Chennai and Tamil Nadu
Linked by strands of empathy
Zest powered TVG’s renditions, familiar strains enlivened by unusual touches.
Creative vision: T. V. Gopalakrishnan.
To hold a shard of Mohenjodaro pottery in your palm is to experience a tangible link with the past. To be alive to the jolt of recognition that signals a connection with the minds and lives that shaped an ancient ethos. An ethos that evolved down the
centuries to embrace the arts, visual and performing, that we claim as our cultural legacy.
In Indian classical music, this instinctive response to the wisdom and craft of past generations becomes a heightened experience when strands of empathy link the artist and the rasika. When this occurs, receptivity peaks and the rasika’s mind opens up to welcome cherished ideals of the artist’s creative vision.
To empathise with T.V.Gopalakrishnan’s music is to recognise that this vidwan’s musical expression is in the nature of a heartfelt homage to the mahavidwans of yesteryear. This empathy also brings with it the realisation that the artist, over an eventful 75-year span, has retained, quite amazingly, a child’s joy of discovery as well as the need to share the wonder of the moment. Accompanied by senior vidwan and brother T.V.Vasan (mridangam) and in-demand disciples Varadarajan (violin) and Tripunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam), TVG’s vocal concert at Hamsadhwani was a home production that radiated warmth, encouraging listeners to step right into the artists’ world.
The judicious mix of familiar and rarely heard kritis, the one-off kalpanaswaras that opted for economy over extravagance, the focus on tonal aesthetics, the measured alapanas fortified by core pidis — all these proclaimed an artist with formidable credentials who believes in frescoing his own definition of zeitgeist, and a refreshing one at that.
Zest powered the renditions, beginning with Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Vatapi Ganapathim’ (Hamsadhwani) where familiar strains were enlivened by unusual touches. The leisurely ambit of sangatis, niraval and kalpanaswaras in Tyagaraja’s ‘Merusamana’ (Mayamalavagowla) posed an effective contrast to the ebullient ‘Sri Balasubramanya’ (Bilahari, Muthuswami Dikshitar).
Two reclusive Tyagaraja kritis made a rare appearance. In ‘Varasikhivahana’ (Supradeepam) prefaced by a raga sketch, form and flavour converged in insidious glides, while the resonant mandrasthayi articulation in ‘Nannu Kannathalli’ (Sindhu Kannada) was irrefutable proof of saarira samskaram, internalised.
The Pantuvarali alapana, with a clutch of vigorous medium-fast sancharas issuing from the tara sthayi shadja was a perfect complement to the free-flowing lyric of the Lingappa Naidu composition, ‘Unnai Allaal.’
In the swara segment, TVG served a series of straight aces in a single round of one-avartana kalpanaswaras at multiple eduppus. Varadarajan, though taken by surprise, rallied swiftly to respond with spirited volleys.
The elegant narrative of the Natakurinji essay found the artist in his element, as fluid prayogas and tradition-bound pidis culminated in an impressive three-octave-spanning sweep encompassing the mandrasthayi shadja and ati tara sthayi shadja, effortlessly woven into the raga fabric. Syama Sastri’s weighty ‘Mayamma’ with swarakshara ornamentation called for and got reverential treatment, followed by the organic structuring of niraval and swaras.
Post-thani, a serene Dwijavanthi monograph came as unexpected bonus along with ‘Chetaswi’ (Muthuswami Dikshitar). A deeply felt ‘Paripaalaya Ragunatha’ (Ritigowla) and the poignancy of a Misra Pilu bhajan moved. The concluding item, a breezy Kadanakuthuhalam thillana was TVG’s own composition, as was a Sanskrit kriti, ‘Mahalakshmi Namosthuthe’ sung earlier.
Spurred on by TVG’s generously expressed appreciation, the accompanists worked as a seamless team. Varadarajan’s stock soared in his Nattakurinji exposition marked by clarity and perception. Dwijavanthi too, had its moments.
For the excellent audience turnout accustomed to T.V.Vasan’s dexterous play on the ghatam, it was an added pleasure to encounter the artiste’s expertise on the mridangam, which in conjunction with Tripunitura Radhakrishnan’s savvy strokes on the ghatam, contributed to a thani amalgamating intellectual and aesthetic tenets.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu