Music

An enjoyable evening with Yesudas

The veteran offered a delectable mix of traditional kritis and popular devotional songs

The recent musical homage to Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy had a star attraction in the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan’s series of concerts to mark Sri Rama Navami. The evening featured a vocal recital by the stalwart musician K. J. Yesudas, who was conferred the title Sangeetha Kala Nirupama.

The commemoration to KVN was held jointly under the auspices of the family trust named after the maestro and another dedicated to the propagation of the legacy of his guru, Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

Yesudas held a packed audience in thrall during the three-hour recital, encapsulating yet again his virtuosity and versatility acquired over a long and distinguished musical career. A delectable mix of his signature classical kritis and popular devotional numbers underscored the co-existence of intuitively appealing folk tunes with their aesthetically refined musical scales in the Indian tradition.

The opening composition was ‘Sarasija nabha,’ the varnam in raga Nattai, demonstrating the artiste’s professional touch despite his age. Tyagaraja’s ‘Srigananadham bhajamyaham,’ in Kanakangi, the first melakartha raga, may have been meant to retrace the roots of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar’s prime disciple in the classical tradition.

It was then time for Yesudas to indulge the listeners’ nostalgia, first with ‘Pavanaguru pavanapura’. Tyagaraja’s ‘Enta Vedukondu Raghava,’ took this effort many steps further.

‘Kshirasagarasayana,’ Tyagaraja’s spirited imploration in raga Devagandhari was no less memorable. ‘Garudagamana samayamide,’ in Nagasvaravali was a lively and arguably lighter tune. ‘Janaki Ramana,’ was the last among the many short renditions that dominated the performance.

Tyagaraja’s ‘Ae thavunara,’ the centrepiece of the evening, was an exception to this general pattern for the day. The violinist Mahadeva Sarma, who the audience was given to understand, has been accompanying Yesudas for 27 years, gave a neat essay of raga Kalyani. Tiruvarur Bhakthavatsalam on the mridangam and Karthik on the ghatam were sensational during the percussion duet.

An amazing finale to the evening was the presentation of a song from the unreleased film Tansen. ‘Shadaj ne paaya ye vardaan,’ composed by the renowned Ravindra Jain. The composition is an illustration of the potential to derive many scales by substituting the ‘shadaj’ for each of the different notes in a raag. In this instance, the base scale is raag Bilawal, made up of all shudh swars. Then, by treating ‘ri’ as ‘sa’, (with ‘ga’ and ‘ni’ in komal), you get to raag Kafi. A similar progression through the remaining notes yields Bhairavi, Yaman Kalyan, Khamaj and Asavari; affirms the composer. All of this may be commonplace for even amateur musicians. But it is fascinating for everybody else.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 5:37:14 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/an-enjoyable-evening-with-yesudas/article26874522.ece

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