ASSESSMENT The accompanying maestros were in full form that evening. So was singer Suryaprakash. M. V. RAMAKRISHNAN
Assessing the credentials of vocalist Suryaprakash a few months ago, I had underlined a couple of basic factors which govern his elegant and forceful style of singing: the extremely fluent flow of his swara improvisations, which is the result of his effectively assimilating the superior streaming technique of his illustrious guru T.V. Sankaranarayanan; and his ability to project a particular phrase on an immensely large and colourful canvas in the niraval phase of a song.
In that context, I had recalled one of his memorable past performances, as follows: “All the spellbound rasikas who had heard Suryaprakash rendering Tyagaraja's song ‘Inta Sowkyamani' in the raga Kapi at the Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in July 2007 -- with the beautiful phrase ‘Swara Raga Laya Sudha...' taken up for elaboration -- are never likely to forget that heart-melting experience. The violin and mridangam maestros M.A. Sundareswaran and Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam, and morsing master Srirangam Kannan.... had helped him to lift the spirit of the audience sky-high.” (www.thehindu.com Friday Review, Chennai, June 30, 2011, ‘Both original and traditional').
So when I found that the same violinist and mridangam vidwan were to accompany Suruyaprakash in his concert at the same Sabha this past Sunday morning, I naturally looked forward to a very rewarding encore; and I wasn't disappointed. And this time they projected a truly cosmic vision with the expression ‘Bhooloka Vaikuntam Idiyani' in St. Tyagaraja's kriti ‘O Rangasayee.' The raga alapana preceding the song was equally beautiful, with the vocalist and violinist vying with each other to explore the exquisite colours of Khambodi. The masterful percussion solo (with TVB at his best, supplemented effectively by Aniruddh Atreya on the ganjira) extended the meditative mood of the morning. The concert quickly got into top gear with the varnam, ‘Vanajaksha' (Reetigowlai, Veenai Kuppier) and the kriti, ‘Kaa Vaa Vaa' (Varali, Papanasam Sivan). And it concluded fittingly with Purandaradasa's ‘Venkatachala Nilayam' in Sindhubhairavi, reinforcing the reference to the Lord's heavenly abode.