Margazhi Festival

‘K’ factor dominates

J..B. Keerthana. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam

J..B. Keerthana. Photo: B. Jothi Ramalingam  

It was a coincidence that barring two items, four of Keerthana’s line-up were in ragas with names beginning with her own initial – Kantamani, Kharaharapriya, Kumudakriya and Khambodi. The song in Kantamani, Desadi, was the first in the series. Kharaharapriya alapana came on its heels, taking the concert to the layers of the raga quickly, with long karvais and brisk sangatis rich in bhava, well executed. There was an unorthodox tinge of Rudrapriya in the prayoga ‘ sa-ni-pa-me-ga-ri.’ M. Rajeev’s rejoinder was faithful to the singer’s style while playing along with her. In his own essay he effectively stressed the lakshanas. His deft fingers carried out his creative ideas. Keerthana started with a virutham of a Tamil song before ushering Papanasam Sivan's ‘Sendil Andavan’ in Rupakam. This phase was developed through niraval and kalpanaswaras on the charanam lines ‘Vadi–Velan Valli Deivanai Lolan’ at 1 / 2 - idam in the last matra, competently handled by the singer and well complemented by Rajeev and Vignesh Venkataramani (mridangam). There was melody and serenity in the raga alapana of Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Ardha Nareeswaram,’ in Kumudakriya, Rupakam. Excellence in aural effects was prominent in the violin. Sahitya suddham was outstanding.

Khambodi appeared well-matched to the one that succeeded this item. Keerthana led the raga, starting from the panchama range and getting down to mantra panchama. The alapana had the stamp of not only strict discipline and training but also of deep perception of the mood. She showed her imagination as also the practical “Kutcheri sense” to be able to trim it to suit the occasion. The violin was equally pleasant.

The near -quarter- hour effort was a fitting pilot to Tyagaraja's ‘Sri Raghuvara’ in Adi. The swara alternations in two kalams and sahityam – a speciality of this number – was delightful and a good tempo– builder. The few and tasteful kalpanaswaras ended in a long kuraippu.

Vignesh Venkataramani lent an expert accompaniment to the singer and the violinist. His 12-minute thani, starting with a slow tisram, moved on to a chariot “gati” and terminated in a pleasant “mora.” The concert ended with tukkadas in Paras and Kapi. Keertana is an accomplished singer with good potential to rise.

Guhan Venkataraman's veena concert was pleasantand enjoyable. He was accompanied by S.G. Balakrishnan on the mridangam and Ernakulam S. Ramakrishnan on the ghatam.

Guhan began with a varnam in Durbar, Adi, played adeptly in two kalams. Over the next nine minutes, a fast-paced ‘Ashtaganapatim’ in Adi was played after a short alapana in Mohanam, with appropriate kalpanaswaras. A five-minute Pantuvarali alapana brought in a good degree of tranquillity with an expert fingering technique and a sensitive use of the bass strings.

A medium-paced kriti, ‘Apparama Bhakti’ composed by Tyagaraja appeared to be the best fare for the afternoon as it roused the attention of the listeners. Manodharma swaras were rendered well. Choice of the ‘idam’ also demonstrated the artist's musical sensitivity.

‘Paritanamichite’ of Patnam Subramania Iyer in Bilahari, Khanda chapu, played at high speed, again sounded just right, with all the sangatis in place.

With an hour left, Guhan introduced an appropriate item, Tyagaraja's ‘Chakkani Raja’ in a deliberate double beat Adi tala. The kriti was prefaced with an alapana in Kharaharapriya which had admirable aural aesthetics.

The young artist's depth and perception was again underscored by this effort. While both the alapana and the rendition of the kriti were inspiring, one was not too satisfied with the tanam. After kalpanaswaras, the stage was handed over to the percussionists for nearly 20 minutes.

Accompanying the veena is not exactly every mridangam artist’s cup of tea. He could well overdo the loudness, or in his caution, drop the beats so low as to be ineffective. Both Balakrishnan and Ramakrishnan seemed equal to the task while accompanying the veena. In each of theirsolo portions, they delivered an enjoyable sample of their talent and imagination. The concert ended with a thillana, a Lalgudi Jayaraman's composition in Mohanakalyani.

As Guhan played, one noticed that there was no hesitation, imperfection or faltering at low or high speed and no harshness and or clumsiness. There were no attempts at drama or glamour and no spectacular acrobatics, but the simulation of the human voice – for which this instrument is famous-was eminently achieved. It is a pity that the afternoon kutcheris of young performers such as Guhan are patronized by very few rasikas!

Click on the respective venues to read about concerts performed there.

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Printable version | May 30, 2020 11:43:41 PM |

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