A musical feast of talent and promise
The 16th edition of Sharada Cultural Trust's annual festival hit the right high notes with some brilliant and erudite performances.
TUNEFUL TEAM The Hyderabad Brothers
The one-week 16th Annual Cultural Festival of the Sharada Cultural Trust in Secunderabad showed the savvy way the women's organisation planned it. Without indulging on wasteful expenditure like shamiyana, buntings, garlands and furniture, the Trust managed to conduct the festival at Andavan Ashramam with minimum expenditure and yet make it a great success without roping in big names. The Trust did a smart thing by keeping an eye on promising artistes and steering clear of the more demanding and dominating performers.
The promising performers included Kanyakumari (violin), Mambalam Sisters, Balamuralikrishna, Sathur Sisters, Sanjay Subramainiam, M.S. Sheela, T.M. Krishna and Hyderabad Brothers - all vocalists.
On the inaugural day, Kanyakumari played solo violin accompanied by D.S.R. Murthy on the mridangam and Ramanamurthy on the ghatam. Kanyakumari, the violin whiz has decades of experience both as an accompanist and soloist, her association with MLV alone, lasting well over two decades. She has reached such accomplishment that her instrumental technique shows hardly any technical difficulty still to overcome. She can play about with such marvellous ease that they do not present any problem. The effortlessness and mastery, expressiveness and suppleness, elegance and repose are amazing.
Among a dozen items, which included Sriganapathini in sowrashtra, nada thanumanisam in Chittaranjani, the pancharathna Enduromahanubhavulu, she struck the chord in the item Bhvayami a Ragamalika. Her ingenuity showed up in plying briefly all the ragas built up in the song in the sequence - Saveri, Natakuranji, Dhanyasi, Mohana, Mukhari, Poorvikalyani and finally Madhyamavathi, and then playing the item in refinement. Sogasujudatharama in Kannadagowla, a composition of Dikshithar in Lalitha, Ee Vasudha in Sahana, Shanthamulekha in Sama, all carried the bhava in immense measure. The anticipation of Murthy and Somayajulu on the percussion was laudable. Muthy in tandem with Somayajulu enhanced the esteem of the concert.
The following day, Mambalam Sisters, Vijayalakshmi and Chitra shared in the duet vocal concert accompanied by the sister Hemalatha on the violin, Shivakumar on the violin and Rangachari on the kanjira.
The sisters evidently have put in enormous efforts in reaching the stage they are in and their concert indeed engages the attention of the audience. As it more often happens, it is relentless practice that restricts them to what has been learnt and the chances are, the original creativity in terms of manodharma takes a back seat.
In essence it is regurgitation of what has been learnt and nothing beyond that, although by itself it was chaste and traditional. A rare krithi, Inthathamasamaithe, was entertaining. With a special reference they rendered a ragamalika consisting of 26 ragas, all in about 12 minutes! In critical analysis, it was just a coinage of the names of the ragas and a passing image of the raga; nothing beyond that.
A Ragamalika must have a structure, an established construction, meaningful lyric and above, all grammar. It was a futile effort both in composition as well as rendition.
Balamuralikrishna (junior) is young, resourceful and ambitious. Choice selection and reasonably good rendering marked his concert. With a tendency to overdo in the disciplines of alapana and swarakalpana, he loses the proportion and the entire effort gets imbalanced. The concert started with saveri varnam and followed up by Siddhivinayakam in Shanmukhapriya. The presentation of the raga Varali was good but soon it lost the proportion resulting with repetitive brigas (fast phrases). Mokshamugalada in Saramathi was an emotional creation with right kala pramanam. He started well with the raga Shankarabharana but it got into an elaborate mess of pointless wanderings. The krithi, Endukupeddala was emotive and satisfying. The highlight of the concert was scholarly playing of mridangam. Komanduri Seshadri gave adequate support to the concert. All in all it was a good concert.
What Balamuralikrishna needs is guidance in the act of performance, essentially in building proper balance holistically.
Mastery of technique
It may not be an entertainment for a common and lay listener, lacking popular and thrilling episodes, but the concert of Sathur Sisters was a mastery of technique, a classic form of utterance, polished, placid and serene, dignified and graceful, festooned with melodious simplicity. It was unfortunate that one of the sisters, Lalitha developed sore throat and had to stop half way through. Left alone, Bhuvana had to work hard but played her cards exceptionally well. The items selected were uncommon but specially weighty, symbolising a classic array and elated by gracious scrutiny. The alapana of the ragas so selected followed a richly orthodox style embellished with appropriate gamakas and placid spuritham. Nothing went waste and nothing unwanted found a place. These features reflected well in the ragas, Kedaragowla, Manoranjani, Rishabhapriya, Karnatka Devagandhari and Kharahapriya. Initially Behag varnam led to Srimahaganapathi in Abhogi and later on to Deva deva in Poorvikalyani. Parakela, a rare krithi in Kedaragowla, was well appreciated. A composition of Dikshithar Gananayakam was referred to as rasikapriya (62 mela raga), but in truth, as enunciated by the composer it is Rudrapriya, also a mela raga. The raga delineations also corresponds to Rudrapriya. Kharaharapriya (Pakkalanilabadi) proved to be outstanding. B.S. Narayana played a couple of ragas like Kedaragowla and Kharaharapriya exceptionally well. Ramachandran on the mridangam was a little vociferous.
The concert of Hyderabad Brothers started with the usual thrill and the krithi, Manasukarugademi in Hamsadwani built up the pace immediately. The creative combinations in the swarakalpana mesmerised the listeners. Anandabhairavi (thyagaraja yoga vaibhavam), enthavedukondu raghava in Saraswathimanohari, Mummurthulu in Ataana, all added spiritualism and romanticism in great measure. Peri on the violin and DSR Murthy on the mridangam are too well used to the style of the Brothers and the overall picture of the concert was memorable.
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