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Music Season

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Of deviations and digressions


Three vidushis and three different approaches…

Photos: V. Ganesan

Clear diction: (From left) Bombay Jayashree Ramnath, Aruna Sairam and Sudha Ragunathan.

Accompanied by H.N. Bhaskar (violin), J. Vaidyanathan (mridangam) and S. Karthik (ghatam). After ‘Sarasiruhasana Priye’ (Nattai, Adi) of Puliyur Doraiswamy Iyer and Nee Bhajana Gana (Nayaki, Adi) composition of Tyagaraja, the first raga alapana of Jayasri was Bilahari. The song in the ragam was ‘Sri Balasubramanya’ the Misra Chapu Talam creation of Muthuswami Dikshitar. The ending words of the Pallavi of this piece were not clearly audible, trailing off as though the artist was mumbling, her memory fading. In the line, “Sri Chidananda Nada Varenya,” “Nada Varenya” were missing. After a few rounds of niraval in the Charanam at “Kanakavalli,” Jayashree shifted to the pallavi for kalpanaswaras.

‘Ganamurthe’ (Adi, Tyagaraja) came next. Kharaharapriya raga alapana led to the Rupaka talam piece of Tyagaraja, “Rama Nee Samana” with niraval and kalpanaswaras at the charanam line ‘Paluku Paluku.’ The sahityam of the second line of the charanam goes thus — “Loluku Mataladu, Sodarulu.” There was some deviation of the words here also.

Ranjani was the Pallavi ragam. The thanam contained two other ragams — Begada and Hindolam. These two featured in the ragamalika swaras. Other than Begada, there was no other rakthi ragam present in the recital. There are several to choose from but Jayashri’s focus turned northwards and the kutcheri slid into a semi-classical mode. A virutham in Behag, an Ashtapati and a Vaasanthi raga Thillana of Lalgudi Jayaraman made up the concert.

The Thani after the Pallavi was surprisingly brief. Surprising because, there was plenty of time. Vaidyanathan and Karthik finished off with a korvai together just lasting a couple of minutes. Bhaskar’s violin accompaniment was of a commendable order and his raga essays shone beautifully.

Jayashshri could do well to adopt open throated presentation. And she should pay more attention to sahitya clarity.

It was the Nattakurinji Adi tala varnam of Moolaiveetu Rangaswamy Nattuvanar that Aruna Sairam commenced her concert. H.N. Bhasker on the violin, J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and S. Karthik on the ghatam were on the stage with her as accompaniments. ‘Sri Malini’ in Poorna Shajam ragam, Adi talam of Tyagaraja, a less heard song was the next in line. A short sketch of Simhendramadyamam led to ‘Narahari,’ an Ambujam Krishna piece. In between this composition and ‘Meenakshi Memudam Dehi,’ the Purvikalyani kriti of Muthuswami Dikshitar, ‘Raghuveera Ranadheera,’ the Husseini composition of Tyagaraja was sandwiched. At this point the Rasikas expected an alapana of Purvikalyani but Aruna plunged into the kriti after singing a sloka in Purvikalyani on Meenakshi. No adornments of niraval and kalpanaswaras for this either.

The Thodi raga alapana and Tanam, main piece, were well presented with the violinist Bhaskaran’s version being effective and good. The Pallavi was set in Tisra Rupakam in Kanda Nadai. Aruna’s competence was in full bloom in Pallavi rendition. The words were ‘Tyagarajaya Namaste’ and included ‘Guruguhaya’ for Muthuswami Dikshitar and ‘Syama Krishna’ for Syama Sastri covering the Trinity.

There was a novelty in the presentation of the ragamalika swaras for the Pallavi. The swaras in the Ghana Panchaka ragas led to a line in the respective Pancharatna kriti of Tyagaraja. Similarly the Swaras in Khambodi led to ‘Sri Subramanyaya Namaste,’ Kalyani to the Navavarana Kriti ‘Kamalambam Bhajare,’ Brindavana Saranga to ‘Rangapura Vihara’ of Muthuswami Dikshitar. As for Syama Sastri the compositions touched after kalpanaswaras were, for Bhairavi the Kamakshi Swarajathi, for Saveri ‘Durusuga,’ and for Ahiri ‘Mayamma.’

All the kritis were skilfully woven into the pallavi, entertaining and educating the audience. Only in the process the focus on the Pallavi got blurred.

If the main purpose of rendition of a Pallavi is pushed to the background, students of music and young practitioners, who look up to seniors for guidance, might get confused.

The thani by Vaidyanathan and Karthik was laudable. The Padams and Javalis are disappearing from the concert platform. It would have been a rich experience for the rasika if Aruna had chosen to sing a Padam and Javali, learnt from Brinda.

The lighter pieces included an Abhang, Om Muruga (Shanmukhapriya) and Ennakavi Padinalum. The Daru varnam in the Raga Kamas, in Adi Talam of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar is an exquisite composition which brings out the various curves of the raga. It is full of “SWARAKSHARA” prayogas giving it an additional lilt. Sudha Ragunathan started her concert with this. Being a little long for a starter the right result could be achieved only with the right support of the accompanying artists, especially the percussionist. Her team was M.R. Gopinath on the violin, Trivarur Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and R. Raman on morsing. Sudha’s effort was good but it was doubtful whether the right momentum was achieved for the concert. Sudha’s voice appeared a little strained and the usual facility in the lower register was restricted. This acted to slow down the free flow of her manodharma. Her Sruti fidelity, however, was good.

The next choice of Sudha fell on the Abhogi Raga, Khanta Chapu Tala composition of Gowri Shankar Sthapathi and the kalpanaswaras for this was a trifle overdone. The Tyagaraja kriti in the ragam Veeravasantham, ‘Emanipokaduthura’ (Adi) came next and then the artiste chose the Kumudakriya raga Rupaka tala composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar, ‘Ardhanareeswaram.’ Sudha attempted a short sketch of Kumudakriya before the kirtana. A few rounds of kalpanaswaras were also tried at the point in the charanam line, “Kumudakriya.” It was apparent that the full import of Kumudakriya and the kriti had not soaked into Sudha as the presentation was tentative, lacking confidence. In most of the sancharas the Suddha Daivatha was a little elevated from its swarasthana.

It has become rare to find a Swati Tirunal composition in a concert. Sudha had included the Manirangu raga kriti in Adi Talam, ‘Jaya Jaya Padmanabha’ with a raga alapana and kalpanaswaras. ‘Malmaruga Shanmukha’ in Vasantha Ragam, Adi talam of Papanasam Sivan gave freshness to the concert. A Thodi raga Rupaka tala composition on Dharma Sastha of Maestro G N Balasubramaniam has gone into oblivion and Sudha revived it in this kutcheri studded with a raga alapana and kalpanaswaras. This was capped with a thani by Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan and Raman.

‘Om Namo Narayana’ (Karnaranjani, Khanda Chapu Talam. Ambujam Krishna) came after the Thodi fare. Ragam Tanam Pallavi was in Gowrimanohari. Just two other ragas were included in the swaraprasthara — Rasikapriya and Sindubhairavi.

The curtain came down with this Ulundurpet Narayana Kavi’s composition ‘Parkadal Alai Mele’ opening with the ragam Shanmukapriya was next. The lyrics spanned the “Dasavataram” and the other ragas were Kedaram, Sama, Atana, Mohanam, Bilahari, Kanada, Kapi and Vijayanagari.

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