A collage of light and shade




A devotional music concert on the veena by Revathy Krishna was held on the inaugaral day of the annual music and dance festival of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. It was a select mix of Carnatic music kritis and devotion-oriented film hits from an earlier era, based purely on Carnatic ragas. Melody and dulcet notes were the decisive factors in the unfolding of the items. Her play integrating sound and sweetness produced a collage of light and shade in the minds of rasikas.

Of the items presented, "Sriman Narayana" in Bowli, an Annamacharya piece, and "Bhaja-Govindam" in ragamalika as rendered by M. S. Subbulakshmi (with the utmost fidelity) were outstanding for sensitivity, lyricism and aesthetic overtones. As for the film numbers, they created the impression that she was on a journey to capture the past in the veena format. The felicitous flavour in her technique was evident in all the items in the concert.

As the recital progressed, a thought crossed the mind. The highly hypocritical attitude in the music world is to claim divinity for the veena and make it an endangered and museum piece. The specious reason is veena concerts do not attract many rasikas. Because many do not visit the temple, can puja to the deity be stopped?

It is the long years of kutcheri experience that serves as a guidance to artistes. They often adopt methods they know for sure would go down well with the audience. Some ragas and alapanas have been rendered so many times in the past that it becomes child's play to present them. That was the impression that Bombay Sisters, Saroja and Lalita, created when they sang the Saraswati song "Mokshamu-Galada" and "Gnana Mosagaraadha."

Another aspect to their skill is the ease with which they maintain the tempo both in the alapana of Poorvikalyani and Todi (``Tarunamidu Daanamma"). The expressive possibilities of their voice had been well studied to influence their presentation marked by self-control. Their breezy interpretation of alapanas and songs was a blend of movement and rhythm within the prescribed traditional frontiers.

A collage of light and shade

In S. B. Ananta Padmanabhan's violin accompaniment there was smoothness and continuity and the vocalists' style seemed to be familiar terrain to him. Thanjavur Subramaniam's mridangam and H. Sivaramakrishnan's ghatam integrated well with the kutcheri tempo.

A rich, radiant and energetic voice was the mainstay of Sikkil Gurucharan to provide depth to his rendering. But this very valuable asset has to be tempered with refinement in the management of vocal articulation. With the tonal volume as an asset he can adopt gana-naya technique with great effect. This was evident in the way he sang the Saramati kirtana "Mokshamu-Galada" with not much of refined subtlety. He essayed Malayamarutham (``Hanumaane-inda") and Kalyani (``Talli-ninnu-nera") with uncanny instinct for life-giving sancharas.

The response by the violinist Akkarai Subhalakshmi was more mellowed and precise. A. S. Ranganathan, on the mridangam, enthusiastically contributed his share of percussive clarity to heighten the kutcheri.