MUSICSCAN M.V. Ramakrishnan

The Todi and the Tani

As they started their joint chitravina-violin recital in the Bharat Sangeet Utsav in the Narada Gana Sabha auditorium last week, Ravikiran and Lalgudi Krishnan explained that they would perform some spells separately and others together. Thus, while the outlines of the ragas Pantuvarali and Reetigowla were rendered as solo efforts by Krishnan and Ravikiran respectively in the preliminary numbers, the raga alapana of Thodi in the main number was rendered by both of them -- not one after another but simultaneously, each taking up alternate stretches of the melody, and together threading them into a beautiful string of twin-coloured gems. One could hardly notice Ravikiran's plucking the chitraveena's strings, and his velvet touch effectively matched the silky sound of Krishnan's violin.

The compositions in the above ragas were ‘Aparama Bhakti’ (Tyagaraja), ‘Janani Ninnuvina’ (Subbaraya Sastri), and Gajavadana (Kumara Yettendra). These and some other songs, and the improvised swara sequences following them, were performed together by the maestros. The percussion accompaniment was provided by Haridwaramangalam A.K. Palanivel on the tavil and Anantha R. Krishnan on the mridangam.

While the veteran tavil master toned down the sound of his instrument in an obvious attempt not to overpower the string instruments, the young mridangam-player seemed anxious to play rather forcefully. But they were well-matched in the 'tani avartanam' which followed the Thodi song, because Palanivel seemed liberated from his self-imposed restraint and went all out to display the vigorous sound of the tavil as well as his own amazing virtuosity.

The sequel was a half-hour-long percussion solo, beyond which the concert couldn't be continued because another event was to follow in the music festival. So Krishnan and Ravikiran couldn't resume the music after the tani and fulfil the great expectations created by their marvellous raga alapana in Thodi. How wonderful it would have been if there had been a ragamalika spell after the tani!

Mind you, I am not saying the tani wasn't marvellous too -- it certainly was. But one couldn't help being disappointed that what was expected to be an encounter between the chitraveena and the solo violin actually turned out to be a 'jugalbandi' between strings and percussion!


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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 9:30:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/m_v_ramakrishnan/the-todi-and-the-tani/article2615070.ece

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