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Command over tone

Harish Bal
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Recital Carnatic vocalist P. Unnikrishnan’s concert in Kochi was a musical homage to Swati Tirunal. Harish Bal

Swati Tirunal Day was celebrated in Kochi recently. Carnatic vocalist P. Unnikrishnan presented a few exquisite compositions of the bard. He started his concert with ‘Siva Siva enarada’ in Pantuvarali raga. The niraval on ‘Agamamula nutiyinchi’ saw many flourishes that culminated in a volley of spontaneous swaras.

After some initial hiccups to get the acoustics right, the singer settled for ‘Sarasa samamukha’ in Kamas, a Swati kriti. This turned out to be a euphonious experience, with the singer showing full command over tone and rhythm. The right ‘kalapramana’ heightened the impact of the rare number.

Niraval again seemed to be his favourite mode of improvisation for the day, as he had the same for most of the items. It became most dramatic in ‘Ramanamamane’, which was accented by loud beats on the mridangam. This was for ‘Bantureeti kolu’, the Tyagaraja kriti in Hamsanadam. He was supported ably by Palakkad Mahesh Kumar on the mridangam and Tripunitura Radhakrishnan on the ghatam.

Kalyanavasantham raga was elaborated in swift sancharas that ended in the upper shadjam. It was utterly delectable as the artiste maintained pitch and tone to achieve a wholesome effect of ‘shrutishudha’.

‘Nadaloludai’ in Roopaka tala was the Tyagaraja kriti that was presented. As far as the lyrics were concerned, the vocalist’s style of singing left much to be desired.

The musician’s favourite ‘Bhogeendra shayinam’ was sung to stupendous applause. The play on the vakra and jhanda passages was nothing short of splendid.

Unnikrishnan relied on sustaining notes and broad phrases in his delineation of Charukesi raga that was followed by the popular kriti ‘Kripaya palaya shoure’. Avaneeshwaram Vinu followed it up on the violin remarkably, the fast sangatis marked with clarity.

The rather short taniavarthanam, which started off with Mahesh systematically progressing with the jathis, moved on to a creative one with Radhakrishnan.

Unnikrishnan, who is popular with the masses for his light melodies, charmed yet again with ‘Pashyati dishi dishi’ (Maduvanti), ‘Pibare Ramarasam’ (Ahir Bhairav), and ‘Eppo Varuvaro’ (Jonpuri). The show stealer in the last segment was ‘Pavana gurupavanapura’ sung at a slow pace in Hamsanandi raga. The programme was organised by Kerala Fine Arts Society.


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