His voice in mint condition, Balamuralikrishna produced karvais that would have posed a challenge to singers half his age. The accompanists provided delectable support.
Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna's concert on April 14 under the aegis of the Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha, was indeed a Tamizh New Year gift for aficionados of Carnatic music. Not for nothing has he earned the sobriquet, "Markandeya of Carnatic music." The voice in mint condition, the spirit soaring with infectious zest and enthusiasm and the sheer joy in singing were affirmations of the dictum, "What is age, but a number." S.Varadarajan on the violin, G.Vijayaraghavan on the mridangam, and S. Karthick on the ghatam were the accompanying anchormen. An infallible formula for the success of a performance is an impressive beginning, and the pada varnam in Shanmukhapriya — composed by the vidwan himself, amply fitted the bill. "Saraswati Manohari," a Dikshitar composition in Saraswati Manohari and "Akhilandeswari" by Syama Sastri in staid, orthodox Karnataka Kapi, with the maestro's lyrical expression, soft and caring, as that of a mother singing a lullaby to her beloved off-spring, evoked a quiet, tranquil emotion stealing into the heart. Mohanam, the perennial charmer was scripted with exquisite grace, covering an unbelievable range of three octaves with effortless ease and precision. The breathtaking, sruti aligned karvais on the tara sthayi shadjam would have posed a challenge to musicians half Balamuralikrishna's age.
The full-throated prayogas steeped in the classical idiom, traversing the entire gamut of the fourth octave were indeed dream displays. Similarly, the powerful forays in the mandra sthayi, straight from the music manual, were remarkable outputs. Young Varadarajan who has been knocking at the doors of recognition in recent years, played an alapana of substance and style, announcing his arrival in emphatic fashion. Tyagaraja's "Nannupalimpa," an all-time favourite of the maestro with the diction and melodic content vying with each other to gain the upper hand, led the rasika into Utopian ambience. The swara fabric, woven with scintillating designs and patterns, brought a touch of grandiose to performing calibre. The violinist rose to the occasion with his prompt, sharp repartees. Tyagaraja's Charukesi composition, "Adamodi Galadha" was a delectable aperitif that laid the platform for the percussion interlude. Vijayaraghavan, a competent mridangist who also associates himself with Bharatanatyam, and S. Karthick, a many-sided artistic persona, played a consummate, sizzling tani avartanam with palpable enjoyment. Balamurali's kriti, "Sri Vani Pushpakapani Mampalaya" in the Mela Dhavalambari, an Arutpa in Vagadeeswari, "Rama Rama Yena Radha," a Sindhubhairavi song by Prayagai Rangadas, the musician's grandfather, and a buoyant ragamalika tillana brought the outstanding concert to a close. As one left the auditorium, a member of the houseful audience was heard to sum up the performance adequately, "Not a dull moment."