Music

Packed with ragas

M. Narmadha. Photo: R. Shivaji Rao  

At Brahma Gana Sabha it was a concert steeped in classical tradition. Neela Ramgopal chose quite a few rare ragas and each composition was from a different composer. Except for the Navaragamalika varnam ‘Valachi’ and later on ‘Kannatanrinaapai,’ a Tyagaraja kriti in Devamanohari, all others were quite unfamiliar. After the varnam came ‘Mahaganapatim’ in Amruthavauhini raga, followed by Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Kannadagowla kriti ‘Neelothpalambikaya.’ The raga delineation of Nalinakanti was quite good by both Neela and the violinist Charulatha Ramanujam, bringing out its charm. The kriti was ‘Nee Padame Gathi,’ sung with swaras for the pallavi line.

This was followed by Bavapriya, the alapana of which confused the audience as it is not heard often. It was exhaustive, exploring the strong points of the raga. Though her age posed certain constraints, particularly while singing in the higher registers, she still valiantly dealt with it without missing the pitch even once. Charulatha too matched her in every department, though she must avoid playing longer than the main artist either in the alapana or the swaras section. The chosen item was Swati Tirunal’s ‘Maamava Aasruta’ with extensive niraval and swaras. This was followed by Syama Sastri’s Abheri composition ‘Ninnuvina.’ Neela chose Bageshri for RTP. The raga essay was soothing and evocative. The pallavi was set to misra triputa tala and it was sung with all the traditional anulomam, pratilomam and tisram. It also had a ragamalika in the swara segment with Amrutavarshini, Neelambari and Revathi. Arun Prakash on the mridangam and Alathur Rajaganesh on the ganjira provided able support and played a decent thani.

After the Durbar varnam, Dr. Narmada’s brief alapana of Hamsadhwani was aesthetically pleasant, though the swaras for Koteeswara Iyer’s ‘Varanamukhava’ were typical. A quick ‘Raghuvamsasuda’ in Kathanakuthoohalam preceded the Purnashadjam kriti ‘Lavanya Rama’ with a short spell of swaras. The rendition of Umabharana raga kriti ‘Nijamarmamulanu’ which has interesting Chittaiswaras was her next effort. An interesting sketch of melakarta raga Maanavathi prefixed Tyagaraja’s ‘Evaritho.’ The alapana of Simhendramadhyamam before the Ooothukadu composition ‘Asaindadum Mayilondru’ touched the main aspects of the raga.

The swaras for the pallavi was done like a ‘sawal-jawab’ segment with Madippakkam Suresh on the mridangam and Venkataramanan on the ganjira. The latter’s presence during the concert was hardly felt. The Suddhasaveri kriti ‘Kaalaharana’ was suddenly followed by the popular ‘Katrinile Varum Geetham’ which would normally come as a Tukkada. The main raga was Sahana, the essay was quite pleasant particularly when she played at the lower register. The song ‘Giripai’ had a brief spell of swaras in which there was a change of ‘kaalam’ within a cycle which was quite interesting. The thani avartanam took place at this point.

After the Charukesi kriti, Duddu Radhika’s essay of Pantuvarali was a sincere offering of the raga preceding ‘Raghuvara Nannu.’ Some spurts of good spells came from Dinakar on the violin. Radhika took up niraval and swaras at ‘Manasuna.’ ‘Sogasu Jooda Tarama’ in Kannadagowla by Tyagaraja formed a pleasant interlude before she moved on to the main item Sankarabharanam. The raga elaboration was just a copy book version, but it was good to hear her singing quite a bit in the lower octave. Misra jampa tala kriti ‘Sri Dakshinamurthe’ of Dikshitar was rendered in an unhurried pace. The kalapanaswaras were sung for the pallavi. She seemed to follow a certain pattern for singing swaras. Radhika took a longer time here which left a little time for the thani by Burra Sriram.

Though quite young Malladi Vasavi referred her notebook for every song, in spite of which she made mistakes with her very first piece ‘Pranamamyaham’ in Gowla by Mysore Vasudevachar. After the Atana raga kriti ‘Anupamagunambudi,’ the essay of Ramamanohari lacked depth. Aarthi Shankar on the violin was a little better. Dikshitar’s ‘Mathangi’ was accompanied by swaras for the pallavi. The Bilahari composition of Patnam Subramania Iyer ‘Paritanamichithe’ came before the main raga alapana, Kharaharapriya. The kriti ‘Sowmithri Bhagyame’ sounded better as her voice had warmed up, which was cracking at the lower register earlier perhaps due to sore throat. The niraval and swaram –was it Kalpana or Kalpita? – took so long that the mridangam artist Arjun Raghavan who hardly had any time to show his prowess, appeared totally disconnected with the proceedings.

It was heartening to see a good number of youngsters at the concert of Sanjay Subrahmanyan. Beginning with the ata tala varnam in Kedaragowla, he moved on to ‘Ananda Natamaduvar Thillai’ in Purvikalyani. In the niraval of ‘Paadimathi Jothi’ there was playing around with the words ‘Paleer Paleer.’ There were short spells of swaras at two different places. Sanjay delved into the essence of raga Kannada before ‘Mariyemigavanu’ with swaras at the pallavi. In a contrastingly slower but attractive tempo came ‘Soundara Rajam’ of Dikshitar in Brindavanasaranga. Other than the RTP in Kedaram, the major item was Bhairavi. The alapana presented a wide spectrum of the majestic raga touching on both the strong points and the subtle nuances. Sanjeev gave unobtrusive support while playing on the violin. The percussionists Patri Sathish Kumar on the mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on the ganjira, though very good, often seemed to be in their own world. The chosen song in Bhairavi was ‘Koluvaiyunnade’ of Tyagaraja. ‘Manasuranjilla’ was the line taken up for niraval and swarams. With a good mridangam support the ‘kanakku’ and clever manipulations of tala in swara singing was possible. Sanjay used just the combination of ‘pa pa da ma pa’ and played around with it, but too much of that pushed ‘sowkyam’ to the back seat.

A vibrant thani was presented by Sathish Kumar and Athreya at this point. Contrastingly the Kedara raga alapana was a soulful rendering with all the richness followed by the tanam. The pallavi ‘Kanakasabesanai’ was set to chapu tala. The swara segment had a string of ragas such as Hamirkalyani, Sahana, Dhanyasi, Mohanam and Hamsanandi.

The final items were ‘Iduthano Thillaisthalam’ in Sindhubhairavi, a virutham in Behag followed by Papansasam Sivan’s ‘Karpagambikai’ in that raga and a tillana in Durbarikanada.


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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 2:49:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/packed-with-ragas/article2755131.ece

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