Pleasant musical ideas
ASHOK RAMANI, grandson of the great composer of the 20th century Papanasam Sivan, and son of Rukmani Ramani, recipient of the vaggeyakara award from the Music Academy this year, began his morning concert with the Begada varnam, "Intha Chala" set to Adi tala.
The accompanying artistes were Mysore Manjunath on the violin, Srimushnam Raja Rao on the mridangam and Sundar Kumar on the kanjira.
The artiste for some time now has had a heavy cross to bear the non-cooperation of a rebellious, recalcitrant voice. Still, fighting the odds with the intensity of a Robert Bruce, he managed to communicate his musical ideas fairly adequately. "Bala Ganapate," a song of Rukmani Ramani in Valaji with Sanskrit lyrics and a chittaswaram, was a pleasing composition. The swaras for the pallavi line were accurate rhythmic statements. The fast-paced "Nannubrova" in Abhogi by Tyagaraja with facile swara prastharas merited appreciation. The answering repartees on the violin with laya on a tight leash was indicative of the artiste's control of rhythm. The Poorvi Kalyani alapana with improvement in the vocal chords helping felicity of movement, and the clear faster prayogas, was imbued with form and content.
Manjunath ornated his raga development with prayogas slow, soft, smooth and steeped in the raga swaroopa. The influence of the Parur style of playing was obvious. "Dasarathathmajam," a kriti of Papanasam Sivan, was enjoyable despite the vagaries of the voice. The niraval and swaras in the charanam revealed a `do or die' spirit, earning the empathy of the rasikas.
The Karaharapriya elaboration sung with composure enabling the prayogas to emerge with clarity, provided enough quality listening time. It must be said to the singer's credit that his steely will and gritty determination to put his best foot forward, paid good dividends. The essay on the violin confirmed the veracity of the artiste's musical sensitivity and ability to translate his imagination into impressive presentation. "Rama Nee Yeda" in 2 kalai Adi talam, the competent expansion of the lyrics and kalpana swaras in two kalapramanams, the kuriappu in the dhaivatam, and the finishing korvai were harmonious efforts. Srimushnam Raja Rao navigating the percussion wheel with the ability of a seasoned seafarer presented a tani avartanam with Sundar Kumar on the kanjira who claimed attention, with a singular vitality and rhythmic precision.
Things to note
K.R. Saranathan's opening varnam "Viribhoni" in Bhairavi set to Adi Talam by Pachimiriam Adiyappaya, is an immortal masterpiece that clearly defines how the two dhaivatams should be correctly and judiciously employed. Semmangudi, K.V. Narayanaswami, T.N. Krishnan, Lalgudi Jayaraman and T.M. Thiagarajan among others have been meticulous in the proper usage of the suddha and chatursruti dhaivatams. Saranathan would do well to give some more attention to this aspect. Being a Tuesday, Dikshitar's "Angaraka masrayamyaham" sung with zest was included in the programme. Pantuvaralai was delineated in detail. The artiste needs to get his priorities right and concentrate more on akara oriented prayogas than phrasings with syllables such as "thara lalla lo" and "thanna na nana" frequently interrupting the smooth flow. M.A. Sundareswaran, chiselling each phrase of his alapana to perfection, was at his best. Tyagaraja's "Raghuvara" sung in assertive, even at times aggressive fashion, however went down well with the listeners.
The niraval is a genre that is meant to portray the lyrical allure and reflect the emotions of the composer. This musical form has to be handled with kid gloves since it should always indicate mellow artistry in whatever kalapramanam it is articulated. The swara passages were confident, while the divisions and sub-divisions and the korvai passed the test of rhythmic scrutiny. Dikshitar's "Santhana gopala Krishnan" in Khamas had the influence of the Madurai Mani Iyer bani and was a pleasant enough version. Why Valaji after Khamas is anybody's guess - the delineation of the raga exploring its full gamut made the grade, despite the singer's individualistic punch-laden musical expression. The violinist painted a raga portrait with an imaginative approach, exemplifying the spirit of the raga in all its grace.
Muthiah Bhagavatar's "Jalandhara," and the neraval for the sahitya "Bhavaroga nivarini" and the swara kalpanas were acceptable.
Balashankar on the mridangam and Tiruchi Murali on the ghatam tried to match the exuberance of the vidvan and succeeded partially. Sundareswaran ploughed a lonely furrow in the field of "Sukhabhavam."
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