sudha Hall. V. V. Sundaram inaugurated the celebrations. Suguna Varadhachari was conferred the title, ‘Sangita Kala Praveena,’ by P. S. Narayanasami.
PSN mentioned that Suguna was both a teacher and a guru, clarifying that the teacher would adhere to the demands of a curriculum out of necessity, but the guru would be more flexible, liberal and comprehensive, in terms of building the repertoire of the student.
He also made specific mention that her niravals were purest in its form, were ranked very highly and had bhava as its mainstay.
In her acceptance speech, Suguna mentioned that more than the honour, the institution that dispenses the honour enhances the value of the title, and profusely thanked the trust for making over this presentation to her.
Her concert on the subsequent day exhibited vidwath in terms of depth and breadth — an immediate testimony to the tributes paid to her. The three ragas she chose, Chandrajothi (‘Sasivadhana,’ Tyagaraja), Madhyamavathi (‘Parthasarathi,’ Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar) and the ageless Sankarabharanam (‘Sankaracharyam,’ Dikshitar) showed her varied potential. The niravals at ‘Galamuna’ (Mayamalavagowlai,) ‘Sarva Dharma’ (Madhyamavathi) and ‘Paramaagnana’ (Sankarabharanam) had their delectable and organised shifts in kalams that combined admirably with lucidity in diction. The innumerable two-kalai avarthana swaras for Sankarabharanam terminating with a simple finale indicated her laya-control.
The quiet lead she provided to her disciple Vidya Kalyanaraman, during the Sankarabharana alapana was a noble gesture by a caring guru. Vidya’s impromptu response was an unscripted, flow-at-will raga vinyasam. Hemalatha (violin) made her impressions during the alapanas with her distinctive approach. Thanjavur Subramaniam (mridangam) and Venkataramanan (kanjira), the laya-duo, treated the songs with reverence and provided a thani of ideal duration with a towering crescendo marked by a fine sense of understanding between them.
On the guru’s lines
K. R. Saranathan, a zealous and ardent disciple of Madurai Mani Iyer, framed his concert after the style of the icon. The songs — ‘Thathvam Ariya Tharama’ (Ritigowlai-Sivan), ‘Nadha Thanu Manisam’ (Sitharanjani-Tyagaraja), ‘Appa Rama Bhakti’ (Pantuvarali-Tyagaraja) — drawn from Mani Iyer’s favourites reminded that the persona of the master reigns concerts even today. Saranathan is endowed with a barrier-free voice, which he deployed with equal ease to reach the lower and upper octaves in his raga exploits of Pantuvarali, Valaji and Shanmughapriya. The springs of intuitive swaras for Pantuvarali that culminated in a stunningly long korvai in Rupakam was lauded by the audience.
He also presented a tanam and a pallavi in Shanmughapriya, ‘Saravana Bhava Siva Gurubarane’ in Khanda Jati Thriputai to show the extent to which he had indulged his mind in laya.
One, however, longed for a freshly composed swaram as an urgent substitute to the existing number. Tiruvallur Parthasarathi supported on the violin.
Thiruvaidaimarudhur Radhakrishnan (mridangam) and Srirangam Kannan (morsing) as laya accompanists, played many taut sarvalaghu patterns of seasoned rhythmic quality.
Mangala Nagaswara Isai by Thiruppambaram Brothers Swaminathan and Meenakshisundaram saw the portrayal of a Bhairavi that was suffused with melodic phrases. The free and fervent exchanges in the raga essays were aimed at maintaining an engaging tempo and fluency. One also witnessed the simultaneous intermingling of beauteous phrases and tonal modulations here and in the swara sessions that bore the stamp of quality. ‘Suddha Seemandhini’ alapana palpably had too many Thodi prayogas, though the song ‘Janaki Ramana’ was played without blemish. The virtual crowding of swaras towards the end of the Bhairavi kriti (‘Sri Raghuvara Sugunalaya’-Tyagaraja) only tended to blow away the assiduously created Bhairavi effect. Segal Balashankar and Kurumbalur Manikandan who lent thavil accompaniment produced some pulsating sollus typical of the thavil and yet showed a guarded approach during the rendering of the songs.
Two one-hour concerts by youngsters were also held. Kamakshi (vocal) gave a concert of firm substance and Master Krishnaprasad (harmonium) showed that he possessed a pair of able and sensitive hands. G. N. Desikan, a senior of stature, gave a morning concert.