Rain of ragas and kritis

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Sprightly renditions: (Clockwise from top left) Aruna Siram, Bombay Jayashri, S.A.K. Durga, T.P.N. Ramanathan and Venkatesan, Vishaka Hari, T.M. Krishna and Unnikrishnan.
Sprightly renditions: (Clockwise from top left) Aruna Siram, Bombay Jayashri, S.A.K. Durga, T.P.N. Ramanathan and Venkatesan, Vishaka Hari, T.M. Krishna and Unnikrishnan.


Concerts by eminent artists, lec-dems and discourses marked the conclusion of the seventh music festival at Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore.

Aruna Sairam is a crowd puller. The hype created before her arrival was justified by the crowd that had collected in the auditorium to listen to her concert at the seventh festival of music at the Rajalakshmi Fine Arts, Coimbatore. Her voice is her asset.

Aruna’s sahitya gnanam, choice of compositions and style of presentation with an eye on refinement were markedly present in the kutcheri. Her opening ‘Gaanamurthe’ set the recital on the right note of spirit and her customary speed was observed in the following ‘Balakanakamaya’ in Ataana. Her glowing picturisation of Pantuvarali for ‘Enna Gaanu Rama Bhajana’ and Kharaharapriya for ‘Chakkaniraja’ with niraval and swaras showed a harmonious blend of karvais and moorchanas giving a soothing and sowkyam effect.

Familiar compositions

‘Rangapura Vihara’ (Brindavanasaaranga) and familiar Oothukkadu compositions formed part of her musical fare. The lighter pieces included an abhang, ashtapadi and an Annamacharya composition. Embar Kannan showed his fingering prowess in drawing delightful sketches of the ragas in his solo versions with competence. The laya wing in the hands of Vaidyanathan (mridangam) and Karthick (ghatam) proved its mettle adding pep to the recipe.

Bombay Jayashri was a picture of dignity and refinement at the music festival. Her dulcet refrains and exemplary ability to taper raga phrases with gana-naya throughout the concert transported the music aficionados to dizzy heights. After the opening ‘Anandanatanaprakasam’ followed by ‘Sanathana Parama Paavana’ (Phalamanjari), her raga essay of Lalitha for ‘Nannubrova’ with swaras was an expression of spontaneity. Her beatific Begada alapana for ‘Lokavanachatura’ with niraval gave a serene shape to the exercise. The RTP in Ranjani and Kaapi was hauntingly ecstatic. The concluding numbers — a Surdas bhajan, Ragamalika, and a pulsating thillana with pleasing fluency were breathtakingly graceful. Embar Kannan revealed his class in the richness of the sancharas in the solo versions of the ragas and swara repartees. Vaidyanathan (mridangam) and Sridhar (ghatam) provided a vibrant thani.

Soaked in bhakti

The afternoon sessions of the seventh annual season of music were devoted to informative discourses on devotional themes.

A power-point presentation of Arunachala Kavirayar’s Ramanatakam comprising the Bala, Ayodhya and Sundara kaandams by Dr. S.A.K.Durga highlighted the salient features of the musical opera on Ramavatharam. Jaya Srinivasan’s kathakalakshepam on Bheeshmasthuthi and the character analysis of Karnan in Mahabharatha and Anjaneya prabhavam in chaste diction in her own inimitable style drew wide acclaim.

A lec-dem on the origin and development of Harikatha in Tamil Nadu by Kalyanapuram Aaravamudacharyar gave a succinct account of the once popular art form from its origin to the present day.

The learned speaker made particular reference to its hey day during the reign of the Maratha kings, Raja Serfoji and the contribution to the art made by stalwarts such as Annasami Bhagavathar, Kamalamoorthy, Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, etc. Visakha Hari’s musical discourse on Tyagaraja Charitram, making use of the compositions of the bard of Tiruvaiyaru, was soaked in devotion. She was accompanied by Ananthakrishnan (violin) and Arjun Ganesh (mridangam).

Rich in bhava

Unnikrishnan’s vocal concert laid stress on the aesthetics of music. His mellifluous voice and relaxed approach made the kutcheri a memorable one. His sleek rendition of the Vachaspati varnam and ‘Mayatheetha’ in a sublime form was full of bhava through apt modulation of swaras. His depiction of Saramathi for ‘Mokshamugaladha’ and Kalyani for ‘Abhayambike Jagadamba’ with fast phrases softened by jarus and mellow prayogas defining the raga swaroopa compelled admiration. ‘Nannubrovu Lalithe’ (Lalitha), ‘Mamava Jagadeswari’ (Saraswathimanohari) and ‘Maane Mayile,’ a padam in Thodi were the other numbers in his agenda.

Subhalakshmi (violin) gave refreshing musical experience with her solo raga versions and swara exchanges.

Arun Prakash (mridangam) and Guru Prasad (ghatam) provided a pleasant percussion support.

Despite frills and his gymnastics, T.M. Krishna’s recital was a clear demonstration of his fidelity to the essence of Carnatic music and his ability to harness his pliable saareeram to any extent to explore new perspectives of creativity. His performance vigour was discernible in all his tasteful interpretations.

The sprightly start of ‘Bhavanutha’ (Mohanam) was an aesthetic version. His scholarly alapana of Ataana unleashing vocal phrasings for ‘Mummoorthulu’ followed by niraval and pacy swaras registered well with the buffs. ‘Sree Balakrishnam Bhajare’ (Dwijavanti), ‘Smarajanaka’ (Behag) and ‘Santhana Ramaswaminam’ (Hindolavasantham) were reflective of their devotional content. His Naattai alapana for RTP depicted with lucent gamakas for the pallavi ‘Nattakurinji Enbaar’ with raga sancharas of Gowlai, Begada, Ahiri, etc., negotiated with his powerful range of voice in the upper and lower register was spell-binding.

Delightful Dhanyasi

Sreeramkumar (violin), reflected the vocalist’s mood adequately displaying the lyricism of the ragas and swara forays. It was a delight to watch how Dhanyasi emanated with all its grandeur at his hands. Prasad (mridangam) and Sridhar (ghatam) rose to the challenge of the vocalist in creating a resonant mood.

T.P.N. Ramanathan and Venkatesan with the support of T.R.Subramanian and E.R.Manikandan on the thavil gave a full-fledged nagaswaram recital on the last day of the music festival.

A breezy varnam in Indirai followed by ‘Gam Ganapathe’ (Hamsadhwani) set the pace. The alapanas of Begada for ‘Anudinamum’ and Thodi for ‘Gaddanuvariki’ were marred by discords giving a jarring effect.

The main piece of the kutcheri Naattakurinji for RTP was spiced with sprightly brigas and the raga sancharas were ear-worthy. The thani by the thavil vidwans was absorbing.



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