Music

A suitable boy for the prime slot

Ramakrishna Murthy.  

Right from his opening spell with Ata tala varnam in Kalyani ‘Vanajakshi ninne’, to the final delivery in ‘Ramachandraya Janaka’ in Kurinji, Ramakrishnan Murthy’s concert was full-on right-arm Carnatic orthodox.

Ramakrishnan, elevated this year to the prime 7 p.m. slot, possesses in ample measure everything that makes a well-rounded Carnatic vocalist. Be it cosmetics (demeanour, attire, body language) or musicianship (manodharma, control over laya, voice modulation, sruti suddham, enunciation, gamakas, felicity).

The swara kalpana at ‘kamalaa gowri’ in Thyagaraja’s Mayamalavagowla kriti ‘Vidulaku’ was full of drugging azhuttam in the first round before graduating to a speedy sarvalaghu, each nokku of which was deposited precisely in its swarasthana. The violinist, Delhi P. Sunderrajan, who was by no means below par, was made to look pale in comparison.

It appears Ramakrishnan’s voice has frayed with use and acquired a lamination of coarseness. This texture comes strategically into play when he softens his voice, which in turn lends it a husky emotionality.

The Sahana alapana that preceded Thyagaraja’s ‘Raghupate Rama’ was an exercise in decisive spontaneity, as though it was following a script on autopilot.

The clarity and ease of his gamakas (the way every note is clenched with a heavy nokku calls to mind a sturdy rack and pinion mechanism) indicate the rigour he has invested in his vocation.

The stage backdrop used this year at The Music Academy is wittingly or unwittingly a piece of revelatory art. And Ramakrishnan’s style brought it into stark focus. The banners display threads woven with sharp angularity into line art depicting instruments.

The way the threads are stretched taut around their nodes rings strikingly true of how weighty gamakas and nokkus serve to fasten the melodic line around the anchor pegs of swaras and tie it firmly into an intelligible form — a great metaphor for how azhuttam yields the ragaswarupa.

And this internal logic is a key facet of Ramakrishnan Murthy’s style. His azhutham, which is accentuated by his adherence to crisp enunciation and mixed with sensitivity, renders the music ripe.

After delivering a sumptuous Ahiri in ‘Mayamma’, the ensemble took up the main piece ‘Akshayalinga vibho’ in Sankarabharanam.

There is coherence in Ramakrishnan Murthy’s singing. A kind of integrity which makes you curious to know the melodic story the singer is telling you in its every detail.

A Sankarabharanam alapana has no words, but when it was so conscientiously rendered, one tended to sit up and become alert and absorptive to every nuance. While the violinist’s tone again seemed plain, he hit all the right notes.

The niraval at ‘badari vanamula naayikaa’ was followed by kalpanaswaras that had an overall symmetry and balance.

Manoj Siva played with sensitivity, modulating his amplitude to suit the vocalist’s sancharas.

In the thani to follow in the next number, he and Khanjira artiste N. Amrit would exude the same sense of structure.

Following a modern trend, Ramakrishnan essayed a dual raga ragam-tanam-pallavi, flitting between Mohanam and Shanmukhapriya, as though manoeuvring in Chennai traffic.

While there is considerable skill involved in simultaneously holding two aesthetic moods in your mind, one wonders whether this allows either mood to take shape properly.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 3:27:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/ramakrishnan-murthy-a-suitable-boy-for-the-prime-slot/article8025741.ece

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