Music At a concert by Sanjay Subramaniam the audiences were treated to the best in Carnatic music. Ranee Kumar
Aclass unto himself on the firmament of Carnatic music, Sanjay Subramaniam definitely attracts connoisseurs, if not crowds. It’s not everyday that one gets to tune in to Sanjay so rasikas waded their way through rains to Bhavan’s auditorium in sheer enthusiasm to see and hear him. This time around, far from just performing, the ace vocalist was in full form dishing out some of the best melodies we could hope to hear.
There was always something quintessentially Sanjay in all the kritis he chose to delight us with; either the neraval or the chittaswara, the brighas or the playful delivery of complex range of swara phrases or the alapana as such - it could be anything but definitely it would bear the Sanjay Subramaniam trademark.
The concert was a sumptuous spread of the best ragas and kritis. He mastered the art of emotive rendition of a layered swarakalpana too along with the composition and its raga. The same wasn’t true of the alapana per se which explored the nuances of the raga with the bhava sweeping in and out, not very consistently.
Opening with the traditional pada varnam ‘ Sami ni rammanave sarasakshi ro ..’ in Kedaram to roopaka talam, he rendered the swaram with its undulations in vivid clarity and marked velocity. We regained our composure to lend a ear and savour the Harikhamboji ‘ Enduku nirdaya …’ in which the sangathees moved across the bhava at different stages and the musician’s pause at ‘nirdaya’ laid emphasis on the utter pathos of this kriti in the most poignant terms. We couldn’t have asked for more.
]The soulful tones in rendering the lines, ‘ udutha bhakti …’ and the neraval thereafter with the swarakalpana that went hand in hand with the emotive tones of the verse were all superb.
The pick-up as he touched the higher octaves was typically Sanjay. The violinist Nagai Muralidharan proved a faithful accompanist in his deft bowing while veteran Mannargudi Eswaran on the mridangam offered the steadiest of tones on his percussion which was a pleasure to hear. ‘ Ni keppudu daya vacchuno …’ emerged as expressively as the previous one, being similar in emotive tone and tenor.
Sanjay was able to create the effect of an oceanic fall of mighty waves through his dexterous manipulation of the line, ‘Saagara…’ in varied tones proving his prowess as a musician of excellence.
The manodharma likewise in the first round contributed to the same effect of waves welling up and went into a spin in the next two circuits.
Sweet melodies showered as he began the ‘ Kaana kann aayirum vendum…Muruganai ’. Then came a racy Nayaki with ‘ Nee bhajana gana rasikula …’ It was an elaborate opening statement (alapana) of Kalyani in all its grandeur and cadence where Sanjay took up ‘ Bhajare chitta Balambikam ..’ a Diskshitar kriti.
The well-delineated sangathees and in the neraval at ‘ Devim Shakti bijodbhava matrkarna saririneem …’ he elongates the ‘matrkarna’ in his inimitable style lacing it with gamakam. The torrential swarakalpana that followed was like child’s play to the musician who tossed the syllables in a patterned manner with gusto. The taniavarthanam was exclusively melodic and there ensued a keen contest between the mridangist and the kanjeera player (Venkatraman) who belonged to two diametrically opposing age groups! Venkatraman’s single syllabic upward denomination was catchy.
The toe-tapping ‘ Mamava Jagadiswara …’ preceded the RTP which was signature Sanjay. His enchanting rendition of the Anandabhairavi endeared us to the raga as he scaled the gamut of its nuances in his sonorous tones.
The tanam was as captivating as the raga. The pallavi ‘ Murugayyane, Paneerayyane, Valli daivane manalaney ..’ in ragamalika (Anandabhairavi, Sahana, Darbari Kannada) changed its tones with clarity outlined by beauty. The rounding off with a tillana and another wonderful keertana in Sindhubhairavi with a preface of a viruttam ‘ Ido vo tillai Chidambarakshetram ’ literally spoke eloquent.
The concert was part of a two-day music fest organised by the JB Foundation at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.