Kartik Fine Arts
A downpour of Poorvikalyani
AN ART reviewer for a series is sometimes placed in the difficult position, of having to sit through the same kritis repeatedly, and sometimes in succession. What he must guard against is the tendency either to turn off his attention, or to fall into a mood of comparing one rendering against the others. This is much more true when it comes to ragas. There is nothing to gain by bemoaning the fact that while there are so many ragas (and kritis in each raga), artistes choose to zero in, on just a few. That is their privilege and reviewing is the critic's chore; and both need to put their best efforts.
When Santhanagopalan took up alapana in Poorvikalyani (as the third or fourth artiste in Kartik Fine Arts to choose the same raga), a momentary sigh was quickly replaced by deep involvement, into which the singer's steady and pleasant development pulled the listener. V. V. Ravi joined in with totally consonant bowing with him, in tune and spirit. When Dikshitar's "Meenakshi Meymudam Dehi'' came up, there was so much harmonic content in both voice and violin that together with the very sensitive touch of Guruvayur Dorai and Madipakkam Ravi (ghatam), there was the illusion of a veritable Naada Brahma orchestra. Neraval, for a change, was at the 2nd kalam, "Madhumura Modita Hrdaya Sadaye'', rather than at the customary ``Madura-puri Nilaye'' in vilambam. A notable touch of aesthetic innovation in kalpanaswaras was to keep the sancharas almost totally within mantarasthayi, descending to anumantara madhyama and gandhara. The tasteful modulation on the part of voice, string, drum and pot rising from the threshold of audibility with almost planetary rhythm, through higher volumes, to a crescendo, recalled the verses of Valmiki and Kalidasa, describing the onset of Varsha (Season of Rain), when the maiden droplets from the dark clouds gently usher in the season, growing bigger into downpour, torrent, flood, ravage and devastation; and then abating all part of Nature with the four getting back, after a marathon swarakorvai, to the sahityam.
The earlier "Janaki Ramana'' (Suddhasimantini, Adi, Tyagaraja), with kalpanaswaras at "Naktanalinadhara'' brought the memories of Madurai Mani Iyer.
Santhanagopalan's perception of how Carnatic music is integrated with bhakti, through sahitya, raga, laya and sruti stood out also in his rendering of the Anandabhairavi kriti, "Ramachandra Ra Ra Rajeeva'' (Adi, Madhyama kaala) and "Pankajalochana" (Kalyani, Misrachapu).
His delineation of Sankarabharanam was a picturesque demonstration of the immense scope for "gliding" through this raga's component swaras, without stressing their discrete identities. Indulging in an almost didactic style which was nevertheless delicious he fine-tuned this raga, raising it further and further into the realms of sublimity.
Throughout the kriti which followed, "Svara Raga Sudharasa", tasteful blending of gamaka and sangatis was prominent. In the words, "Moolaadhara," one got the illusion of being led to the Moola (root) of musical values, when the singer plunged gently to the anumantara panchama.
The tani avartanam between Guruvayur Dorai and Madipakkam Ravi breezed through some of 97 avartanams covering all the nadais in delightfully-woven patterns, lasting nearly 20 minutes. It was an enthralling experience to witness the sharp, short shots in the percussive dialogue.
The varnam in Durbar, "Teliyajaleru Rama" in Dhenuka, a briga studded alapana in Bilahari, rich in moorchchana, gamaka, sangati, and raga lakshana oozing from every pore, followed by an enlivening kriti ("Tuni Chelma") in Khanda chapu all within 40 minutes from the start gave the 300-odd listeners at the R. R. Sabha Hall in the early evening hours of December 17 the promise of whatever they were looking for. With Ranjani and Gayathri conducting the concert, H. N. Bhaskar was totally at ease in his repartee to every challenge presented by the singers, without sacrifice in bhava or tonal sweetness. Young J. Vaidyanathan, quiet and confident all through, was giving the appropriate punctuations in his rhythm on the mridangam.
Trivandrum Rajagopal was handling the kanjira.
