Mixed offerings by Aditya Madhavan and Sunil Gargyan

While their training and talent helped these two young musicians, in places they appeared to have bitten off more than they could chew

December 30, 2021 06:17 pm | Updated 06:17 pm IST

Sunil Gargyan performing for Mudhra

Sunil Gargyan performing for Mudhra

Aditya Madhavan chose Mayamalavagowla, a Melakarta raga, as the centrepiece of his concert. Nadanamakriya is derived from it, a raga with which Sunil Gargyan had begun his concert the previous evening. So, the latter’s ‘Intha paraka’ was far shorter compared to Aditya’s ‘Meru samana’. The concerts of these two youngsters, who belong to schools with similar musical traits, revealed the rich variety Carnatic music has on offer.

Much before scaling the upper register of the Mayamalavagowla alapana, Aditya generated phrases dunked in delectable nasality, an unmistakable sign of his heritage, passed down from Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s disciple, Radha Namboodiri, Aditya’s guru during his formative Mumbai years. The Tyagaraja kriti followed conventional aesthetics even as some new-age ornamentations were obviously an influence of Sanjay Subrahmanyan, under whom the 25-year-old is now training. Sunil, a few months older than Aditya, has a robust voice. His ability for modulations came clear in softer treatment around, say, ‘Kanna talli’, as the gateway to the charanam of the opening item. Into the swaraprastara, his end-rally emphasis on the ‘pa’ had particular proximity to the enunciation of that note by Semmangudi, the guru of Sunil’s mentor P.S. Narayanaswamy.

Flurry of brigas

Thodi was Sunil’s main suite. The alapana was driven more often by a flurry of brigas typical of T.N. Seshagopalan. No coincidence. Given that one of Sunil’s teachers is P.B. Srirangachari, who learned under TNS.

‘Kundram kudikonda velava’ by Papanasam Sivan featured a niraval that Sunil sometimes struggled to tame.

The package, overall pleasing, lasted 39 minutes and wound up with an Adi tala tani avartanam by M.S. Venkatasubramaniam (mridangam) and N. Sundar (morsing). The accompanists for the two vocalists M. Shrikanth (violin), Akshay Anand (mridangam) and Madipakkam Murali (ghatam) seldom disappointed. Still, if the two online shows got listless across certain long passages, it was because both vocalists sought to bite off more than they could chew.

After the main piece, Aditya went for a Ragam Tanam Pallavi. The alapana rolled out Salakabhairavi, Vasanthabhairavi and Sindhubhairavi. All three ragas reappeared in that order down the subsequent segments. (The tanam strangely painted shades of Mukhari and even Bhairavi, inviting quizzical looks from Shrikanth). Again lasting 39 minutes, the vocalist rarely sounded in control, with an end round that turned out to be graceless acrobatics.

Sunil faced a similar problem, but that was with a fairly simpler exercise — alapana of Bilahari. Fast vibrations popped up off-key notes in increasing frequencies, but they couldn’t dampen the vocalist. Violinist V. Deepika dodged the pitfalls and responded calmly. In her alapana, however, she faltered at least once.

Aditya Madhavan performing for Mudhra’s December 2021 festival

Aditya Madhavan performing for Mudhra’s December 2021 festival

To his credit, Sunil did display high standard in his previous exposition. Poornashadjam came in full bloom through an alapana that revealed the core of the Natabhairavi-janya raga beyond what initially sounded like Manirangu punctuating Ritigowla. ‘Lavanya Rama’ was as beautiful as its lines — and Sunil looked settled after ‘Ethavuna Nerchitivo’ (Yadukula Kamboji), also by Tyagaraja. The Bilahari was sad, though the kriti (‘Paridanamichithe’) did salvaged it somewhat.

The subsequent Vegavahini was avoidable owing to its near-duplication. The parent raga being Chakravakam, a key member of the morning raga family that includes Nadanamakriya — Sunil’s opening selection. Such replication crept into Aditya’s concert as wll: Vasanthabhairavi, when expanded in the RTP, embraced strains of the vocalist’s piece de resistance. Since, Mayamalavagowla isn’t that far off Vakulabharanam, from which is derived Vasanthabhairavi.

Salakabhairavi being a janya of Karaharapriya gave Aditya’s penultimate Kapi-raga ‘Parulamata’ an awkward sense of déjà vu. Coincidentally, Sunil too sang this Subbaraya Iyer javali, escorting it to Mangalam, where the humble Surutti capped ‘Prahlada naradadi’ in Sourashtram.

Again coincidentally, Aditya’s second composition was in Sourashtram. The invocatory ‘Saranu Siddhi Vinayaka’ (Purandaradasa) bore a swaraprastara that first appeared like a stray-off but went on to revel in the raga’s own freshness. More noticeably, Aditya’s opening ‘Viribhoni’ delivered the illustrious Bhairavi varnam’s less-heard anubandham beginning with ‘Chiru chematalu’. This enriched the literary content after ‘Chiru navvu momuna’, which is usually the end point of Pacchimiriyam Adiyappayya’s 18th-century magnum opus.

After Sourashtram, Aditya intelligently juxtaposed ‘Jambupate’ in an unhurried Yamuna Kalyani against ‘Ninuvina verevaru’ set to raga Malavi. That set the backdrop for the 70-minute main in Mayamalavagowla.

The Kerala-based reviewer focuses on music and dance.

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