Nungambakkam Cultural Academy
Sonorous voice, mundane alapana
CAN A sonorous soprano voice, a routine alapana and extended swaras constitute a good and quality concert? Perhaps yes, superficially.
But factually, the inadequacies are glaring; unbridled leash of high pitch voice turns grating; routine alapana without soul is less inspiring; mundane extension of swaras induces yawn. This is what a discerning listener would have experienced in S. Mahati's concert for Nungamabakkam Cultural Academy.
It seemed Mahati's goals are set elsewhere like film music, for which her voice may suit perfectly. The exposition she did for Poorvikalyani ("Ananda Nadamaduvar'' by Neelakanta Sivan) and the later Sankarabharanam ("Entuku Beddala'' by Thyagaraja) were shallow, notwithstanding some notable flashes of ingenuity and brilliance here and there.
The heavy weight Sankarabharanam kriti was rounded off in just twelve minutes because of her poor time management.
Earlier, she treated the audience with the less-frequent "Shakti Ganapathim Bhajeham'' in Nattai and "Vanjathonuna'' in Karnaranjani, both by Muthiah Bhagavathar. These and the starting "Chalamela'' (Darbar varnam) provided the necessary briskness and brightness.
Krishna Subramanyam and P. K. Babu on the violin and mridangam respectively were her tame accompanists.
Pushpa Anand is comparatively a better singer with more balanced and planned approach to the concert platform. Starting her concert with Vasanta varnam, Pushpa chose to sing "Deva Deva Kalyani'' (Mayamalavagowla by Swati Tirunal), "Dinamani Vamsa'' (Harikambodi by Tyagaraja), "Pahimam Parvathi'' (Mohanam by Dikshitar), "Kamala Charane'' (Amrita Behag by GNB) and "Innamum Sandeha Padalamo'' (Keeravani by Gopalakrishna Bharati).
Pushpa treaded a definite, appreciable path of alapana for Mohanam and Keeravani but it was replete with repetitive passages. Her swara exercises were unfortunately meaningless meandering matrices. Nevertheless, Keeravani was handled to a major extent with professional poise. Perhaps she could do some analysis of her alapana and swara methodology and exercise some control. Neela Jayakumar on the violin executed better and compact versions of the main ragas chosen, while Jayakumar was supportive on the mridangam.
Discipline and melody seem to be the prime concern for Lalgudi Parampara.
Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi have gone through this rigorously and also have successfully inherited the same from their father; the subtle, sober and serious execution of whatever they play on the violin, whether it is the opening varnam of Charukesi by Lalgudi or a fast "Nada Sudha Rasambilanu'' in Arabi by Tyagaraja, or a soul-stirring "Mokshamu Galada'' by Tyagaraja in Saramathi.
The emotional finesse, coupled with the raga essence, is never given a go by. Kalyani exposition and Syama Sastri's "Talli Ninnu Neranammi'' and "Tatvamariya Tarama'' in Ritigowla (Papanasam Sivan) were also regally authoritative without being overbearing.
Vellore Ramabadhran and Vaikom Gopalakrishnan on the mridangam and ghatam respectively were almost invisible supporters in the duo's strong melodious deluge.
A marathon exercise
T. N. Seshagopalan is multifaceted in his talents; he adds up one more expertise everyday, the recent ones being keyboard and harikatha.
His veena concert for Nungambakkam Cultural Academy provided the audience (though very few in number) to understand that he could nearly translate all his vocal gymnastics through the delicate instrument also.
Surprisingly, he played "O Jagadamba'' (Anandabhairavi by Syama Sastri), "Tsallare'' (Ahiri by Tyagaraja) and "Manavyala'' (Nalinakanti by Tyagaraja) with commendable control and measure of repose, softness and pep respectively. He made a very elaborate essay of Malayamaruthum for "Manasa Etulo'' by Tygaraja.
The problem with TNS is when his mastery is overtaken by eccentricity the presentation goes haywire. His neraval and swaras at "Kalilo Rajasa Thamasa'' after a point became calamitous with his focus shifted to variance in rhythm and kuraippus. Because of this marathon exercise, he had to rush through the main raga Keeravani and the kriti, "Innamum Sandeha Padalamo''.
But TNS is indefatigable; he introduced a brief `sruthibedam' in the alapana and went for a frenzical tanam, and later after the kriti he jumped for swaras with renewed vigour. But the rasikas were nearly exhausted by then.
Delhi Sunderrajan on the violin played ragas and swaras in Seshagopalan's style and also in his own style; the latter was more enjoyable.
Some of the phrases and the swara patterns he attempted in Malayamaruthum were aesthetic and enticing. Guruvayur Dorai on the mridangam managed all the rhythmic oddities of TNS to the singer's satisfaction.
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