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Friday, Dec 15, 2006

Music Season
The Chennai December Festival

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Music Season

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Full of lyrical beauty


T.M.Krishna focussed on karvais and ear-friendly slow, sensitive sancharas.

Photo: S.S. Kumar.

SRUTI-ALIGNED: Priya Sisters

T.M. Krishna, presented wholesome, enjoyable fare in his kutcheri. Vittal Ramamurthi on the violin and Tiruchi Harikumar on the mridangam provided able accompanying support.

The Saveri varnam in Adi talam set the tone and tenor for the evening's agenda in a positive fashion. Dikshitar's "Sri Saraswathi" in Arabhi with a short raga prelude and a composed kalapramanam was a well-defined aesthetic version.

The swara festoons for an atheetha eduppu were arresting efforts. The outstanding flow of sarva lagu sequences that hit the target with clinical precision, and the equally impressive forays on the violin were indeed praiseworthy.

The rakti of Anandabhairavi was highlighted with care by the vocalist, and it was heartening that he did not jump onto the bandwagon of speed and instead focussed more on karvais and ear-friendly slow, sensitive sancharas. Ramamurthi, Lalgudi's worthy sishya, in his reply, earned audience appreciation through a resounding applause.

Syama Sastri's "Marivere Gati" is a glittering gem in his repository, and the oral expression did full justice to the soul and substance of the kriti.

The appropriate tempo was balm to ears, tired of ritualistic frenzied displays that fail to internalise the lyrical beauty and are devoid of emotional content.

The charanam line, "Sukha Shyamala" was embellished with only madhyama swaraprastharas - reviving Semmangudi nostalgia - was thoughtful, as the fury in the faster passages might have marred the reposeful ambience. "Karuna Ela" in Varali was a clear stream of music eschewing the superfluous, and retaining the relevant. Khambodi was elaborated with purposeful deliberation concentrating on classical values more than the meaningless glitter and glamour of exhibitionism.

The adherence to sruti in the tara sthayi shadjam, the mellifluent prayogas threaded around the gandharam, the lightning brighas and the concluding phrases were indicative of sustained musical thought and untiring sadhakam.

The traditional, appealing, smooth raga suite on the violin, especially in the mantra sthayi, free of scratches and strident noises, was aurally gratifying. The tanam with the singer revealing an individualistic approach rated high on the scale of professional quality.

The pallavi, "Anandanatanam Aadinar Thathini Thadheem Ena Kanaka Sabhaiyil" is an age-old classic set in tisra triputa tala with a 1/4th eduppu. The imaginative neraval and swaras and the spick and span tri kala exercise were vintage Krishna. Ramamurthi, far from playing second fiddle, did what he had to do with abundant confidence, creating an enduring impression. Dhanyasi and Behag were the flowers that were strung in the ragamalika garland.

Tiruchi Harikumar's mridangam interlude had rich, rhythmic designs and nadai variations. It was capped by a sizzling laya finale that unerringly hit the target. The lighter section of the programme contained a javali, a Sanskrit sloka and was crowned by "Mamava Pattabhirama" in Manirangu.

The siblings, Haripriya and Shanmukhapriya, with the advantage of sruti-aligned facile voices have ensured a fan following of their own. Haripriya's Saveri, with effective tonal modulation and traditional pidis, was well worth listening to.

Tyagaraja's "Rama Bhana," not often heard on the present day kutcheri platform, was like a whiff of fresh air. The neraval and swaras by the duo were neat and tidy with the younger vocalist just a trifle more venturesome and authoritative. Violinist M.A.Krishnaswamy, with years of concert experience behind him, was quick in his felicitous repartees.

Shanmukhapriya painted a pretty portrait of Simhendramadhyamam, although there were tell tale signs of the margazhi syndrome. Perhaps, if the sruti had been slightly lower, the vocal chords would have been put to less strain. Nevertheless, it was a pleasing dissertation.

The violinist explored the raga in the characteristic Parur bani. Dikshitar's "Kamakshi Kama Koti Peeta Vaasini," and swaras finishing with a simple korvai in the charanam, had all the ingredients for echoing applause. Mohanam has always been a winner all the way, and Haripriya, conscious of the correct anuswarams, expanded the melody with grace and elegance.

T.M.Krishna (file photo).

Krishnaswami's alapana was well conceived, proceeding by stages and not merely an up and down exercise.

Tyagaraja in his "Mohana Rama" speaks of the unmatched beauty of the Lord and beseeches Him to talk to him in His dulcet voice. The singers' expression does them credit in terms of pronunciation and in conveying the emotional content of the sahitya.

Choosing the anupallavi line for neraval paid handsome dividends because of the appropriateness of the lyrics to invoke a mood of contemplation. The impromptu swaras in the two speeds, madhyama and dhurita, spoke well of the artistes' quest to raise their performance levels, time and again.

Satish Kumar (mridangam) and Madipakkam Murali (ghatam) not only played impressive supporting roles, but also exhibited total professionalism in their meticulous tani avartanam.

There are many rasikas who wait just for the light classical songs, and when the likes of Priya Sisters perform, the wait is well rewarded.

An Annamacharya composition in Hindolam, a Tamil song in Sindhubhairavi, another Annamayya devotional in Revati, and a Hamirkalyani piece were testament that vocal music is three dimensional that promptly hits a chord because of the power of the words that is reinforced with melody and lilting rhythm.

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Music Season

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