Margazhi Festival

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Lalitha Sharma Photo: Special Arrangement

Lalitha Sharma Photo: Special Arrangement   | Photo Credit: mail pic

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There was every indication of the illustrious lineage that surrounds Lalitha Sharma in the invocation she rendered to Vishnu.

The evidence kept resurfacing at regular intervals thereafter for the rest of the concert, heightening the sense of speculation. But the final confirmation came only when the curtains went down.

A disciple of Pt. Jasraj, she made her early forays into raag Madhuvanti for a good one hour in two compositions- one in ek taal and the other in teen taal.

The ambience acquired a sombre mood with the exposition of the raag, though sadly, not many people were present to partake of the sumptuous music.

As Lalitha Sharma elaborated the line, expanding each and every syllable, you could slowly but surely piece together ‘Mehmananse Ka Lariye.’ Interspersing the lyric was the scale in all its ascending and descending notes. Now below the lower tonic, then to the notes right down and then soaring to the upper fifth, Sharma exhibited her vocal powers with immaculate control.

Her formidable accompanists - Salish Kolli on the harmonium and Keshav Joshi on the tabla, took over proceedings at every interval.

A good half an hour into the recital, the first composition in Madhuvanti was still unfolding. Lalitha took up the anthara. ‘Preetkiye Pachtaye Bavri Jhoothohi Manko Kales… But, in a performance that is two hours long, she could no longer afford the erstwhile customary luxury of a longish elaboration.

At this point, I was reminded of an interesting exchange I overheard some years ago between two Americans at another Hindustani instrumental concert. At the end of the vilambit in the very first composition, one of them proclaimed the end of the concert, saying the remaining jhod, jhala and the dhrut could not be regarded as representative of the discipline and rigour characteristic of Indian classical music.

Lalitha Sharma soon wrapped up the entire composition, stepping up the tempo before the finale. The second composition in dhrut and in the same raag was as spirited and vibrant as the one before.

‘Vibhushitanang Riputamang,’ a vintage Jasraj bandish was the next composition set in Sankara. This raag is close to Hamsadhwani, Sharma told her audience. Some of them must have wondered what an alert mind it takes to either deploy or omit the rishabh, as also the dhaivat, during the ascent in this scale.

As the recital progressed, each composition reduced in duration. But as with any seasoned artist, the constraint of time did not show in Sharma’s singing.

The piece in Puryadhanashree set to ek taal followed. Then came another famous Jasraj song, this time in Atana: ‘Mata Kalika Maha Jagat Janani Bhavani.’ ‘Mayi Savre’ in raag Bhairavi was the final piece. The moment for me to confirm my assumption had also finally arrived.

Ratipriya, a post-graduate student of Sanskrit at the Oriental Research Institute, says with pride that veteran R. Vedavalli has been her source of motivation for several years now. Ratipriya came under the direct tutelage of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi six years ago.

Ratipriya’s 75-minute recital showcased some of that rich training. The first sample of that was the varnam in ragam Saranga. She followed that with Swati Tirunal’s 'Paripahi Ganadhipa Bhasuramurthe,' in ragam Saveri.

If Tyagaraja continues to enjoy a place of pride among the singers of the younger generations in the 21st century, credit is due in no small measure to gurus who advocate conformity to established musical conventions. Therefore, it was no surprise that Tyagaraja was the mainstay of Ratipriya’s performance.

‘Etulabrotuvo Teliyadu,’ ‘Smarane Sukhamu Ramanama’ and ‘Koluvaiyunnade’ followed in that order. The vocalist’s alapana to ragam Chakravakam was most noticeably mellifluous and she could sustain the same tonal quality for the rest of the recital. Her accompanist Saradha Ravindran, a disciple of A. Kanyakumari, displayed a superb touch on the violin.

During the singing of ‘Etulabrotuvo,’ one observed how closely Ambur Padmanabhan, who was on the mridangam, followed the vocalist almost word to word with his discreet beats.

The kalpanaswarams to both the major compositions were beautifully decorated. But, one must mention here that Tyagaraja’s simple devotional melodies do not get better than the song in Janaranjani. Its sweetness melted away as the exposition of ragam Bhairavi commenced.

‘Sariyemi Sarasakshi Nikidi,’ in Atana was the last song after a short percussion solo by Padmanabhan. Few in the audience would doubt that the tenacity of the trio will take them far in their music career.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 10:16:48 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/chennai-margazhi-season/copybook-style-rendition/article6693997.ece

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