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Nurturing a great heritage

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MAJESTIC FLOW: Panchamurthi (left) and Kumaresh.
MAJESTIC FLOW: Panchamurthi (left) and Kumaresh.

LALITHAA KRISHNAN

The choice of both ragas and kritis was unusual in the concert of Kondavil Panchmurthi and Kumaresh.

``During my grandfather's time, my family relocated to Sri Lanka, but we trace our roots to a town near Tiruvarur. It was from my maternal grandfather, nagaswara vidwan Mullai Arumugam Pillai, that my brother Ganamurthi and I had our initial lessons, later continuing under my father, Kodhandapani Pillai. Hailing from a parampara of nagaswara and tavil vidwans, it was our privilege to undergo systematic training in gurukulavasa. As my paternal uncle was Yazhpanam V. Dakshinamurthy Pillai and maternal uncle was Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram Pillai, both being renowned tavil vidwans, it was all in the family," reminisced nagaswara vidwan Kondavil V.K.Panchamurthi of Colombo who was in Chennai specially to perform in the two-week long Nagaswara Tavil Isai Thiruvizha organised by the Nadaswara Tavil Music of International Inc. of Canada.Panchamurthi and brother, Kondavil Ganamurthi, performed worldwide as a duo for nearly 20 years, and were recognised as artistes par excellence. Now the tradition is being carried forward by his son, Kondavil V.K.P.Kumaresh, who accompanies him and is already shaping up to be a fine chip off the old block. ``He is also an accomplished vocalist who has given many concerts," adds his father.

Distinctly unusual

In their programme that evening, the choice of both ragas and kritis was distinctly unusual, affording a glimpse into an extensive repertoire. Panchamurthi commenced with a detailed Vasanthabhairavi that was both eloquent and poignant in its gamaka-rich and octave-traversing passages that touched moments of quietude with the accent on the panchama, madhyama and gandhara in the descending phase. The sangatis in `Neeye Gathi' were beautifully crafted to maximise the karunya rasa. `Narayana Namo' in Madhyamaravali was another rare composition of dignified gait, with a sparkling, fluent raga preface by Kumaresh. The Thodi alapana yielded a glorious cascade, with strong panchama-varja and shadja-varja passages winding sinuously from the nishada, lending flavour to contrast with the serenity of the tara stayi shadja. Kumaresh's playing added vibrancy, his sancharas combining speed with clarity and laced with a haunting sweetness of tone. The sheer majesty of the tara stayi gandhara — a note that was monarch of all it surveyed — had to be heard to be believed. A neat swara pallavi (Adi, 2-kalai) criss-crossed a maze of scintillating kalpanaswara clusters.Inuvaiyur N.R.S.Sudhakaran and Kondavil R. Ananda Ganesh pumped the vigour of youth into their thani — an astounding array of sollus and breathtaking nadai variations. Here, at last was a demonstration of the magnificent tavil expositions you had heard so much about, a promise fulfilled. A searching essay of Madhuvanti (played in madhyama sruti) was followed by the piece `Narahari Sanchala.' The staccato notes of a Tiruppugazh hymn in Sindhubhairavi rang the curtain down on a programme that came in for thoroughly-deserved applause. The rasika's enjoyment of the concert was heightened by the spirited keeping of tala by Tirupungur T.S.Swaminathan, whose enthusiastic participation communicated itself in full.


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