Concert worth listening

AMONG THE younger generation of classical singers, some are potently in favour of making their concert more musical than gymnastic in nature. One such is Savitha Narasimhan, as she proved at the 12th Annual Festival of Hamsadhwani. With the commendable support of Charulatha Ramanujam on the violin and the young percussionist, R. Sankaranarayanan, she gave value for the 150 minutes she performed. Varnam (Kalyani, Ata); ``Sobillu" (Jaganmohini, Rupakam); and ``Ramabhakti" (Begada, Desadi) set the concert on a spongy coarse. Forty minutes later audience expectation had got tuned to receive the more leisurely and soulful ``Ksheera saagara sayee" (Poorvikalyani, Adi) with an `alapana'. ``Madhya Sthaayi Vistaram" (elaboration of the raga in the middle tonal scale) does not appear often these days.

Savitha emphasised this in her 10-minute preface in Todi to ``Emijeste nee Sreerama" (misrachapu) through very pleasant and profound interpretative `sancharas' with equally enjoyable kriti, neraval and swaras.

The RTP in Keeravani stood out for the Thanam of the violin. The pallavi was on `samam' in a double beat Adi charming melakarta ragas like `vanamurti' and `Rasikapriya' made their appearance in the `pallavi-kalpana swaras'.

Sankaranarayanan's 10-minute `tani', replete with rolling syllables moulded expertly into neat mirdanga phrases were a delight for the ear. A wholesome concert indeed which made one wonder why Savitha Narasimhan is not seen more often on music stages of other sabhas.

The tillana of Ravi Kiran (last piece) was a bit of a turn off, not because of any failing in rendition but only in the choice of the item itself. One fails to see how a slow and exquisite raga like Dvijavanti, meant to be savoured at leisure can be gobbled up through a rapid tillana. It is hard to find a place for novelty in art.

The majestic elephant doing antics on a three-legged stool can only make a circus audience gasp. It cannot hold a candle to the elephant on a royal procession, when it comes to grace.

It is not just one aspect that makes a music concert. One way of viewing an art production is from the standpoint of the composite impression it produces. Ashok Ramani's concert was rich with musical weight, evidenced in almost every number he sang — from the quiet start of the `varnam' in Saveri, the krti ``Jaya Jaya Jaya Janaki kanta" (Nattai, Adi); ``Nanu brova" (Abhogi, desadi); ``Sankari neeve" (Begada, Rupakam) — occupying the first half-hour of his 150-minute concert.

A notable feature of this young artiste's style of rendering `alapana' is to make the `raga' evident and strike the `jeeva svaras' and `jeeva sancharas' in the very first bar consisting of just one line. If the listener cannot identify the raga within this span, chances are that he is ignorant of its name, not because he has not been shown its name, not because he has not been shown its characteristic hue and vital statistics to whit — the `raga surya' — announced after the rendition in the `ragamalika kalpana swara' of the `Sarasaangi pallavi', — which this listener learnt (it goes like Hindolam, with the `ga' replaced by the higher `ga'). True, the Bhairavi alapana, in prelude to Dikshitar's ``Balagopala Paalaya... " lasting for 15 minutes, proved a strain for his vocal system.

The style was hampered by frequent pauses between all-too-brief passages; but astonishingly the listening was not tedious, thanks to the musical depth which compensated by masterfully reining in wandering attention... RRRTP (alapana thrice, before Tanam & pallavi) had Ashok and Mullaivasal Chandramouli on the violin alternating in tanam, the violin shone for its rhythmic bowing and matching finger work.

Pallavi was on a double-Adi, with a one-beat-lapse start, sans glamour. He is a perceptive and modest accompanist who can size up the strength and weakness of the lead artiste and play on, with the sole objective of augmenting the quality of the concert rather than projecting his own prowess. In this respect, Chandramouli and K. V. Prasad (mridangam) eminently distinguished themselves, lending sparkle to the concert.


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