Master musician breezes through a popular raga

Veritable treat: Mandolin U. Srinivas, right, performing in Madurai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: G. Moorthy

Rajalakshmi Padmanabhan

A showcase of his consummate skill

MADURAI: The next in line of top notch instrumentalists to regale the music lovers of Madurai at the 56th annual music festival of Sathguru Sangeetha Samajam was the illustrious mandolin maestro, U. Srinivas. His concert on Monday was a veritable treat and a showcase of his consummate skill. It began with a ‘varnam’ in Charukesi followed by Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Mooladara Moorthi’ in Hamsadwani.

Srinivas made light play of the popular raga and violinist V.V. Srinivasa Rao contrasted the mandolin’s high pitch with bass tones to produce a superb effect. Thiagaraja’s spirit of humility pervaded the hall as the musician began to play “Entharo mahanubavulu” in Sri ragam.

As Srinivas picked up the hand mike to announce the name of the next song, its composer and the raga in which it was sung, the audience waited eagerly to see how he would interpret that particular song in his inimitable style.

Though his selections were popular songs, he presented them innovatively. The alapana in Indolam, preceding Dikshidar’s Govardana giri, began at a leisurely pace, with short delicate brigas, picked up pace and evolved into imaginative tunes that exhibited Srinivas’s virtuosity in creating wide variation in tone, pitch and volume, using a simple instrument. The violonist’s alapana in kalyani was gentle and melodious.

The percussionists, B. Harikumar on the mridangam and S.V. Ramani on the gatam, supported the musician alternating between gentle taps and brisk finger work. They outdid themselves during the Thaniavardana and won the admiration of the audience.

One by one, all the gods were worshipped through melody as Srinivas invoked the blessings of Thiagaraja’s Rama, Ambujam Krishna’s ‘Guruvayurappa,’ Vaithiyanatha Iyer’s ‘Chandrasekara’ and ‘Arumugam’ from Tiruppugazh.

When he played ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai,’ in the vocal or Gayika method, it became obvious that there would be no ‘kurai’ in the world of Carnatic music so long as Srinivas, who began his career as an exuberant child prodigy, continues to remake himself and reinvent classical music through his dedicated sadhana on a tiny instrument such as the mandolin.

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