Music

In their gurus' footsteps

Suguna Purushothaman. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

Suguna Purushothaman. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan   | Photo Credit: S_R_Raghunathan

Senior vocalist Suguna Purushothaman is not only a renowned guru, but also a composer and concert performer of repute. She has a thin but melodious voice and, therefore, never strains much to present her music.

The voice sounds natural and sometimes has the potential to haunt the listener. What's more, she has the ability to render a kriti with bhava, which perhaps is a trademark of the Musiri School. An involved singer, she emotes well to suit the sahitya and that does all the magic.

Suguna began with a ragamalika varnam, ‘Sankara Harapriye Uma Kumara' and then moved on to a Tamizh kriti ‘Sri Kamakshi Kadakshi' in Vasantha, with lively chittaiswarams.

She took up Mukhari for alapana and her years of experience enabled her manodharma sancharas to scale heights. The kriti chosen was Tyagaraja's ‘Enthanine.' There was novelty in Suguna'spresentation here: she went about the usual ‘Kanulara Sevinchi' for niraval as well as swaraprastara in the first round and then took up the phrase ‘Padhayuga Mulagu' for a short swaraprastara again to complete the kriti.

The violinist Mullaivasal Chandramouli proved a worthy companion. He seemed to echo the vocalist's passages in his version but added his own ideas to make it charming.

The Swati Tirunal piece in Kapi, ‘Vihara Maanasa Syame, Sachidananda Ganashyame' would have been most suitable for post-thani segment. It was as fresh as a flower with morning dew in the vocalist's soft voice. If the lyrical sound was pure joy, the tune added that extra melodic touch.

Suguna's Poorvikalyani raga alapana was a magnificent edifice of creativity, built phrase by phrase. She required such a beautiful prelude to present the Dikshitar kriti, ‘Meenakshi Me Mudham Dehi.' Using her pliant voice, she rendered the niraval ‘Veena Gaana Dasa Gamaka Priye,' moving from lower to higher octaves easily. The swarakalpanas that followed were short. ‘Balambike Pahi', a Manoranjani raga kriti of Dikshitar, followed.

For the Ragam Tanam Pallavi, Suguna chose Keeravani. The elaborate alapana was divided into two parts. The second part saw more improvisation than the first. After tanam, the vocalist announced that her pallavi would be rendered as a ragatalamalika with 48 aksharam, chatusra jathi rupaka talam. The pallavi was ‘Vani Saraswati Sriranjani.' It was a treat for both laymen and laya-rasikas.

The accompanists, apart from Chandramouli on the violin, were Thanjavur Kumar on the mridangam and R.M. Deenadayalu on the morsing. Kumar is a seasoned player and his anticipation and alertness helped in the smooth passage of the programme. Deenadayalu's playing was appropriate in places and during the thani, both weaved various rhythmic patterns. A brisk thillana ‘Neela vannanai Ninainthal' brought the concert to a close.



PALAI C.K. RAMACHANDRAN saw to it that he kept the tempo throughout. It was full of verve and vidwat, right from the ‘Intha Chala' varnam in Begada to the concluding thillana.

Belonging to the Semmangudi school, all of Ramachandran's swaraprastaras, without exception, reminded one of his guru's style. Especially, the final long-winding swarakalpana is a hallmark of Semmangudi which he employed with effortless ease.

Ramachandran managed to pack nearly 13 ‘uruppidis' in his performance of two and a half of hours, including an elaborate Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi. This, perhaps, is a record of sorts. His raga alapana, niraval and swarakalpana had a proportion, in the sense that if he embarked on a longish swaraprasthara at the end, he used minimal swaras in the beginning or sang shorter niravals.

The vocalist chose the Mayamalavagowla kriti of Swati Tirunal, ‘Deva Deva Kalayamite' with niraval and swaras in ‘Jatharoopa nipachela,' again typical of his guru. He presented a short alapana of Mukari for ‘Ksheenamai', another favourite of his master.

Being the Sabarimala season, the vocalist chose ‘Hariharaputram' of Dikshitar in Vasantha. Since there was no alapana or niraval to pad up the kriti, he ventured into a marathon swara singing, and naturally the audience lapped it up with a round of applause.

The Kalyani raga alapana that followed had some enchanting moments. Ramachandran used his imaginative skills in picturising the raga in all its glitter. The kriti was ‘Birana Brova Idey.'

He had a competent violinist in T.H. Subramanian, whose version matched that of the main artist. While the niraval for the lines ‘Ni Paada Pankajamu' was appealing, the swarakalpanas were rendered with refreshing swara patterns, and it looked like Subramanian had a vibrant conversation on his violin with the vocalist.

‘Marivere' in Anandabhairavi was comparatively in a relaxed pace and that was befitting the sahityam, too. As a contrast, he rendered ‘Ni Dayarada' the Vasanthabhairavi raga kriti of Tyagaraja in durita kalam. The raga alapana of Shanmughapriya for the RTP was grand, with all its sangatis in place, karvais in style and akaara prayoga reminiscent of Semmangudi. The pallavi, ‘Saravanabhava Muruga Guhane,' was marked for its laya control.

The thani that followed immediately by Umayalpuram Mali on the mridangam and Thrikakara Shantharam on the ganjira was enjoyable. It must be mentioned that Mali's accompaniment for the kritis was crisp and his korvais were beautiful. Enough opportunities were given to the ganjira artist also to display his talent. (Normally the ganjira is heard only during the thani!).

The Paras javali, ‘Smarasundaranguni' came soon after, followed by a devarnama ‘Naneka Padavanu Naneka Paradesi' in Behag. Ramachandran still had time and went on to ‘Taruni Gnan Enthu Cheyyum,' a Malayalam padam in Dwijavanti. The viruttam ‘Moulav Ganga Sasangam' in Sanskrit and ‘Idathu Padam Thooki Adum', a Tamizh song of Papanasam Sivan in Khamas quickly followed.

That Ramachandran sang in all the four South Indian languages besides Sanskrit is a point that was conspicuous in his concert. Whatever the language, his diction was commendable.

Charukesiviswanathan @yahoo.co.in

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 12:01:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/In-their-gurus-footsteps/article15506163.ece

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