Music

The magic maker

K.J. Yesudas. Photo: S.S. Kumar  

The initial part of K.J. Yesudas’s concert did little to satisfy the expectations of the rasika who regards the celebrated vocalist as the ‘wizard of music’ as his promotional literature once used to describe him. Tyagaraja’s ‘Janakiramana’ (Suddha Seemanthini), ‘Sangeetha Gnanamu’ (Dhanyasi) and ‘Brochevarevare’ (Sriranjani) were…. well… nice, but neither had the signature beauty of Yesudas.

Then came the alapana of Malayamarutam which spiced up the concert to some extent. The raga essay began with the name-tag phrase ‘Ga pa da sa’, but the very second phrase broke off into brigas. It was a brief alapana but the meditative riches of the raga would have come out better if only the development of the raga had been conducted at a leisurely pace.

Tyagaraja’s ‘Manasa Etulo’ flowed after the alapana, but again, the pace of the rendition was a trifle too quick for the full resonance with the mood of the composition. Eight Seasons ago, Yesudas sang the same raga, the same song at the same hall, incidentally in the company of the same violinst, Nagai Muralidharan, but the present Malayamarutham did not meet the high standards set by that rendition — not because of the voice, though, voice is still great.

But then, when Yesudas is around, can greatness be far behind?

Sitting there like a rishi - long locks, beard and all - eyes closed and wearing a half-smile, he poured forth a superb Kalyani. It was a very Yesudas-ish alapana — sharply varying high-pitch, low-pitch ‘dynamics’, going right up to the second upper sa and later diving to the depths of the second lower sa, riding all the three octaves with ease.

Either by design or happenstance, Yesudas often teased the audience by ending his phrases at the upper madhyamam, raising expectations of a big karvai on the upper ‘pa’, but only to slide back to the lower notes. The karvai came eventually, and the moment was like seeing Goddess Kalyani on the stage. Tyagaraja’s ‘Ethavunara’ followed with niraval and swaras at ‘Bhookamalaaksha’. A very satisfying Kalyani, indeed!

K.V.Prasad (mridangam) and Thirupunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) played a whisper-soft tani — a pleasant contrast from the modern practice of making the percussion beats equivalent of bursting fire-crackers near the listener’s eardrum.

After the tani, the concert faded into a set of light songs, the notable of which was a Tiruppugazh verse set in a raga called Ragamoorthy, which (Yesudas said) was Ganamoorthy without the ‘pa’.

(ramesh.m@ thehindu.co.in)

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Printable version | Apr 17, 2021 9:21:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/The-magic-maker/article11604914.ece

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