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Tuesday, Dec 19, 2006

Music Season
The Chennai December Festival

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Music Season

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Melody and chaste diction


Sound craftsmanship, imagination and clear pronunciation made Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam's concert a success.

PHOTOS: N. Sridharan and R. Shivaji Rao

UNCONCEALED PASSION: Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam

Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam's uniquely appealing voice is just one of her many strengths as was borne out on Sunday last which incidentally saw two of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna's tillanas performed at the Music Academy.

Subramaniam's chaste diction in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Hindustani, sound craftsmanship and above all, an unconcealed passion to sing, could not have gone unnoticed.

As she gave rich expression to the nayaki's implorations to her beloved in the opening varnam ``Eraa naa pai," in Hanumatodi, Vijayalakshmi demonstrated that one must pronounce words to produce meaning and melody. She followed this up with a superb rendition of Purandaradasa - `Ravichandrabudha ninne rahu ketuvu ninne," in (Atana) which set the tempo.

Dikshitar's ``Srilakshmi Varaham" (Abogi) was a joyous delivery, as was Syama Sastri's `Purahara Jaye,' (Gowlipantu) where the vocalist put the seventh note to great effect.

In the imaginative exposition of Sankarabharanam, there was simply no room for staid and oft-repeated phrases, especially those in the higher octaves that have been in use for decades. That wasn't all. The kriti was from Tyagaraja's Kovur Pancharatnam series — `Sundaresvaruni joochi.' Taken up for neraval was the line that describes the small village (located near current-day Porur towards Poonamallee) in comparative terms with Varanasi itself. The ragam and tanam that featured Suryakantam, the 17th melakarta scale was no less enchanting. The pallavi `Karunaipuriyum deva paramesa kapaleesa eesa,' in kandanadai (Ranjani, Nattakuranji and Behag, Adi) was brought to a finish with elan.

Vijayalakshmi signed off for the afternoon with a brilliant improvised interpretation of Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna's magnificent tillana.

Anuradha Sridhar on the violin was highly competent while A.S.Ranganathan with the mridangam was supportive in a subdued manner.

Saralaya Sisters.

Saralaya Sisters Kavitha and Triveni from Bangalore gave a mixed picture of mellowness, which at times bordered on tentativeness, and sober melody. The momentum they developed in `Sarasiruhasanapriye,' of Puliyur Doraisami Iyer with a brisk swaram seemed to elude the sisters for a while thereafter. Tyagaraja's `Giripai nelakonna ramuni,' (Sahana) calls for no less than expressions of happiness. But the focus was more on ornamentation, which seemed disproportionate to the context.

Dikshitar's `Ramachandram bhavayami,' (Vasantha) was nicely presented, even as it gave a contrasting rhythmic feel from earlier numbers. Madhyamavati, the main piece in the recital, was neatly divided between the sisters. But more impressive was the neraval on `Neeke dayaputti brotuvo brovavo,' in the Tyagaraja song `Adigi sukhamulu.'

Among the lighter melodies, the Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna tillana in Brindavani was a refreshing change from the more routine `Jagadodharana' and `Maitreem bhajata.' Jayanthi Keshav on the violin and Ammangudi S. Ramanarayanan on the mridangam played useful supporting roles.

K. Bhaskaran's flute performance, the only feature on this instrument in the Academy's post-noon slot, was a melodious mix of slow alapana and racy phrases in kalpanaswara. The absence of the bass flute that one frequently hears nowadays was also noteworthy.


After the varnam in Saveri, where the main part was presented in three speeds, this disciple of veteran Mayavaram Saraswati Ammal, popularly known as pappa, took up Narayana Tirta's `Jeyajeyaswami' in Nattai. Bhaskaran's exposition of Reetigowla was prominent for the rare phrases (prayogam) he played in the course of `Janani ninnuvina.' Dikshitar's Kamalamba Navavarna kriti in Hanumatodi was given the additional flavour of sruti bedham.

T.K.Padmanabhan's violin support could have been better than it was, whereas Chidambaram S. Balashankar on the mridangam with B. Shree Sundar Kumar playing the kanjira were on the whole impressive.

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Music Season

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