B. R. C. IYENGAR
Science can get along with talent, but art requires genius.
The five-day annual festival of Chandrasekharendra Sangeeta Educational Society came up last week with all grandeur, which spoke of the Herculean efforts of the general secretary Chandrasekhar. The inaugural concert was by O.S. Thyagarajan (OST). OST has that animated ambition, the warmest predilection of his own style and the purest love of spiritual perception. He is never hasty, and he never languishes. Art in the case of OST disciplines itself from incalculable curves and superfluous decorations to the sober simplicity of strait lines and structural form.All this apart, the concert of the day had its own image, a little out of focus. Poignantly it was patently imbalanced. Take for instance the major item of the day, kharaharapirya. The excellent portrayal of the raga went on for the 25 minutes with endless repetitions of sangathis. A long duration of an exercise like alapana by itself may not prove a positive factor, it should meticulously repetitions. OST should bear this in mind. Yet another lacuna is the krithi itself. The song commences with the words mitri bhagyame, where it ought to be soumitri bhagyame. This is evident in the anupallavi, commencing with the words chitrarathnamaya and ending with soumitri bhagyame. This debate is in the air for long. It is meaningful therefore, to commence the song with anupallavi as great signers like Nedanuri do. The concert included items, varnam in Sahana, elvatraamu in Devamritavarshini, endukunirdaya in Harikamboji, needayarada in Vasantha Bhairavi. Vittal Ramamurthy extended erudite support, while Balaji on the mridangam came out with routine display.Coming as it did the next day, Nithyasri's vocal concert was different from that of OST's. The union of subtlety and clarity, in imposing architecture of thought can be credited to Nithyasri, but the depth and importance of her grandmother, Pattammal is wanting. A style of her own is indeed impressive by itself. Her voice is richly cultured and the a-karas, contrary to the easier brigas (more so in the lower octaves) is commendable. The items on the day's concert were perhaps away from the beaten track, but barely impressive. After the Kedaragowla varnam, the krithi, manasa etulorthune had some unconventional sangathis but unimposing. The text in the following krithi in Sahana was unmusical in the sense it was more of a prose order. The composition in therata surya was equally disheartening, more so as it is by itself, a Vivadi Dosha raga. The other krithi in Mohana, nannupaliumpa had inadequate sangathis. Pakala Ramadas on the violin and Shiv Kumar and Ramanamurthy on the percussion were sedate and did very little to enhance the dignity of the concert.
Final citadelThe emphasis of Sanjay Subramaniam's royal style is the final citadel of his faith. Magnificent in the splendour of his confidence and magnificent of course, in the power, and reach of his voice, his music is a pearl without price, valued beauty, which is sometimes attainable by a few others, but objectively, always escapes; a miracle of glowing colour and flowering grace, to listen to him for the first time is like discovering the odes of Keats. No other singer is equivalent to him in lucidity or power of scholarship. The concert lasting three hours riveted the listeners to the chairs and not a soul stirred till the mangalam was spelt out. The secret of his success is based on his discerning impulse in every event like selection of the krithi, the ragas, kalapramanam, variety of thala, their time and place, choice of vaggeyakaras, management of time and more importantly carrying the audience with him. . After a brisk varnam, the ragas that were selected were Chakravakam, Ritigowla, Kalyani, Kharaharapriya, Kamach, Begada and presented in that order. Intelligently watched, the ragas were found to be complementary and the krithis differing in thala, each with a specific theme and message. Varadarajan's cool response in every faculty; the delightful innovations of Arun Prakash and the scholarly contribution of Somajayulu on ghatam, left the audience dumbfounded.
Flute prodigyIf there are prodigies galore who are made, born ones are rare; flute maestro Sashank is one such. In a short time he has proved himself one of the leading experts. The feeling for form and rhythm, for precision and clarity, for proportion and order are credit to his learning. It is just not that only; he has gained enormous experience and has also perfected the stagecraft. The day's performance was one with extremes; perfect classicism on one side and mediocre menu on the other, overwhelming precision in speed and bewildering mastery over the laya at one moment and overplaying swarakalpana at the other. Shashank has developed the skill of changing the nadai and kalpramanam half way through (and get back again to the original); sometime all these manipulations like laya, kalapramana, and change of nadai happen frequently and rapidly, within one avartha (cycle of the taala) that, much of the imaginative work goes unrecognised or even unperceived by the common listener. Shashank starts every item with great dignity, moves with abiding care and interest but soon switches on to fast (drita) mode and even faster (athidruta) mode. Amongst the items he played Kharaharapriya stood out while others included a varnam in Saveri, ganamurthi in the raga Ganamurthi and Ranjani. Sashank was accompanied on the violin by Mysore V. Srikanth and on the mridangam by Phalgun and Ramanamurthy.