Classical music Music

An annual series of concerts in Hyderabad went digital prior to lockdown

Vyjayanti Sisters

Vyjayanti Sisters   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Hyderabad’s Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram live streamed its concerts days before the lockdown following the outbreak of COVID-19

In what was the last leg of classical concerts held in Hyderabad prior to the Coronavirus scare, Sangeetha Ksheera Sagaram’s expansive line-up of artists for their annual music series held at Saptaparni didn’t go unnoticed by connoisseurs. The latter half of the concert series had yet again provided a major impetus for the instrumentalists besides comprising a vocal performance as well.

Tirupati-based flautist Manda Anantha Krishna brought forward a sense of elegance and flavour to his presentation in a concert where he was supported by his student V Lakshmi. Among a few instrumentalists whose method isn’t completely reliant on bringing out the beauty of the raga alone, his terrific understanding of sahitya bhava has always enriched the listener experience.

Balamuralikrishna’s rivetingly paced varnam in Gambheeranata ragam, Amma Ananda Dayini provided an electrifying start to the proceedings. The beauty of the composition was brought out well with the seamless tonal shift to Shive Shive Varala Rasive and the return to the pallavi segment. The ability of the Shanmukhapriya ragam to dig into the deepest corners of the human core came through in the intense rendition of Mutthaiah Bhagavatar’s Valli Nayaka.

Little needs to be said about how soul-warming can the Thyagaraja Pancharatna kriti Sadhinchene be on the flute, where the musician had explored the Arabhi ragam in its complete glory handling its complex swara phrases with grace. Anantha Krishna had later moved onto Ramaswamy Shivan’s Neekela Dayaradu and tapped the enquiring-nature of its lyric through the Sarasangi ragam, during which his neraval at the pallavi also impressed.

Sogasugaa Mridanga Talamu’s presence at the concert was significant, given it is among a handful of kritis that discusses the deep connection between classical music and spirituality. His elaborate ragalapana in Sri Ranjani leading to the kriti set the tone for the performance well, while the brisk swarakalpana and neraval consolidated on a good start. His best yet reflected in O Ranga Sai, conventionally a vocalist’s favourite for the main item, where he chose Bhuloka Vaikuntam for the neraval and swarakalpana. The upbeat mridangam artiste Karra Srinivas and T P Balasubramanyam’s measured performance on the ghatam complemented the flautist well.

The accompanists (also including violinist Oruganti Rajasekhar) and Anantha Krishna rose to the occasion with Balamuralikrishna’s Gathibhedapriya tillana, with all of its stanzas set to different ragas and gathis. The coordination across five ragas and gathis could have been tricky yes, but the unified rendition cleared all suspicion in the mind of a rasika.

A memorable duet

Vocal duets are a challenge in terms of coordination, but they give the vocalists a chance to capitalise on their strengths, unlike the solos where the responsibility of shouldering the concert alone can occasionally become a burden for the musician too. Jyothi Vaidyanathan and Jayanthi Vaidyanathan, better known as Vyjayanthi sisters, have a great musical legacy being the granddaughters of renowned musician Balasubramania Bhagavathar. With similar shruti and varied vocal range, their synchronisation was a musical delight.

The all-women concert where the vocalists were accompanied by Radhika Srinivasan on violin, Veenadhari on mridangam and Radha Gopi was rich in lyrical diversity, featuring the works of Thyagaraja, Swathi Tirunal, Patnam Subramanya Iyer, Oothukadu Venkatasubbaiyer, Dikshitar, Tukaram. The vocalists were terrific with their ragalapanas, be it Purvikalyani (for Deva Deva Jagadeswara), Saranga (Entha Bhagyamu) or the main item Kamalambam Bhajare in Kalyani ragam. The rendition of complicated swara phrases at a breath-taking pace with Vararagalaya in rarely explored ragam like Chenchu Kambhoji was arresting. Tukaram’s abhang Tujhe Naam elicited the piousness in the poet’s writing.

With a fusion twist

Cultural critic and musician Jaywant Naidu, the well-known Hawaiian guitarist in Hyderabad, gave most of his raga delineations a fusion touch in his solo concert. His performance was predominantly set on a Hindustani music base, with a mild Western music undertone, occasionally enriched by the Carnatic touches too. It’s sometimes liberating when the musicians don’t restrict the scope of a raga to a certain kriti or a composition. It was this facet that made Jaywant’s concert reach out to a wider audience, it allowed the audience to experience pure music without trying to overwhelm them.

Jaywant chose the fundamental raga to every Hindustani music learner, raag Yaman to begin the concert. A soothing alaap paved way to a pleasing jod with a captivating rhythm, while he gradually proceeded from the vilambit to the drut teen taal. While he had consistently taken an alaap-jod pattern to bring out the flavour of other raags too like Jog and Malkauns, he experimented with the madhyalay teen taal too with impressive proficiency. The familiarity he struck with the audiences with a brief exploration of Kondalalo Nelakonna during the Malkauns delineation was timely.

The lightness of the dhun in the concert in raag Mishrakamaj was a welcome break from the intense renditions. Considering a request, the musician played Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje on the instrument later, while the Carnatic music streaks brought a delightful closure to the music series with a gath set to Addha teen taal in raag Sindhu Bhairavi. Tabla players Sawan Kakkeri and Amit Bhushan with their rhythm and refined understanding of the taal patterns struck a chord with their on-stage camaraderie.

(The concerts, made available through live-streaming, were held on March 14,16,17)

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 6:26:58 PM |

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