Music M. Narmadha's violin concert in Thrissur included a wide range of ragas, and kritisby different composers. G.S. Paul
The event’s organisers announced it as a grand violin concert; but the grandeur of the two-hour recital was beyond description. In the typical ‘Parur-MSG’ bani, M. Narmadha played each number with flamboyance. The artiste, who has a rich repertoire, presented select kritis of as many composers as possible, thereby adding variety to the show.
Narmadha was successful in maintaining the verve with which she opened the concert. ‘Intha chalamu’, Vina Kuppayyar’s Begada varnam in Adi, served to demonstrate her mastery over the instrument. Long but soft bowing that produced notes in quick succession, that too from a single string very often, was noteworthy and so was her aesthetic merging of one note with the next. This was followed by ‘Gam Ganapathe’ in Tisra nadai Adi, a composition of Harikeshanellur Muthiah Bhagavathar.
Phrases rich in melodic content essayed an appealing Hamsadwani. A rapidly played ‘Nada tanumanisham’, Tygaraja’s composition in Chithranjini, was in sharp contrast with the relatively slow ‘Chandram bhaja manasa’ in Asaveri and Matya, the only Dikshitar composition in the concert. ‘Raghuvamsa sudha paripalayamam’, Patnam Subramania Iyer’s kriti in Kathanakuthoohalam and Adi, was energising.
Narmadha considers an alap of a raga as a form of meditation and this was evident both in the elaboration of Poorvikalyani and Sahana, the latter being the main raga chosen for the evening. It is the spontaneous improvisation during the embellishment of each swara that captures the imagination of any rasika. Perhaps this was more discernible in Sahana, the composition being Tyagaraja’s ‘Giripainelakonna’ in Adi. The melodic heights to which the extended alapana soared were fabulous. For Poorvikalyani, the composition was Neelakantasivan’s ‘Anandanatanamaduvar’ in Roopakam.
The cosmic dance of Siva in Chidambaram temple is the leitmotif of the composition. Tani tagged to the Sahana composition had many exciting moments with N. Hari on the mridangam and Kovai Suresh on the ghatam.
Sandwiched between the two were ‘Sarasa Sama dana’, composed by Tyagaraja in Kapinarayani and Adi, and ‘Bogindra sayananm’, composed by Swati in Kuntalavarali and Khanta chap.
In the post-main part, Narmadha played Gopalakrishna Bharati’s ‘Adum Chidambaramo’ in Behag, a Kabirdas bhajan in Bageswari and ‘Bho Sambo’, Swami Dayananda Saraswathy’s composition in Revathy, Adi. Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri’s Khamas number ‘Jayati Jayati Bharatha matha’ evoked a sense of patriotism. She wound up with a Tiruppugazh.
Distressingly, the sound system was ‘howling’ throughout the recital! As part of its efforts to encourage up-and-coming artistes, Sree Thyagabrahma Sabha, under the auspices of which the concert was presented, had also staged a recital by Vani Krishnamurthy prior to Narmadha’s concert.
The one hour-and-a-half concert covered six numbers among which the Mayamalavagoula varnam (Sarasijanabha, Adi, Swati), ‘Govardhana gireesam’ (Dikshitar, Hindolam, roopakam) and ‘Nidhichala sukhama’ (Tyagaraja, Kalyani, Tripuda) were noteworthy. The concluding number ‘Sagara sayana vibho prabho’ (Bhagesri) evoked memories of the great maestro M.D. Ramanathan. She had excellent support from Ramesh on the violin, Unnikrishnan on the mridangam and Vimal on the ghatam.
Narmadha considers an Alap of a raga as a form of meditation.