FRIDAY REVIEW

Superb performances at SICA fest

Aruna Sairam

Aruna Sairam  

THE SOUTH Indian Cultural Organisation (SICA) is synonymous with quality concerts and high calibre artistes. The annual festival draws not only its avowed music lovers but also a cosmopolitan crowd of all ages. And that is because there is a careful pick and presentation with universal appeal as the criterion. Music and dance find equal footage on the SICA stage. This time around, (45th annual fest) vocalists from varied schools of style - like Trichur Ramachandran, Aruna Sairam and Bombay Jayashree Ramnath regaled the audience with their special brand of singing, while Anita Ratnam and Rajeswari Sainath presented two thematic dance compositions making for a wholesome treat.

Trichur Ramachandran's style of rendition may not elicit unrestrained applause from the conventional audience as much as Aruna Sairam's Abhang-type singing would. Ramachandran, known to reflect his guru late GNB's baani, has a way of handling the rare and intricate kritis with supreme command over the medium. Right from his openings in Chakravakam "Vedavahim Vinayaka" in roopaka talam, it was clear that his was something more than the conventional way of singing. The kriti in Hamsadhwani Parvati patim was full of richness and the sangathees following the mitram were superb. The brief alapana to the Thyagaraja kriti is Panthuvarali (roopaka) "Ninne nera namminaanu raa O Raama" set the tone for a distinctive swarakalpanas, which are something to be marvelled at. The Tamil composition (GNB) in Bahudari was excellent in technique display and lyrical melody. His staying power is his forte. The violinist (M.A. Sundareswaran) was able to translate these subtle nuances with equal agility. Ramachandran's swarajati in Bhairavi, a Shyama Sastri composition "Kanchi Kamakshi Amba anudinamu" was captivating. The stylish drag while spelling out the swaram was singularly appealing. At certain points however, he had the tendency to just touch and never get involved. He paid tribute to his guru by singing "Ulahizhe gati enna," with rapturous devotion. The nuances of Madyamavati were explored and exhibited with authenticity. Umayalapuram Mali on the percussion, Sundareswaran on the violin and Gopalakrishnan on the ghatam complemented to the vocalist.

Aruna Sairam's evening of music enslaved her audience for two reasons; choice of popular and melodious ragas and rendering of bhajan-bhakti numbers towards the tail end of her concert. The trend these days even in the best of listeners is to appreciate short pieces of bhajan songs rather than sit through a two-hour performance of pure classic with all its techniques where alapana and raga delineation of one kriti might run close into an hour. The varnam in Abhogi - "Evvari bodhana vini" set the tone for a lovely kriti in "Jayantisri-Marugelaraa O Raghava." Aruna retained the lyrical beauty of this song by sticking to the content without any embellishments. "Nannu vidichi vellakura ramaiah raama " in Reetigowla was rendered with intensity especially the lines "Ninnu baasi ara nimushamu." The Papanasam Sivam's "Nambi kettavar" in Hindolam (Tamil) and the Dikshitar kriti in Kumudakriya -Arthanareeswaram, attained lofty heights in her impeccable handling. The mitram-agamaadi sannutham-- was a stupendous display of her .talent. A fairly long alapana led to the Bhairavi "Rama koluvai brova" was full of tonal variations with shades of the Abhang style peeping in occasionally. Despite a predominantly male tonal quality, Aruna was able to sway her audience into raptures with her `devotionals', which have of late become hot favourites with music lovers. Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan on the mridangam was in full control. Raghavendra Rao's dexterous replay of the swara was admirable.

Bombay Jayasree Ramnath's presentation was pulsating with life whatever be the kritis she chose for the occasion. She was her best in almost all the ragas she explored with her Khambhoji centrepiece "O Rangasayee" being the highlight of the evening. She gave a unique, melodic interpretation through her treatment of this raga with her expertise at neraval. The gamakas and the alliteration added lustre to the piece. The tani by the mridangam player (Poongulam Subramaniam) and the kanjira (Trivandrum Rajagopal) and later, the serve and volley was exciting to watch. The two kritis on Devi one in Ranjani `(Ranjani niranjani') and the other in Mayamalavagowla (`Maayateetha swaroopini') were lyrical gems. `Karunanidhiye Taye' in Bowli, `Chittamirangaada' in Sahana and the tillana in Bhagyashree were articulated in the most pleasing tones giving importance to the form and the frame. The Thyagaraja kriti in Darbar (`Mundu venuka irupakkala') was the only piece that defied clear diction. Violinist V.V.S. Murari was disappointing.

R.K

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