T.M. Krishna. Photo: V. Ganesan  

A full house at The Music Academy affirmed that there are rasikas who are willing to go with T. M. Krishna’s orthodox music in an unorthodox format. He opened with a reposeful ‘Brovavamma’ (Maanji, Syama Sastry). It set the tone for a concert that was soaked in melody.

Sriram Kumar (violin) who shared centre stage with Krishna, and Arun Prakash, the contemporary melody-maker on the mridangam, synchronised perfectly with added support from B.S. Purushotham (ganjira). Krishna and Sriram successfully portrayed Maanji as a distinct raga from Bhairavi.

Krishna then elaborated Jaganmohini (Sobillu Saptaswara), which he sang at a moderate pace, with niraval and swaras at ‘Nabhi Hrut Kanta’. Here, the swara finale was for the violinist exclusively. Sriram finished it off well, and played a brilliant alapana of Dwijavanti; this was followed by ‘Cheta Sri Balakrishnam’ rendered at Krishna’s favoured pace. Again, a memorable experience.

Krishna’s stand-alone tanam for Purvikalyani showcased his improvisation skill and highlighted its entertainment value. Switching to the conventional mode for a change, Krishna sang an alapana of Kharaharapriya (‘Nadachi Nadachi’) that did not appear to be his best for this raga. The kriti was sung at a normal pace and swaras were faster to lead to the second ‘Nadachi’ of the pallavi. This shifted the landing to a difficult point of the tala and challenged the accompaniments.

It was a good lead up to the tani. Arun and Purushotham wove their calculated rhythmic patterns without unleashing violence on the animal skins that they handled. Their ‘ahimsa’ approach appeased the lay listener, while their prowess must have impressed the pundits of laya. Their short exchanges (kuraippu) towards the end blended well.

After briefly leading the listener to believe that he was closer to the format by starting a sloka (‘Shantakaram’) in Nattai, Krishna sprang a surprise by singing Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kriti, ‘Jagadanandakaraka’.

For a major part of this song, the violinist played the swaras and Krishna followed with the sahitya. Krishna’s superb breath control helped him sing most of the lyrics without inappropriate splitting of words.

He sprang another surprise with a niraval at ‘Omkara Bhanjana’. He concluded with Dikshitar’s nottuswaram.

The message seemed clear: “If you can cast aside the mind-set of a standard format for a concert, there is a lot of good music on offer from Krishna.”

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Printable version | Nov 30, 2020 8:32:53 PM |

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