Sweetly serenading the tonic

J.A. Jayanth at Mahodaya Hall on Monday. Photo: K. Pichumani

J.A. Jayanth at Mahodaya Hall on Monday. Photo: K. Pichumani   | Photo Credit: K_Pichumani

J.A. Jayanth, a recipient of this year’s Yuva Kala Bharati, is a promising young flautist. His recent concert for the Deiva Tamizh Isai Vizha at the Mahodaya Hall brought home the point that in flute music in particular, a warm and rich tone coupled with impeccable shruti shuddham leaves a lasting aural impression that transcends the specific fare of the day. Trained in the Mali lineage via his grandfather T.S. Sankaran, Jayanth’s formidable vidwat combines the secret of the sweet modulated blow with attractive elements of several other techniques and his own creativity.

The concert, earmarked as a presentation of Tamil kriti-s of the great composer Oottukadu Venkata Kavi, had a proportionate mix of reposeful raga bhava, youthful pyrotechnics and clever laya exercises executed with an excellent grip on the kalapramanam.

It began with ‘ Paal vadiyum mugam’ in Nattaikurinji, introduced by a brief alapana that lingered pleasingly a while in the lower sthayi. The brisk pace and the chittaiswaram-s were picked up right on cue by mridangam artiste Kumbakonam Swaminathan, whose exemplary accompaniment and total synergy with Jayanth elevated the concert with a great mridangam tone.

Alaipayude’ in Kanada was rendered with brief alapana-s by Jayanth and violinist Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan, whose unobtrusive accompaniment in this concert was marked by shruti shuddham, brief and creative alapana-s and intelligent replies during the swaraprasthara. This was followed by ‘ Kuzhal oodi manam’ in Kambhoji.

Simhendramadhyamam was taken up as the sub-main raga and Jayanth’s expansive alapana reached a defining moment when he brought out the special tonal effects associated with panchama and shadja varjya phrases. The kriti,Ashaindaadum’ was presented, culminating in brilliant and exciting swara exchanges in the khanda nadai between Jayanth and Vijayaraghavan, with Swaminathan playing an equally active role. This was followed by the Mohanam kritiSwagatam krishna’ by Ambujam Krishna, which had swaraprasthara-s ending in an interesting two-part korvai in tishra and chaturashra nadai-s.

Todi, one of the more challenging raga-s for the south Indian flute, flowed effortlessly from Jayanth’s nimble fingers during ‘ Taye yashoda’, the main piece. He was able to portray the contours of the raga in its key gamakam points, particularly with the gandhara. After the exchange of swaraprasthara at ‘ Kalinil chilambu’, Swaminathan played a short tani. The concert closed with ‘ Om namo narayana’ in Karnaranjani and ‘ Adadu ashangadu’ in Madhyamavati.

Jayanth would benefit from exposure to a wider repertoire of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi’s compositions. This concert stuck to the clichéd traditional fare associated with Venkata Kavi as a “minor” composer. Contemporary research into the composer has revealed an astonishing class and spectacular diversity in his output, both in Tamil and Sanskrit, which elevate him to a level on a par with the Trinity. A great number of these compositions have now gained primacy on the Carnatic concert stage.

(Uday Shankar is a biomedical design engineer; he can be reached at

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:18:11 PM |

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