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Clear etching with restraint

S. Shrinavasan...displaying a sound style — Pic. by K. Gajendran.

THERE WERE just twenty listeners for the day's veena recital at the Narada Gana Sabha mini hall. A pity. With a single drum for support, S. Shrinivasan played in a sound style that I didn't notice the passage of time. The ragas, whether Begada or Bilahari, were etched clearly from the first phrase, and imbued with the restrained bhava of classicism. The kriti retained its shape in the respectful treatment. No gimmicks, nothing self-consciously trendy.

The best was the main piece starting with a fine alapana in Khambodi. The phrases were carefully chosen, rendered with gamakas aglow. This was followed by ``O Rangasayi''(Adi) in a pace that maintained the tautness without sacrificing grandeur, a feature noticeable in the swaras as well. But a certain restlessness overtook the artiste at times, not in adopting high speed, but in tumbling over phrases. This is probably the reason for the swarasthana slips here and there. In the alapanas there was some discontinuity in shaping the raga, largely because of the tendency to end phrases with abrupt cuts. S. Balashankar on the mridangam played a responsible role without overshadowing the strings, both in accompaniment and in the tani.

Elegant pattern

Gayatri Venkatraghavan's singing drew frequent cries of "Shabhash!'' from the packed venue. ``Sobhillu''(Jaganmohini) was rendered not as a mechanical warming up exercise as is too often done with opening numbers, but with total attention to its elegant patterning of sharp, sparkling swaras in the kriti as well as chitta swara.

The alapanas of Vachaspati (``Paratpara," Adi) and Kharaharapriya (``Samanamevaru," Rupakam) emphasised gamaka while admitting brigas in the right dosage and as suitable to the raga on hand. There were sruti aligned karvais, and generous use of the akaram technique. The former had more visranti than the latter which admitted more virtuosic elements. But nothing newfangled. The phrases carried the resonance of old usage. This could also be due to lack of stamina, obvious in long dwelt upper sancharas, while the mandara sthayi prayogas seemed to come up from a deep well. Anayampatti G. Venkatasubramaniam's violin was totally incompatible with the vocal style. Syama Sastri's melting "Nannu Brovarada'' came through like ``English notes". The mridangam did its job, and produced a tani of substance.

(The vocalist featured in these columns last week was Salem Gayathri and not Jayanthi Mohan as published.)


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