Music

Youthful artistry

The 13-year-old veena player Ramana Balachandran is remarkable for his expertise, spontaneity and equanimity

The Thyagaraja Gana Sabha Trust, Bangalore, organised a veena concert by 14-year-old Ramana Balachandran recently. The accompanying artistes were Arjun Kumar (mridanga) and Ranganatha Chakravarthy (ghata).

The recital, which began with an adi thala varna in Kamboji, proceeded with the Deekshithar composition ‘Ganarajena Rakshithoham’ set to Arabhi raga and mishra chapu thala adorned with a few rounds of kalpana swaras.

A finely nuanced rendition of Shyama Shastri’s “Mayamma” in Ahiri, brimming with raga bhava and reflecting the beseeching tone of the lyrics followed.

The complex vivadi scale of Sruthiranjini was handled with great finesse and imbued with softness in the ensuing brief elaboration, suffixed with the Thyagaraja krithi ‘Edari Sancharinthura’ in adi thala and some fluid kalpana swaras.

Anandabhairavi was taken up for a fairly detailed alapana that enshrined the gamaka-laden beauty of the raga, the gradual progression upwards punctuated with symmetrical and consonant phrases integral to its identity. Thyagaraja’s ‘Neeke Theliyaka’ in adi thala was supplemented with kalpana swaras in two speeds that mirrored the melodic essence of the raga.

Considerable manodharma skills were explicit in the detailed exposition of Poorvikalyani, one of the highlights of the concert. A plethora of sancharas at each of the pivotal notes such as the gandhara, panchama and the thara sthayi shadja, and in the lower and higher octaves attested as well to admirable dexterity and a keen aesthetic sense. ‘Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi’, the Deekshithar krithi in adi thala was succeeded by kalpana swaras in two speeds, appended to the anu pallavi line beginning ‘Meenalochani Pashamochani’, with a focus on the thara shadja in the concluding stages of the exercise. Outstanding percussion support, in complete consonance with the intent of the lead artiste was in evidence throughout the concert, and culminated in the intricate and absorbing, though rather lengthy, thani avarthana.

The concert also incorporated a raga thana pallavi in Surutti set to tishra jathi ata thala, with the laghus in tishra gathi and the druthas in chathurashra gathi. While the compact, yet exquisite alapana embodied the sweet classicism of the raga, its special usages and its diverse shades, the thana wove a tapestry of intermeshed lilting patterns.

The pallavi, which also included the mandatory tempo variations and short ragamalika kalpana swaras in Chandrakauns and Kanada, was a reaffirmation of a firm grip over laya, the idiom and the instrument.

Lack of time, apparently, prevented the deeper exploration and more comprehensive treatment of the components that the item warranted.

The presentation was remarkable for the expertise, spontaneity and equanimity of the main instrumentalist, rarely seen in one so young.

Several of the songs were introduced vocally along with the sahithya, the veena taking over thereafter and infusing them with an old world charm and attesting to familiarity with the lyrics.

Adherence to the dictates of classicism, fidelity to the traditional contours of ragas such as Ahiri and Anandabhairavi, unobtrusive plucking, the fine tonal quality and deft modulation displayed in the recital, augur well for the development of the young artiste into a consummate performer.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 10:49:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/13yearold-veena-player-ramana-balachandran/article7481524.ece

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