Poorvikalyani, introduced by Gayathri, commencing with the common sanchara pa-ma-ga, ri-sa, nidha-sa, ri-ga, was painted rich with its vital hues and taken gradually through exquisite emphasis at effective passages till it sky-rocketed to the highest ranges of the upper panchama and dhvaita in most enjoyable sweeps, until Poorvikalyani was executing ecstatic dance steps for the listener.
Bhaskar responded with a matching introduction of pa-ma-gari, gama-ga-ri-sa, sanidha-sa-ri-ga, and explored the raga' s richness further, in his own style, tinged with the character of his instrument, and took her on a different course till she was pirouetting as in a ballet.
Vaidyanathan and Rajagopal joined in the project when "Meenakshi Meymudam Dehi" graced the Kartik Fine Arts rasikas again. The two packed a load of pleasant sollus to go with the music and confidently contributed excellent liaisons in the pauses among pallavi, anupallavi, charanam and neraval. Their tani, though restricted to about five minutes, with some 20-25 avartanas of exchange, was charming. The entire 50-minute Poorvikalyani chapter was a delectable package.
The concluding pieces of vrittam in the Tamil kriti, "Teyruvadu Eppo, Nenjey" in Khamas and Abhang by which time, one noticed, the R. R. Sabha Hall was packed had the audience raving again. There was one distinct feeling, though. The placement of Nilakantha Sivan's "Nava Siddhi Petraalum'' (Kharaharapriya, Misra) within the first 45 minutes of the concert at a slow, deliberate pace, stirred one's sensitivities. It could have succeeded the tani and earned just as much accolade as it did now.
The "success" of a music concert on today's stage is a function of so many variables that one finally infers that luck is the element that controls the fate of a programme. Appearing immediately after the recital of Ranjani and Gayathri Trichur Ramachandran had a number of adverse circumstances stacked against him.
To begin with, his voice was not in the best of shape; then the exit of a noticeable chunk of audience from the hall, who presumably had pressing engagements elsewhere was not helpful; and thirdly, and the most contributivefactor, the quixotic behaviour of the sound system at the R. R. Sabha Hall, which decided to squeal the intermittently the joie de vivre.
It took all of some twenty minutes, with an expert committee handling the problem, to bring it under enough control to limit, but sadly, not totally stop, the intrusive howling. In the meantime, technicians scurried across the stage, pulling the microphone from M. A. Sundaresan, violinist, much to the latter's consternation. This tragic comedy successfully took away the opening impression, as the audience's attention was mostly on technology, not to mention the total disarray the artiste's plans were put into. K. V. Prasad, mridangist, understandably did not conceal his annoyance, as he offered his suggestions to the "mike man". To Ramachandran's credit must be mentioned that though he was struggling, he kept his composure, without ever a scowl or frown.
He proceeded with a varnam in Saveri, "Oruvarum Iruvarum" in Abhogi, Khandachapu; "Swaminatha Paripalaya" in Nattai, Adi all in madhyama kaala. His brief sanchara in Pantuvarali, delivered tastefully, was complemented by Sundaresan on the vibrant strings of his violin. Swati Tirunal's "Paripalaya Saraseeruha Lochana" in a fast Adi, with neraval at "Kamalaanana" on swara `Ga' and half-beat, followed by kalpanaswara, over twenty minutes was laden with rich manobhava on the singer's side, and admirable co-ordination by the other three in the team.
Following this, a moving item, "Annai Umayaal Tirumagane Muruga... " in Ritigowlai, Adi, and "Naathupai", (Sri, Khandachapu) were rendered in quick succession. After making an announcement, the singer took up a rare find of Muthuswami Dikshithar's works in Kalyani, Adi, beginning with the words "Kumbheswaraaya Namaste". The ragalakshana was projected exhaustively over some twenty minutes. The song itself, with neraval at "Mukunda Kamaneeya" and a kalpanaswara, was a delicious offering to the audience.
The tani avartanam between Prasad and T. H. Subhashchandra was limited in its duration, perhaps on account of the hour, but its richness could not be missed. The concert was wrapped with Maand, Hamsanandi, Bilahari, Kapi and Yadukulakambodi.
P. S. KRISHNAMURTHY
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