Meeting point of diverse banis

Krishna Ramarathnam. Photo: K.V. Srinivasan   | Photo Credit: K_V_Srinivasan

Sugandha Kalamegam’s vocal concert at the Nadopasana music festival the Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, Mylapore, may not have been exciting but it was definitely an engaging fare since Sugandha belongs to the school that believes in strict adherence to the classical tradition. Therefore, there were no frills. By choosing kritis of various composers, Sugandha offered variety and made her concert worthwhile.

Her raga essays were upfront and methodical. She chose three ragas for expansive treatment -- Ritigowla, Thodi and Varali. They emphasised the singer’s simple -- but not simplistic -- approach. However, one cannot but feel that Sugandha could have suffused some more strength and substance to them with her long years of experience. There is no gainsaying that her mellifluous voice to a great extent fulfilled the grammar of the raga.

She chose ‘Mamava Meenakshi’ of Dikshitar in Varali with a fleeting niraval on ‘Syame Sankari’ with swaras. She repeated this in her Ritigowla fare, ‘Raga Ratna’ with ‘Bhagavathothamulu Koodi’ and ‘Kaddanuvaariki’ in Thodi and in the anupallavi.

Instead of giving the same time and treatment to all the items, Sugandha could have dwelt deep on one raga. . The swaras were mostly prudent and marched straight to the korvai after a few rounds. V. Sanjeev on the violin elicited some delicate phrases for Ritigowla and Varali. He maintained a dignified profile in swaras and in accompanying the senior artist. The percussion artists Shertalai Ananthakrishnan on the mridangam and A.S. Krishnan on the morsing filled the bill.

Krishna Ramarathnam is a youngster with lot of energy and enthusiasm. He hails from a musical family, being a grandson of Sathur Subramaniam. With a robust voice, Krishna showed enough potential to sing manodharma sangeetham. His Bhairavi alapana for Tyagaraja’s ‘Ae Nati Nomu Balamu’ proved his creativity in no uncertain terms. But, his opening numbers were slightly shaky; Krishna needs to keep a close watch on sruti alignment, especially during flights and landing of phrases in raga alapana.

‘Birana Brova’ and ‘Manasu Nilba’ had raga prefaces of Kalyani and Abogi; his swarakalpanas had enough verve, though they were repetitive at times. A control over them will help make them more impressive.

Kovai Chandran played his role in the violin with ease and competence. So was the support from Guru Raghavendran on the mridangam.

The veena recital by Srivani (from Tirupathi) created an ambiance of serenity. From the opening Khambodi Ata Tala varnam ‘Sarasijanabaha’ to the concluding Desh thillana of Lalgudi Jayaraman, the programme was meticulously planned and executed. The young and energetic percussionists Nellai Balaji on the mridangam and Master S. Krishna on the ghatam contributed richly to the concert with exact rhythmic structures.

Srivani smartly deployed the speciality of the veena in bringing out dainty phrases of Shanmukhapriya (‘Siddhi Vinayakam’ by Dikshitar) and Thodi (‘Koluvamaragada’ of Tyagaraja). The raga essays were, therefore, comprehensive and captivating. The tanam in Thodi alternated between medium and fast tempo effectively. Srivani’s swara streams in ‘Siddhi Vinayakam’ and on ‘Dambura Jekoni’ in ‘Koluvamaragada’ following the niraval ended with enchanting korvais.

Safe choice

Dr Prapancham Sitaram played it safe by choosing well known ragas and compositions. ‘Viribhoni’, the Bhairavi varnam was the opening number. ‘Raghu Nayaka’ in Hamsadhwani, Abheri raga with ‘Nagumomu’ with its variety of sangatis always a delight for the instrumentalists, Bahudari raga essay with ‘Brovabarama’, ‘Telisirama’ in Poornachandrika, ‘Chalamelara’ in Marga Hindolam, Sahana elaboration with ‘Giripai Nela’ were notable.

Flute artists generally prefer to demonstrate fast rolling, spiralling sangatis and a few razor edge phrases. Dr. Sitaram was no exception. But some of his forays turned out to be tentative rather than authoritative. The upper region phrases were sharper than soothing. His vision of raga essays showed his musical insight and his swarakalpana worked on calculated moves. Had the gap between the vision and deliverance been bridged, the quality would have been of a higher level.

V.V. Ravi played softly, and almost sacrificed his part in the Sahana alapana and concluded it in just a couple of minutes. R. Ramesh and Pudukottai Ramachandran on the mridangam and the ghatam, respectively, were adequate.

(With due respect to the organisers, one cannot but appreciate the forbearance and fortitude of the audience in patronising music at a hall where the seats are ergonomically uncomfortable and also braving the mosquito bites. After all, good music compensates many things in life.)

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Printable version | Oct 16, 2021 7:14:53 PM |

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