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Slender silhouettes of ragas

LALITHAA KRISHNAN

Gentle yet profound, the music of Prince Rama Varma proved a worthy listening experience.

Photo: S.S. Kumar

Hailing from a great lineage: Rama Varma

The Musiri Chamber Concerts added yet another feather to its cap by featuring the vocal recital of Prince Rama Varma, musician-musicologist-scholar of the Travancore Royal family. Hailing from the lineage of Swathi Tirunal, the artist is both an accomplished vocalist and vainika, having trained in vocal music under Vechoor Hariharasubramania Iyer and Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, and in veena under Trivandrum R. Venkatraman and K.S.Narayanaswami.

With the weighty seal of Pachimiriam Adiappayya’s Bhairavi Ata tala varnam ‘Viriboni’ set upon the commencement of the recital, the handling of the ragas and kritis that followed reflected a bhava-oriented approach. The measured gait of Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Ananda Natana Prakasam’ (Kedaram) emphasised sahitya bhava while the kalpanaswaras espoused aesthetics.

A sensitively nuanced ‘Evareni’ (Devamruthavarshini, Tyagaraja) preceded a minimalist sketch of Amruthavarshini, which traced a silhouette of the raga filled in with linear motifs, a swirl of jarus and medium-fast sancharas issuing from the tara sthayi shadja.

Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar’s ‘Sudhamayi’ worked swift magic, with the neraval at ‘Sarasijaakshi.’

The kalpanaswaras drew upon the raga’s reserves of vadi-samvadi permutations, the concluding round explored intriguing territory with manodharma that culminated in a rousing korvai. A Saveri that from the outset announced its intention of exploring swaroopa with serenity proceeded to do so in delicately crafted stages. The Swathi Tirunal kriti ‘Anjaneya Raghurama’ steeped in bhava, was an apt tribute to Musiri Subramanya Iyer who often rendered this composition. Swaraprasthara in two speeds saw the kizhkala swaras graced by apt poruttams.

Rendered with feeling

Episodes of meaningful pause lit up the melkala swara exchanges in which the mridangam was coaxed into repartee with voice and violin. Rendered with feeling, the cadences of Rageshri in M.D. Ramanathan’s ‘Sagara Sayana Vibho’ moved. An Annamacharya composition in Senchurutti soothed, and audience’s request yielded a rarely heard Swathi Tirunal padam ‘Kaanthanodu’ in Neelambari. M. Balamuralikrishna’s tillana in Kadanakuthuhalam replete with intricate turns and surprise twists brought the concert to a close on a sprightly note.

Brushed by the main artiste’s perception, Hemalatha’s strings responded in kind. The violinist etched a tranquil Saveri with mature phrasing. Srimushnam K. Raja Rao’s vallinam-mellinam chiaroscuro spoke the language of subtlety. The senior vidwan’s absorbing tani was marked by precision strokes that pulsed with energy.

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