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DEVARNAMA What added sheen to the renditions was the attention paid to enunciation of lyric. LALITHAA KRISHNAN

Musical homage: T.V. Ramprasadh. Photo: R. Ragu
Musical homage: T.V. Ramprasadh. Photo: R. Ragu

T he Kalamandir Trust's tribute to founder, industrialist and philanthropist, the late S.Viswanathan, to mark his birth anniversary is an annual event that features an evening of music and dance. T.V. Ramprasadh, the vocalist presenting the musical homage in this year's edition, was accompanied by senior vidwans T.K.V. Ramanujacharyalu (violin), Srimushnam Raja Rao (mridangam) and E.M. Subramaniam (ghatam).

The programme, titled ‘Dasa Rasa Ratna,' was an hour-long thematic concert featuring the compositions of the Dasas, collectively known as Dasara Padagalu or Devarnama. While the most widely known and prolific among them was Purandaradasa, other Dasas such as Kanakadasa and Vyasaraya have also enriched the devotional and classical repertoire with their works in praise of divinity.

Ramprasadh's compilation drew from the works of Kanakadasa, Raghavendra Tirtha, Purandara Dasa, Kamalesadasa and Vyasaraya.

The invocation ‘Nammamma Sharadhe' (Hamsadhwani, Kanakadasa ) ensured an upbeat start, the opening note taking off at the tara sthayi shadja. In kalpanaswara, the artist practised the art of gentle persuasion. The initial rounds were structured around simple, appealing permutations subsequently developed into strategic odukkal combinations while the sarvalaghu that followed flowed in smooth progression.

‘Indu Yenage Govinda' (Bhairavi, Raghavendra Tirtha) stood out for the care lavished upon the line ‘Sundara Vadana' wherein tonal modulation was backed by emotive depth.

Classical credentials firmly established in the Bhairavi kriti, Ramprasad next dove into a no-frills, solid Thodi alapana buttressed by sturdy pidis. The measured approach, bypassing adventurous flights, helped the artist gain an instant connect to the raga core, a wise option, given the compact duration of the concert. Jarus, kaarvais, madhyama kala prayogas and brigas – all these devices found apt place and proportion in the gentle, yet firm traverse to the tara sthayi shadja. Telling prayogas at the rishabha lent that esoteric touch. Ramanujacharyalu's version shone, softly burnished in every phrase and turn. For all that it was set to 1-kalai Rupaka tala, the krihi ‘Ninna Nodi Dhanyanaadheno' (Thodi, Purandara Dasa) held the vistara customarily associated with 2-kalai compositions. The pleasing timbre and depth that the artist's voice takes on the madhya and mandra sthayis were displayed to advantage in the kriti.

The Kamalesadasa composition, ‘Thunga Theera Viraajam,' cruised tranquil waters, with the concluding section foraying into moving Ahir Bhairav territory.

All-time favourite

‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro' (Yamuna Kalyani, Vyasaraya) is an all-time favourite with musicians, dancers and rasikas alike. It offers boundless scope for interpretation and improvisation, at once an artist's dream and epiphany. Listen intently, and you will discover that in the most inspiring renditions, it is a thing of light and beauty, marvellously supple, slipping sinuously between the grooves notched by the tala strokes in a liquid meander that is contained within, yet transcends the strictures of the tala. The glints shimmer just beneath the surface, never an overt dazzle, the magic tantalisingly within reach for a precious, infinitesimal second before dissolving into shadow, as the melody weaves BETWEEN the beats, rarely landing ON the beat. It was this ideal that the vocalist aspired to. And achieved in good measure.

An Ugabhoga effectively prefaced Purandara Dasa's ‘Tamburi Meetidava' (Sindhu Bhiravi), the concluding piece .

A noteworthy feature that added sheen to the renditions was the particular attention paid to enunciation of lyric with clarity and feeling. Earnestness and a mature style vouched for a dedicated approach which distinguished the presentation.

With Ramanujacharyalu, Raja Rao and EMS in top form, the expertise and craftsmanship of the accompanying vidwans catapulted the presentation to the premier league from the word go. Generating rhythmic and melodic phrases polished to perfection, their contribution lent a poised edge to Ramprasad's interpretations, urging him to give of his best.

The tani initiated a rhythmic dialogue in which sollus took on a sheen and effervescence complemented by the meditative ambience, responsive audience and excellent acoustics.


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