Music

Different, as usual

Sanjay Subrahmanyan  

The Sathguru Gnanananda Hall in Alwarpet, was packed even before Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s vocal concert for Bharat Sangeeth Utsav began. Over the years, he has earned the reputation as a performer who makes special efforts to learn and present rare kritis, and does his homework well. Even his end pieces do not take the beaten path. For the Tamil segment, his repertoire includes gems from Tirumoolar, Thayumanavar, Bharatiar and Siddhar Padalgal, to name a few.

The concert that evening was no different and as the curtains went up, it was delightful to see the entire team dressed impeccably in white.

Sanjay commenced with a tricky varnam in Vachaspati. It was learnt that this varnam was written by Tiger Varadachari in praise of Rukmini Devi Arundale and Kalakshetra. The phrases were a real test to the singer’s ability.

A warm-up well executed, led to a less than half a minute Sama. As one was yearning for more, he commenced with Tyagaraja’s ‘Santhamu leka.’ A big contrast to the varnam was its pace. The kalpanaswaras made up for what the rasikas missed out in the brief raga essays. Stressing on musical interpretation of the raga within the rhythm but never meandering into a rhythmic exercise, Sanjay made this segment soulful. Particularly heartening were his gentle, plain parabolic glides to panchamam while singing ‘leka’ in the pallavi every time he completed a garland of swaras.

Kamalamanohari followed and Sanjay’s first phrase of the raga did establish it. The rendition of Mysore Sadasiva Rao’s ‘Narasimhududayinchenu’ took us back to the days of Sanjay’s performances as a teen. His interpretation of this high octane kriti led this writer to imagine Lord Narasimha standing tall.

Mridangam vidwan Neyveli B. Venkatesh added the vigour to the song joined by K.V. Gopalakrishnan (ganjira). A commendable sketch of Mukhari was further strengthened by violinist Varadarajan’s reply, which led to Sivan’s ‘Sivakamasundari’. As Varadarajan was angling towards the end, some in the audience pre-empted by humming the traditional last lines of the raga, which was uncalled for. Varadarajan cleverly broke off to unleash some fast phrases before ending his reply that cut short the over indulgent rasikas.

‘Kelayo En Kuraigal’ were the charanam lines for niraval. Open-mouthed singing using the nabhi and kanta are Sanjay’s strengths and it did help him explore Mukhari with stress on the emotions.

Musicians of yore believed that researching the saint poet’s kritis will help a singer understand a raga and its structure better. Sanjay’s Charukesi was clearly on these lines. Adding his imagination with shades of the saint poet’s ‘Aadamodi gala’ now and then, Sanjay’s was an aesthetic and tidy exercise. Varadarajan proved to be a good foil to the singer here.

Dasar’s ‘Ondhe Manadalli Bhajisi’ had Venkatesh playing an array of nadais that embellished the kriti to a great extent. Particularly impressive were his beats during the swara korvai.

Two hours into the concert, Sanjay presented an RTP in Simhendramadyamam in Chatusrajathi Tirupadai talam. His tanam was the highlight here with symmetrical phrases built on the lines of a vainika. The thani of Venkatesh in the company of Gopalakrishnan will be remembered for a long time to come. The complicated rhythmic patterns only showed his dedication to this art and the hours of practice he has put in to reach this level. KVG did not lag behind.

The end pieces comprised ‘Mukthi Alikkum’, ‘Vetta Velidhannil’, ‘Samayamidey’ and ‘Iduvo Thillai,’ all rendered with apt emotions.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 8:49:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/different-as-usual/article6570705.ece

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