Clear diction, emotionally appealing
S. VEERARAGHAVAN'S scintillating performance for Bharath Kalachar on Saturday last was marked by clarity of diction and a strong emotional appeal. The one theme running through most of the performance was the glory of music. A disciple of the renowned Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, the kutcheri bore the imprints of the guru and the disciple's own individuality.
The opening piece was the Gambheeranattai padavarnam, a grand creation of Balamuralikrishna. A tribute to the power of nadam, svaram and layam, the composition, similar to the other thana varnam in Shanmukhapriya, is now popular among younger musicians. The famous invocation of Thyagaraja to Lord Ganapathi in Saurashtram gave a glimpse of Veeraraghavan's vocal prowess.
``Jagadanandakaraka," the first of the Pancharathna kritis in Natta featured next. Veeraraghavan's skilful play on the opening line to emphasise the meaning of jagat ananda karaka was well received.
``Nadasudharasambilanu" in Arabhi and Majanaki in Kambhoji were easily the most outstanding pieces in the concert. Embellished with elaborate alapana and kalpana svaram, they displayed the melodic beauty of the ragas and the artiste's virtuosity.
V. Suresh Babu played exquisite phrases on the violin. Madipakkam Suresh on the mridangam and Madipakkam Murali on the ghatam enthralled the audience with a brief but brilliant thani avarthanam.
The Narayana Theertha composition in Hindolam and the rendition to Lord Ayyapa Struck a deep chord with the audience.
Abishek Raghuram, barely 19, and pursuing graduate studies at a city college, exudes confidence when singing intricate svaram in Karaharapriya or Panthuvarali. You could easily mistake this young man for a seasoned artist.
A disciple of P. S. Narayanaswami and grandson of the famous mridangam exponent, Palakkad Raghu, Abishek got off to a brisk start with the Mohana varnam and Thyagaraja's ``Krupa joochutaku velara rama." ``Appa Rama bhakti yentho goppara," another Thyagaraja gem, calls for a nuanced delivery of the many attributes of devotion to Rama. Unfortunately, Abishek did not capture the spirit of this song adequately. Perhaps this was on account of his youthful exuberance or unfamiliarity with the intricacies of language. But he more than made up for this lacuna with a brilliant alapana and svara prastharam. Neraval singing can be especially appealing if the chosen strain dwells on the main theme.
A line from the charanam, rather than the anupallavi, would have been more apt in the Karaharapriya song ``Nadachi nadachi joocheru."
Mysore Srikanth on the violin and Neyveli Narayanan on the mridangam provided impressive support to the vocalist.
How does one explain this proficiency of talent in the likes of Abishek? Lineage is undeniably a key factor. Equally important is the fact that, upcoming musicians have ready access to an abundance of recordings right from their childhood. In stark contrast, a GNB or Ariyakkudi were among the first to record at a studio a repertoire that was by and large handed down orally. Obviously this talented youngster has a great future ahead.
Reminiscent of Mali
A seasoned performer attaches the highest importance to the smallest detail of the performance. On Sunday, the little master on the flute, S. Sashank welcomed his audience and introduced the accompanying artists Mysore Manjunath on the violin, Mannargudi A. Eswaran on the mridangam and Thirupunithura Radhakrishna on the ghatam and Govindaprasad on the morsing. This may be somewhat unusual in a kutcheri. But such gestures will no doubt bring rich dividends in the long term. After observing these niceties, Sashank was completely immersed in his music for the next two hours.
His opening piece was a varnam in Darbar, played in the madhyama and dhurita kalam. The Lathangi kriti ``Aparadhamula" was brilliantly ornated with alapana and svaram.
He introduced the bass flute selectively for effects and his short halting phrases were reminiscent of the inimitable T. R. Mahalingam. ``Janani," the Reethigowla kriti of Subbaraya Sastri, seems to be heard all too frequently in recent times. It was somewhat tedious listening to it yet again.
The main ragams of the evening were Lalitha and Dharmavathi. Sashank's command over the three octaves and remarkable breath control were in sharp focus in the rendition of the thanam. The violinist improvised phrases, which sounded like a western symphony. Listeners can look forward to more performances by Shashank in the current season.
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