Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha
Sung on serene lines
IF CONCERT planning is a test, Lakshmi Rangarajan came out successful. She chose Anandabhairavi (Mariveregati of Syama Sastry), Vachaspathi (Parathpara of Sivan), Vasantha (Maragathalingam of Dikshitar), Mohanam (Jagadeeswari Kripaipuria) and Keeravani (Kaligiyunte of Thyagara). She began her concert with ``Evari Bodana" (Varnam in Abogi) and moved on to ``Thulasidalamula" (Mayamalava gowlai). Lakshmi's alapana of Mohanam had the richness of sancharas and the strong points of Keeravani raga emerged in her aesthetic sancharas. Her Tulsidas bhajan Aaye Giridar Dwar was pleasing. Lakshmi Rangarajan had Kalyani Shankar for violin and she was very co-operative; so also Melakaveri Balaji on mridanga.
Two-in-one mridanga maestro Tiruchi Sankaran comes to Chennai once a year, but he ensures that what he plays for one season here is remembered by the rasikas, till the onset of another season. It is difficult to say whether he accompanied Neyveli Santhanagopalan or Santhanagopalan accompanied Sankaran. Virtually Sankaran's mridanga sang along with the main performer, not to speak of a unique Tani. The `naadham' of the instrument was so soothing, at the hands of Sankaran.
If the violinist is not competent, it is extremely difficult these days, to accompany Neyveli Santhanagopalan, who has problem in reaching higher octave. Added to this, Santhanagopalan's raga alapanas have taken the form of a meditative expression and many a time, there is a pause between sancharas. Only an alert violinist could fill the gap and Vittal Ramamurthy ably compensated the deficiency of the vocalist, especially while playing Todi and the Dwijawanti rangam-tanam-pallavi. Vittal Ramamurthy almost mesmerised the listeners with attractive lines.
Santhanagopalan is conscious of his voice-constraint very much, and the way he manipulated his thin voice for the alapana and sancharas was praise worthy. He sang Todi with a lot of pauses in between for the Dikshitar kriti Srikrishnam Bhaja Manasa, in a manner that was appealing. He sang ``Sadinchane" (Arabi), ``Ka Va Va" (Varali), ``Anandamritakarshini" (Amrithavarshini), ``Sarasa Sama Dhana" (Kapinarayani), but every kriti was a treat. His concluding pieces Nirupamanasami (Behag) and Rama Mantra Japiso (Jaunpuri) came as a fitting finale to a totally satisfying concert. There was no aggressiveness, no raising of the volume of the mike and consequently the whole atmosphere was serene and the vocalist abundantly offered the feeling of `sukham' or `sowkyam' one rarely gets in concerts these days.
One-upmanship? No doubt. `Guru' Karaikudi Mani is a senior mridanga vidwan and a most distinguished artiste of our times. However, the `Guru' seemed a bit indifferent while playing for the kritis, in the concert of Hyderabad Bros.
It looked as if he did not take it seriously to accompany when the Bros. sang or perhaps felt that it was enough to show his prowess during the Tani.
He was keenly meddling with the mridanga for some time. Then changed it for a second one, when two of his sishyas and a mridanga - repairer sitting behind him, offered it. Not satisfied with that instrument too, he started loosening and tightening the straps, unmindful of a concert taking place right under his very nose. Relaxing, he asked for coffee, drank it when it came, leisurely, when Ragavachari was singing the kriti ``Devi Brova Samayamithe." Despite these tantrums, the Hyderabad Bros. sang vibrantly.
Their alapana of Ramapriya for ``Korinavaramu" was so delightful that Delhi Sundararajan on violin, equally inspired, presented his version splendidly.
Sankarabarana alapana for ``Enduku Peddala" was also marked for richness in sanchara. Before the Tani, the Bros. sang Haridasulu Vedale (Yamunakalyani).
Luckily, while on Tani `Guru' Karaikudi Mani had no problem at all with his instrument and what followed was a thunderous Tani Avartanam. As if possessed, the `Guru' gave a power-packed display full of imaginative korvais. The young Kanjira player B.S. Purushothaman, rose to the occasion and acquired applause from audience.
Sriram Gangadaran's performance was marked by a kind of aggressiveness of voice and breakneck speed in rendering kritis. His manodharma while essaying the alapanas too, was sometimes wild and at times, mild. If only he had employed madhyamakala format, his Mohana raga kriti - ``Srirama Ramani" - and swarakalpanas for the same would have been enjoyable. Ditto, his Hindolam song, ``Ma Ramanan." The only redeeming feature in the concert was the violin by H.N. Bhasker. After RTP `Neeraja Dhala Netra', there was a short Tani by N. Ramakrishnan on mridangam and S. Sethuraman on Kanjira.
Playing to the gallery Aruna Sayeeram's programme format had two sessions, the second part is devoted to lighter classical, folk, abhang bhajans, tillana, etc., besides listener's choice. She had audience who were overflowing on the wings and even extending beyond it, for whom a closed circuit TV was installed.
Such is the fan following of Aruna, these days. Of course, she respects her audience whenever they ask her to sing a favourite of the rasika, but if the time is short, assures the rasika politely that she would sing in the next concert.
After Shankukhapriya raga alapana for ragam-tanam-pallavi (`Velai Pidippathe En Velai'), a brief Tani followed with Ganapathiraman on the mridangam and R.
Raman on morsing. Aruna sang ``Ranga Baro," then a Namdev abhang in Sivaranjani, followed by Bharatiyar's Suttum Vizhi Chudarthan. There was a request for Malhari Kanada on Vinayak, a foot-tapping piece with audience joining her in rhythmic beats for the lines `Ganapathi Bapa Moriya'. (Next time around, Aruna may perhaps bring cymbals so that the Namasankeertanam would be complete'). Madurai Somu's favourite `Enna Kavi Padinalum' was a listener's choice and Aruna readily obliged.
The virutham ``Kanthimathiammai Pillai Tamizh" was moving. In the former session, her selection of songs were Srivignarajam Baje (Gambira Nattai), Aadiya Paatha Dharisanam Kandal (Durbar), Nannu Vidachi (Ritigowlai), Dunmarga Chara preceded by a neat alapana of Ranjani, Kanakasaila (Punnagavarali), Kalyanarama (Hamsanadam) and Kaividamattan (Valaji). All these were treated according to their merit and Aruna did not dilute them in any way.
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