Review Neyveli Santhana Gopalan’s concert was laced with grammatical correctness rather than the lyrical emphasis.
The 45th Annual Cultural Festival of Kalasagaram selected vocalist Neyveli Santhana Gopalan, violinist Peri Sriramamurthy and mridangam player K.V. Prasad to rhonour them with the title ‘Sangeetha Kala Sagara’ and invited state Governor E.S.L. Narasimhan as chief guest.
This was followed by vocal recital by Santhana Gopalan with the other two awardees, Sriramamurthy and Prasad, joined by Murali, on ghatam. Santhana Gopalan’s throat problem seemed to have effected his higher octave rendition.
However, his diction in the rendition of kirtanas, especially of Thyagaraja, was not clear. One found him giving more importance to the grammar than to the sahitya bhava. His concert seemed to be more manodharma sangeetham.
He opened with Ramabhakti Samrajyam in Suddha Bangala, a simple kirtana presentation but the swarakalpana he did was impressive. He then took up Panthuvarali, sung it briefly and allowed violinist Sriramamurthy to play further. He presented in it popular composition of Thyagaraja Apparama Bhakti with a fine neraval presentation at the line Lakshmidevi Valachuna Lakshmanundu Koluchuna for a change, instead of usually chosen kapi varathi .
Santhana Gopalan chose Sankarabharanam as his main melody of the event for Swararaga Sudharasa of Thyagaraja. The raga rendition was indeed brilliant summing up all its beauties. However, while covering his entire vocal range and then descending from Mandrasthayi too, the mandra Ri, Sa lost audibility.
Yet the total picture of the raga gained majestic appeal. It was equally well played by violinist Sriramamurthy in his turn, drawing appreciative response from audience.
The swarakalpana part in itself was display of vocalist’s commendable artistry. The tani avartanam at this stage by percussionists elicited good response.