SRI THYAGARAJA'S songs are credited with intense emotional luxuriousness, but as they are heard rendered by musicians, they are at best just recitation completely drained of all succulent feelings. That was the impression that Raji Gopalakrishnan created in the Bahulapanchami concert under the auspices of Sri Tyagaraja Seva Samiti. The devotional scheme of the songs ``Muddumomu'' (Suryakantam), ``Aragimpave'' (Todi), and ``Raghupate- Rama'' (Sahana) was lost in the undisguised employment of frothy articulation. The trend generally in today's concerts is dilution of quality with ideals lost and competitive forces compelling.
The very concept of Bahulapanchami is that listeners expect to sense the precious sublimation of Sri Tyagaraja's songs. But Raji Gopalakrishnan's recital would have caused disillusionment in the minds of experienced rasikas.
With the Aarabhi Pancharatna ``Sadinchene,'' ``Raghuvara'' (Pantuvarali), ``Dwaitamu Sukama'' (Ritigowla) and ``Anupama Gunambudhi'' (Atana), the cutcheri could have been lifted to a high level but for the artificial softness of tone and business-like approach to raga alapanas of Todi and Ritigowla. The Ritigowla song, ``Dwaitamu Sukama,'' was fairly sensitive and aesthetic among the list of items. M. R. Gopinath, on the violin, was consistent, but not conspicuous by standards. Melakkaveri Balaji (mridangam) could extract some enthusiasm in his rhythmic contribution.
The performance of M. S. Sheela had much to do with the sleight of vocal softness, mechanical in technique, expressive without aesthetic depth. Creative inspiration was translated into seemingly effortless elaboration of Bilahari and Ritigowla but the characteristic flavours of the two ragas, which could enhance their delight somehow eluded Sheela. Technical correctness was emphasised more than passionate espousal of the beauties of the ragas. Her musical temperament seemed to put forth on tonal manipulation to feign subtleties and sensitivity. The recital seemed to suggest she was for too much wooing of the listeners by a veneer of artistry.
Being a full-length Tyagaraja session the kirtanas lent weight to the performance. ``Sobillu-Saptaswara'' (Jaganmohini), ``Emani-Pogadutura'' (Veeravasantam), ``Toli Janma'' (Bilahari), ``Bale-Balendu'' (Ritigowla), ``Kalaharana'' (Suddha Saveri) and ``Enta Muddo'' (Bindumalini) are good songs no doubt, but in a stretch for more than an hour the absence of ghana raga and a song made the cutcheri fragile. As was the vocalist, so was the violinist Usha Rajagopalan. Cutcheri dharma demands such following. It was the mridangist Melakkaveri Balaji who revelled with patterns of percussive vigour.
Subhashini Parthasarathy was over-modest in presenting her musical equipment. The motifs of her recital could be clearly seen as to avoid over-indulgence in any aspect - alapana, neraval or swaras. There was subdued refinement in the way she presented the kirtanas ``Tulasidala'' (Mayamalavagowla), ``Nijamarmamulanu'' (Umabharanam), ``Naradaguru'' (Dharbar) and ``Manasuswaadina'' (Sankarabharanam). The sancharas of Sankarabharanam flowed smoothly and appealing because it was not vitiated by intellectualism. The performance could not be termed to be very robust, but there was a sense of dignity in the rendering. Melakkaveri Thyagarajan was the violinist but his contribution was far from adequate. J. Balaji, the mridangist, embroidered the songs with percussive polish and his tani avartanam was tellingly precise and brief.
In the Sri Rama Navami series of Asthika Samaj, Thirupponthuruthi Venkatesan, accompanied by Durai Balasubramaniam (violin), Murugabhupathy (mridangam) and Ramakrishnan (ghatam) gave a concert, a sample of the old-worldly method of singing, that is not quite familiar to the ears of present day rasikas fed on vocal slickness. He sang ``Sri Raghukula'' (Hamsadwani), ``Endundi'' (Dharbar), ``Oka-Mata'' (Harikambhoji), ``Sri Pathe'' (Nagaswarali) and ``Raghuvara'' (Pantuvarali). Except Hamsadwani, all other items were preceded by raga alapanas.
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