Rare and grand

K.J. Yesudas. Photo: K. V. Srinivasan  

Is raga Kanakangi becoming popular? Artists are increasingly taking it up for elaborate treatment (and the very fact that they are able to do it counters the argument that vivadi ragas “do not give scope for elaboration.”) Veena artist B. Kannan played the raga last year; Sanjay Subrahmanian has sung it a few times recently. But one wonders whether any musician has given it the kind of Detailed treatment that Yesudas did on Monday last. What is more, the raga was taken up soon after the warm-up varnam (Begada), when one was least expecting it. It was a brilliant piece, in keeping with the artist’s calibre and stature.

Violinist Mahadeva Sarma brought forth his own essay admirably, following which Yesudas took up Tyagaraja’s ‘Sri Gananatham’ (which incidentally, is a composition that also has the word ‘guruguha’ in it.) There was no niraval, but swaras were aplenty - mostly nishadam-centric - landing on the pallavi line.

It was a stunning performance. Yesudas later told the audience that it took three years of practice (often cerebral) to get a grip over the raga. Launching into a speech, he posed a rhetoric: “They didn’t compose songs in these ragas for us not to sing, right?” Right.

Yesudas clearly favours rare ragas. After the Kanakangi came a delectable Gamakakriya - again a wholesome offer, with alapana, niraval and swaras. A bit of confusion here, because Yesudas announced the raga as Gamanashramam, and observed that Gamakakriya is another name of the same raga, but the two are different - Gamakakriya skips nishadam in the ascent, and is a derivative of Gamanashramam. Dikshitar’s Navaratnamalinim, which the singer took up, is a Gamakakriya piece. Technicalities apart, it was another gem by Yesudas.

A major part of the concert was devoted to Thodi. The way Yesudas opened the alapana, deep and sombre rising to the mid-octave notes, but diving back to the depths, created expectations of a great alapana - which it was, until the upper reaches. A quick sample of rasikas’ reaction revealed that the alapana lost steam after the upper notes. Not that it was not good, only it turned rather ordinary on the descent. Mahadeva Sarma’s violin follow-through was pleasing.

Tyagaraja’s delightful ‘Kaddanuvaariki’ followed, with niraval and swaras at ‘Baddu Tappaga.’ It was a nice experience on the whole, thought it fell a bit short of the expectations raised by the initial phase of the alapana.

K.V. Prasad on the mridangam and Tirupunithura Radhakrishnan on the ghatam, provided unobtrusive support.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:56:13 PM |

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