Competent, not composed
Lalitha and Haripriya ... relentless pressure.
IN THIS year's December music festival some sabhas have given opportunities to Isai Mazhalai group of Ramji who has taken on hand the popularisation of Carnatic music among the young. At a higher level, Sulochana Pattabhiraman has groomed a team of young boys and girls whose rendering of Sri Tyagaraja's pancharatnas has gained public acclaim. These commendable efforts serve to ensure a stream of successive generation of young competent musicians. This is only one aspect of the preservation of Carnatic music. But the dark side is the total absence of youngsters in Carnatic music concerts.
Before dealing with the latter problem, the essential initiative has to be the collection of reliable data from school and college students on why they are averse to listening to Carnatic music. What are the inhibiting factors that keep them away? Pump-priming interest is an uphill task. For, let alone Carnatic music, every ennobling value contributing to life's refinement, is struggling to survive in the overwhelming environment of revolutionary lifestyle.
Like everything about us has become mechanical, it is very pronounced in the Carnatic music concerts. Tempo, mounting unrestrained sangatis to every kriti rehearsed, wearisome kanakku-laden swaraprastharas and sancharas in raga alapanas nineteen to a dozen are the devices at the hands of musicians senior, junior and even sub-junior to regale the listeners. In this overall music culture, to say which is good and which one is not-so-good has absolutely no meaning.
Carnatic music since the days of the Trinity has passed through veneration of composers to upholding of vidwat by past veterans and now it is unbridled velocity.
In this genre was the performance of Hyderabad Sisters Lalita and Haripriya in the Krishna Gana Sabha series. Competence was there in every syllable they presented, but alas composure was absent. The Gambira Nattai song of Vasudevachar, "Girija Ramana" set the pace for the whole concert and between them they saw to it that from the time they opened up their voice for every alapana, swaras and songs, pressure was not relaxed at any cost. Going by today's appreciative standards and expectation their concert has to be termed successful. "Emani Pogaduduraa" (Veera Vasantam), "Ne Jesina" (Poornachandrika, a song by Patnam Subramania Iyer) and "Chedi Poge" (Lalita, a kriti of Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavathar) flashed through.
Pantuvarali and Devegandhari were the early alapana effort, the kritis being "Sankri Ninne" and "Kshitija Ramanam." Are swarams needed for Devagandhari? Karaharapriya ("Chakaani Rajamarga") was the main alapana effort by Lalita with repetitive sancharas. The neraval portion for the Pantuvarali kriti was not allowed to come down from the tara sthayi.
Violinist Sandhya Srinath's solo alapana lines of Pantuvarali and Devagandhari were pretty and the presentation of Karaharapriya was sweet, speedy and sensitive. She has an instinctive musical sense. Thanjavur Ramadas (mridangam) and Adambakkam Shankar (ghatam) were non-interferingly supportive.
Sankaran Namboodri has a powerful voice, but the penchant for speed paralysed the faculty of moderation. When such a vocally gifted musician fails to realise the hairline distinction between shouting and subtlety of articulation, it becomes just exhibitionism. That was the pitfall in Sankaran Namboodri's concert. This found major outlet in his alapana and swaraprastharas for the Mohanam kirtana, "Ra Ra Rajivalochana."
The same raw treatment was given to "Sadinchane" (Aarabhi) "Santana Gopala Krishnam" (Kamas). M. R. Gopinath, while reflecting the musician's inclination, laced his versions with melodic phrasings. K. V. Prasad (mridangam) is a devotee of free rhythmic flow with gentleness of beats. Set against the loudness of the vocalist's exposition, Prasad's percussive padding was soothing to the ear. With Vaikom Gopalakrishnan (ghatam) the tani avartanam sparkled with laya lure.
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