Singing with ease, clear diction
THE MUSIC of the NRIs has improved as was conclusively proved by Aparna Balaji, a daughter of O.S. Thiagarajan. She lived up to the lineage. Apparently, she has been practising quite hard in the U.S. where she is now living. Her resourceful programme consisted of kritis, both popular and less heard ones. The latter category included "Krupajudavamma" scripted by Ponnaiah Pillai in Anandabhairavi and Dikshitar's "Kamakshi Kamakoti" in Simhendramadhyamam, and "Palimpararathe" (Arabhi Pallavi Sesha Ayyar).
Aparna has a sweet and pliable voice. Sings with ease, confidence, and a clear diction. She was at her best when rendering the Khamboji alapana for Gopalakrishna Bharathi's immortal "Tiruvadisaranam." OST had regaled the audience with the same song last season.
With fervour and well chosen sangatis, she focused on the bhakti element with compassion. No wonder she received an ovation at the end of the recital. Aparna's other noteworthy songs were "Muruganin marupeyar Azhagu" (Behag - Guru Surajanandar), "Sarasassmadana" and "Seethamma" after an alapana in Vasantha.
Poorna Vaidyanathan (violin) and Erode Nagarajan (mridangam) gave good support.
If a section of genuine rasikas avoid saxophone recitals it is because of its association with the high decibel. Such an opinion was negated to a certain extent in Prasanth Radhakrishan's handling of the instrument.
It was sweet melody all the way. A.G.A. Gnanasundaram (violin) and Kalakkad Srinivasan (mridangam) were equally soft. The RTP in Dharmavati with the usual ragamalika swaras in Bowli, and Nalinikanthi was received well.
The alapana in Khamboji for Tyagaraja's "Yelarakrishna" matched. "Swaminatha" (Nattai), Rajaji's eternal ragamalika, "Kuraionru," and Purandharadasar's "Bhagya Lakshmi" (Madhyamavati) brought more kudos.
There was variety in Rajani Shridhar's recital. Well grounded under competent gurus, she sang with correct diction and displayed ability in dividing time. Enough gamakas, sangatis, swaras and choice of kritis helped sustain the tempo of the cutcheri. Opening with a rare varnam, "Vara Veena" (Kamalamanohari - Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar) she followed it up with the popular "Vatapi Ganapati" with stylised swaras, and rendered a soulful Mukhari alapana for Papanasam Sivan's "Sivakama Sundari." Patnam Subramania Iyer's "Marivere" in Shanmukhapriya (after alapana) was handled competently. Again the swaras were in right proportion. Tyagaraja's "Evarimata" (Khamboji), made popular perhaps through Ariakudi's gramophone record decades ago, was most welcome.
Violinist Suresh Babu was quite an equal in alapana, swara duels. P. K. Babu (mridangam) showed his laya prowess in the tani avartanam.
R. Sampat Kumar has a thick voice, hardly pliable and sang in chowka kalam. The rendering was listless though there was good vidwat. Syama Sastry's "Marivere gati" (Anandabhairavi), Dikshitar's "Sri Satyanarayan" (Shubapantuvarali) and "Anandanatamaduvar" (Purvikalyani - Nilakanta Sivan) deserve some mention.
In a meandering concert, Jayalakshmi Sekhar (violin) and Jayamangala Krishnamani (mridangam) came out in flying colours and in fact helped to inject some spirit. The pair deserved the approbation they received.
Going by her bio-data, Sinduri Shyam Sundar is just 15. Yet her performance would have made even a veteran proud. ``The girl is gifted and is sure to go far; needs watching,'' remarked a hardboiled rasika as the teenager rendered alapanas in Dharmavati, Bhairavi and Lalita. Her tight grip over tala exhibited rare manodharma. The swaras were not the usual rehearsed stuff.
Jayanth Balasubramaniam's laya prowess was in full flow in the avarthanam, with a melodic touch all over. Sandhya Srinath (violin) did her part well. Though stationed in Dubai, she has won local hearts as few NRIs have.
Scope and ability
None of the three songs, "Angayarkanniye" (Misra Shivaranjani - T.R. Subramaniam), "Varanamukha" (Hamsadhwani - Koteeswara Iyer) and Tyagaraja's only Dakka song, "Ragasasivadana," by Lalita Mohan (accompanied by S. P. Anantapadmanabhan on the violin and Arjun Ganesh on the mridangam) roused fire in the opening phase. Later, however, the vocalist improved by leaps and bounds as it were and the ovation she received for the concluding pieces, a Hamir Kalyani bhajan (Dayananda Saraswathi) and "Maitrim Bhajatha" was most inspiring. And she did well to conclude on a Meera bhajan sung by M.S.
The Kalyani alapana was noteworthy for several rare musical phrases and idioms. Lalita Mohan is on the upgrade and should persevere to reach the top rungs for which she has scope and ability.
The music had one pace, with not many speculative sangatis or swaras. Vatsala Sarathy, based in the U.S. learnt music from the disciples of MLV, KVN and Lalgudi Jayaraman. The confluence accounted for a pleasing recital.
Beginning with "Sri Mahaganapathi" (Gowlai), she rendered a flawless alapana in Darbar for Tyagaraja's "Yochana" with chic swaras.
The Kharaharapriya alapana was quite comprehensive and the song "Nadachi Nadachi" with swara at the pallavi came off well. The Oothukadu piece "Sonnadai kel kanna" in Pantuvarali had the usual lilt. "Rajivanetralaya" in Darbari Kannada gave spice. Then there were Subbaraya Sastry's "Sri Venkatasaila" in Hamir Kalyani, as also "Kantajudimi" after a crisp alapana in Vachaspati.
An improving Akkarai Swarnalatha (violin) continued to give good support. Manakkal Sriram's mridangam beats were quite telling.
The one commendable aspect in Australia-based Mohan Sridhar's music is that he does not muffle his voice. With a rich shariram pliable at all octaves, he reaches the highest and the lowest with absolute ease. His total involvement is another plus factor. After a step by step progress in Khamboji alapana, he chose Tyagaraja's "Maajanaki chetta battega" and began the neraval at the anupallavi, "Raja Rajavara... "
Doing full justice to the narration with raga-soaked sangatis, he continued with delectable swaras, short and long.
This part of the exercise over, he tarried a while to get the charanam lines. And when he concluded, he received a hearty encore.
Rasikas did not forget the quiet and subtle role of violinist Jayanti Keshav, raising a cheer for her also. Teenager B. Srivatsan (mridangist) was noteworthy. A disciple of Guruvayur Dorai, he has acquired his style. While playing a subtle role early on, he showed his mettle in the tani avarthanam with varied laya patterns and his teermanams at every round was applauded.
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