Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna adds sparkle

With each successive Season Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna has been adding more sparkle to his music

Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna’s concert at the Sivagami Pethachi auditorium reiterated the fact that he belongs to a select clutch of musicians who are committed to raising the bar with each successive Margazhi fest. In terms of substance, technique and voice culture, the vocalist’s approach bore ample testimony to his making the most of the past year to imbue his musicianship with an edge.

The soul of the kutcheri was a memorable Varali main whose appeal lay in the richness of the minutiae. Rafting gently and unsuspectingly into the alapana expanse mapped by Balamuralikrishna, you were lured in by deceptively languid opening sancharas. A few minutes into the raga, you realised that you had signed up for an eventful musical voyage. The artiste’s firm hold on grammar and accent on aesthetics were evident even in the more adventurous twists and turns.

Much of an artiste’s skill manifests in directing the rasika’s gaze towards uncommon sights that may have remained hitherto unobserved, in a familiar landscape. This, the artiste did, with panache. Initially cruising the middle and lower octaves, Balamuralikrishna displayed an easy reach down to the mandra sthayi gandhara in a timbre carrying weight and depth. In-dwelling passages at the plaintive madhyama were laced with languid gamakas. While the panchama-varja suite and the shadja-varja passages at the nishadha were reserved for flights of startling speed and imaginativeness, the ‘dha – ga’ (of tara sthayi) range was a zone for the artiste’s creative energies that lit up the raga’s signature dwelling note at the rishabha in descent. Although the pallavi sangathis in the Muthuswami Dikshitar kriti ‘Maamava Meenakshi’ were interestingly structured, they set you wondering about the need for the torrent of intricate patterns where a simpler structure would have emphasised the value of minimalism. By the time the niraval at ‘Shamey Sankari’ began, Balamuralikrishna was already neck-deep in rasanubhava to the point that Varali’s poignant swing and sway ruled. Swaraprasthara hit the high spots with intended effect.

Evocative essay

Impressionist strokes painted a lyrical Abhogi. Broad sweeping passages at the rishabha, ‘ga-dha’ linked imagery, silken jarus and ravai sangathis built up an evocative essay mirrored in the violinist’s empathetic response. Scripting a fluid tanam that snaked into the anupallavi ‘Chinna Naade’, Balamuralikrishna sailed into the pallavi of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Nannu Brova Neekintha Taamasamaa.’ Manodharma at ‘Gajaraja’ was a bhava-immersive experience.

The tukkada section sparkled with S. Kalyanaraman’s signature aesthetics in the Mira bhajan ‘Hari Gun Gaavath’ tuned by the late vidwan in raga Deepali and subtle dynamics of raga Sindhu Bhairavi in Subramania Bharati’s ‘Thedi Unnai Charanadainden’

The varnam ‘Vanajakshi’ (Kalyani, Ramnad Srinivasa Iyengar) offered a spirited start to the kutcheri. ‘Sivaloka Nathanai’ (Mayamalavagowla, Gopalakrishna Bharathi) was rounded off with impassioned sarvalaghu kalpanaswarams. Balamuralikrishna’s Malayamarutham sketch led to a brisk ‘Dhanyudevvado’ (Patnam Subramania Iyer) in which the pallavi sangathis stood out for their seguing structure. The niraval at ‘Varamaddala’ showcased uruttal-pirattal of the exacting variety that warranted a breather which came with strategically interwoven, delicate jarus. The vocalist was so caught up in raga ambience that he held on to its lingering swirls, unwilling to let go while signing off after a ‘da ni ri’ sanchara.

Balamuralikrishna was backed by Delhi Sunderrajan (violin), Anantha R. Krishnan (mridangam) and B.S. Purushothaman (ganjira) — a synergetic team that enthused. With Sunderrajan being acutely sensitised to the vocalist’s flow of ideas, theirs was a productive partnership, with zeal and zest powering his responses.

The percussionists revelled in an elaborate tani avartanam. If round one was a triumph of subtlety, round two was an explosion of melkala fireworks leading to a kuraippu in which richly layered tonalities vied for attention.

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Printable version | Aug 4, 2020 4:28:04 PM |

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