Krishna Gana Sabha
Hamir Kalyani shines with tenderness
The Hyderabad Brothers.
VIJAY SIVA managed to maintain high standards at the Sri Krishna Gana Sabha despite falling a victim to the December throat. The singer could not vocalise with total freedom, particularly in the alapana. But he used his disciplined training, imagination and feeling, to make listeners forget the shortcoming. The high point came with a luminescent Hamir Kalyani that was as tender as it was strong. A classical ``Manamu leda" followed, without light swaras, excessive contouring, or other sentimental touches. Kalpana swara evoked the essence of the melody, flashing back and forth between the two madhyama anchors. The violin added to the enchantment.
Polished kriti rendition is Siva's forte, whether Tyagaraja, Dikshitar or Patnam Subramania Iyer. This established its own flow and grandeur, while allowing for depth in improvisations. He also knows the value of proportion.
The Syama kriti, ``Guruguhaya," had lilting swaras while the Asaveri song ``Saranam, saranam" revelled in niraval on the lyrical line ``virikadal vendan un tiruvadi adaindene." The prefacing alapana had combined the raga's characteristic poignancy and tranquillity. The singer was not at his vocal best in Kharaharapriya with the imposing ``Chakkani raja," the faster phrases could not be delivered with élan. But conceptualisation of the raga made it satisfactory. Begada decided to be sweet rather than profound. The short pallavi (``Ananda natanam adinar," Tisra Eka) was kept simple, avoiding elaborate techniques.
Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi was superb. She supported the vocalist with empathy, coming absolutely into her own in alapana, while still matching the style of the singer, trading swaras both ripe and exciting. Manoj Siva on the mridangam banked the kriti and the improvisations unobtrusively, and showed a quiet power in the tani.
Hide and seek
The Indian raga is not identifiable merely as scales and notes but in the way they are phrased, oscillated. A Veena Krishnamachariar could sing a Begada brimming with bhava, entirely without the nishada. But for listeners at the Sri Krishnagana Sabha, the Hyderabad brothers Seshachari and Raghavachari posed puzzles starting with the initial raga essay (Revagupti?Bhouli?) before ``Purushothamu," because the presence or absence of the nishada alone is not a determining factor in ragaswarupa. As the recital progressed, the brothers continued to demonstrate their skills in hiding the raga. Arabhi came in disguised as Durga - was it then Suddha Saveri? Listeners got distracted into examining the scales to unravel the mystery but gave up midway saying, ``The kriti will reveal all." Sure enough ``Nadasudharasambilanu" proclaimed its identity. The swara singing was full of repetitions by the singers and violinist (Mysore Manjunath), who underscored everything, leaving nothing to the imagination. The mridangam (Umayalpuram Sivaraman) provided virtuousic replays of the swaras.
Except in the lower sancharas Hamsanadam was syrup without substance.
Whatever gamaka possibilities it had were ironed out in straight notes, though the jaru was overdeployed. ``Banturiti" was adorned with some gorgeous moments of niraval before the main ragam, Chakravakam, appeared with a quirkiness that suggested Ahir Bhairav, Bindumalini and even Suryakantam, in a mode best suited to preface a khyal. What we got was a pallavi explicating the structure of the genre (Padalaya vinyasame pallavi, Chatusra Triputa) The swara singing again bypassed melody in chugging up and down the scale, some ending in concerted shrieks. Madhyamavati was a soothing sigh of relief (``Karpagame"). Listeners left the hall with questions: why should our vidwans distrust the Carnatic tradition so much as to resort to Hindustani inputs for glamour? Especially as they lose weight and depth in the process? But listeners also carried with them the entertaining exuberance of Umayalpuram Sivaraman, marked even in the entry after each alapana. Mridangam had a field day with playful sallies right through the concert. In the tani, the ghatam (V. Suresh), had ample scope to prove its mettle.
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