Feast of Hindusthani
THE VISWA KALA Sangama, which presented the Swami Haridas Sangeet Samaroh, a three- day Hindustani music festival, at the Narada Gana Sabha Mini hall, had many interesting concerts that not only provided a cross-section of artistes both from Chennai and outside but also underlined the enthusiasm and interest in such music from aficionados who came in large numbers.
The festival was inaugurated on December 20 by Ajoy Chakrabarty, on whom the organisers conferred the Voora Radhakrishna Murthy Award and the L. N. Mittal Puraskar. Dr Balamuralikrishna presided over the function. C. Ramachandran, General Manager, Indian Oil Corporation, was the chief guest. They also felicitated Vani Jayaram (who lit the kuthuvilaku) P. B. Srinivas, M.O. Srinivasan, and Pandit Krishnanand for their contributions to the field of music.
A rare sweetness of voice and a brilliance that is enhanced by an inherent feel for technique is Lakshmi Shankar.
Though well past 70, her voice still retains that resonance and flexibility which makes her such a celebrated vocalist- and her recital for this festival was remarkable in that its expressive phrasings were most pleasing even if tiredness crept in now and then. Beginning with raga Puriyadhanshree, Lakshmi's rich timbre of voice - unmarred by the tremulousness of age, was sweet and at the same time plaintive in its delineation. Holding on the `paa' - which turned out to be the resting note, she played hide and seek with `re' `dha' `ni' and left the raga, filled with a strange yearning.
The thumri that came next in Maaj Khamaj neend Na jaane more naina' took its own time to sweeten the mood of waiting. The romance of the raga took on a beseeching tone and the song resonated till the end when she finished with a gentle flourish. Unfortunately the bowing by the violinist was comparatively harsh for such a mild melody.
Pandit Janardhan Mitta.
But one supposes that it is difficult to find accompanying artists either on the harmonium or the sarangi, which is perhaps better, suited for such artistes, here in Chennai. Shailendra Mitta on the tabla was a bit intense in parts, but he softened his beats when it came to the crunch.
A bhajan in Charukesi, another very poignant raga, was preceded by a beautiful but brief alaap, which brought `tum sang kahe preet lagayee' simply, and without any gimmicky embellishments. Just short and sweet. Its spiritual content far exceeding the technical perfection.
Chennai-based Lakshmi Sriram, a student of Smt Madhubalachawla and the late Pandit Vasantrao Kulkarni of Mumbai has given many performances at Mumbai, Pune and Chennai. Several awards and scholarships to her credit, Lakshmi has developed a style of her own. Though rooted in the Gwalior gharana. Her specialty is the bhajan and thumri. In the highly expressive and ornamental thumri genre, the predominant motif is love, mystical love to be specific. Which came to fore in the thumri that stood out for its beauty and great play of many ragas Pilu, Manj for instance. ``Baithi soche brij suna lage mora dham, nahin ayyee ghan shyam, ghin ayee badariya" was a good example of how this genre allows the singer the freedom to introduce accidental notes and passages from other ragas. The lyrics in particular covered the philosophical yet physicals aspects of love for Krishna, who does not come even as the clouds and rains come so readily. In both the sthyai and antara portions, the notes slid harmoniously from one to the other making this piece extremely well-rendered. Lakshmi also delineated the raga Bheempalas in the beginning, the vilambit portion in ek taal, had the artist move slowly over the notes as the raga gradually unfolded.
Two bhajans proved to be simple but beautifully developed duns, the spiritual content conspicuous. The Meera bhajan - her own composition - was most marvellously rendered displaying a voice flexibility and sweetness that was rather mesmerising. Lakshmi was accompanied on the tabla by Shailendra Mishra and Veereshwar Madri on the violin. While the tabla accompaniment was unobtrusive, the violin produced several jarring moments.
Pandit Janardhan, trained by no less a person than Pandit Ravi Shankar, is the first musician to have performed at the Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival at Thiruvaiyaru in 1976. He is what you can call a gifted artiste who excels in quality and technical adeptness. Taking up Marwa, a dusk raga, which does not use the pancham, Janardhan began on a leisurely gait in an off-beat. The essay was lively and yet restrained so that the raga unfolding could not be missed. It gave way to bursts of fast paced tanaa - first short ones and then expanding in length and variety. The jhala movements were brief but arresting - his playing extremely reminiscent of the great master, from whom he has learnt.
Charukesi came up next. It is one of the most piercingly beautiful ragas with a quality that makes one a bit pensive and quiet. His embellishments of the melody were straight and progressive. They moved from patterns that were steady and memorable. The interplay between the tablist Shailendra Mishra (the best so far in all the concerts he has played) was most interesting. He offered Pandit Janardhan several challenging moments in the jhala portions. On the whole a very pleasing recital.
Send this article to Friends by