Undisputed masters

Virtuoso musicians: N. Ravi Kiran and Sanjay Subrahmanyan. Photos: Bhagya Prakash K., Rajeev Bhatt

Virtuoso musicians: N. Ravi Kiran and Sanjay Subrahmanyan. Photos: Bhagya Prakash K., Rajeev Bhatt  

MUSIC Sanjay Subrahmanian and Ravi Kiran gave a brilliant start to the Sri Neelakanta Sivan Sangeetha Aradhana. S. Vinaya Kumar

E xpectations ran high among rasikas of Thiruvananthapuram as they awaited the longed for Chitra veena concert by N. Ravi Kiran slated for the second day of the annual Sri Neelakanta Sivan Sangeetha Aradhana.

The Aradhana festival had got off to a good start with a concert by the ever popular Sanjay Subrahmanian on August 1. Sanjay began with a varnam in raga Malavi. He exuded rich bhava in his presentation of ‘Raga Sudha Rasa' in Andholika, a brilliant piece of Tygaraja. He painted exuberant colours of the raga with his elaborate raga alapana. Next, he rendered ‘Kalangaathe Manamey,' a Tamil composition in raga Vardhini, a rare raga which had a flavour of Charukesi because of its arohana notes. Neelankanta Sivan's ‘Ananda Nadamaaduvar' followed. ‘Sankaraacharyam' in Sankarabharanam was the central piece of the day. It was composed by Subbarama Dikshitar, a disciple of Muthuswamy Dikshitar. The raga alapana, neraval and kalapana swaraprasthara rendered by Sanjay enhanced the aesthetics of the kriti.

In the post-tani session, the highlight was a ragamalika virutham in Sahana, Hindolam and Behag followed by a mellifluous ‘Kalpakambika.' He was accompanied by Nagai R. Muralidharan on the violin, Srimushnam Rajarao on the mridangam and Giridhar Uduppa on the ghatam.

Ravi Kiran's concert drew a smaller crowd but those who attended the concert were treated to classical music in its purest and most chaste form. It must be remarked in passing that Ravi Kiran is one of the few child prodigies who has lived up to his promise.

The Chitra veena, also called Gottuvadyam (literally “block instrument”) is a fretless, 21-stringed slide instrument of ancient origin, played by plucking the melody strings with the fingers of the right hand and sliding a cylindrical block made of some hard wood (usually ebony) or horn or more recently of Teflon over the main strings.

Exquisite clarity

The music produced is exquisite in clarity and tonal depth. Ravi Kiran demonstrated that he was the undisputed master of this delectably musical instrument.

He began the performance with a fine rendition of Neelakanta Sivan's ‘Sambho Mahadeva' in raga Bowli. In the course of the concert he went on to render kritis of Tyagaraja and Swati Tirunal too but the most memorable performance of the evening was that of the Papanasam Sivan composition ‘Kaa vaa vaa' in raga Varali. Ravi Kiran made magic here and his immaculate technique combined with an unswerving fidelity to sruti and laya, made it an experience to be treasured.

It was obvious too that the artiste had given some thought to the choice of the compositions for the concert, for Papanasam Sivan, as everyone knows was inspired and influenced by Neelakanta Sivan. The moving exposition of Varali was followed by a shorter rendering of Neelakanta Sivan's ‘Enraiku Siva Kripai varumo' in Mukhari, and Swati's ‘Vande sada Padmanabham' in raga Navarasa Kannada. The main raga chosen for the day was, appropriately enough the rakti raga Thodi, and the artiste elaborated on a pallavi with the phrase ‘Neelakanta Sivam gaanalolam vandeham,' composed ex tempore by himself.

He was ably accompanied by Trivandrum Sampath on the violin, J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Trivandrum Karthikeyan on the ghatam. The violinist did a fine job and was visibly encouraged by the senior artistes on the stage.

Throughout the evening, the musician's modest affable demeanour was very much in evidence. He took the audience into his confidence and chatted with them in a friendly vein. Ravi Kiran, in short, was brilliant even beyond the expectation of those who came to listen to him.

With inputs from

V. Rajagopal

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