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Simple and sweet

THE CONCERT of T. K. Chandrasekar for KFA at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan Hall at the noon hour of December 14, 2003 can be described succinctly as short, simple and sweet. Melody seemed to have been his guiding motto.

He made a judicious selection of items to go with the time of the day, the duration allotted to him and the anticipated small turn-over of rasikas, avoiding elaborate, slow-moving numbers demanding concentrated treatment.

The opening number on Ganapati in a Muthuswamy Dikshitar's sahitya evidenced a rich male voice with a light touch that provided pleasant listening. In the succeeding piece Swati Tirunal's "Deva Deva Kalayami" in Maayaamaalava gowlai, Rupakam, he gave the taste of short neraval and kalpanaswara at `jataroopa,' `Kamalaabdha Kula' (in Brindavana Saaranga, Desadi) followed this.

Tyagaraja's short kriti in Saama, "Edulaina bhakthi" in Misra Chapu after this was in a vilamba tempo. R. Kailasam touched the moorchchhana swaras effectively on his strings.

On Papanasam Sivan's "Venkataramana, Nin Vilayadalai Yaar Arivaar?" Chandrasekar bestowed a short but rich alaapana in Lataangi with tasteful akaara-sanchaaras. Neraval and kalpanaswaras were at the charanam line "Alarmelmangai."

Again the whole set took over hardly ten minutes in all, but there was an abundant amount of soft, plaintive and pleasantly rhythmic expression. This ethos continued till the end, through the remaining numbers — Saaranga ("Sriranga unnai potriduven"), Karnaranjini ("Devaki Saranyane, Devaki Baalane"), Charukesi ("Krupayaa paalaya"), Sindhu Bhairavi ("Kannanai Kandaayo?"), Behag ("Irakkam varaamal ponadhenna kaaranam?") and the Malayalam song in Abheri. Thirupunthuruthi Viswanathan, but for an initial tendency to be loud on his mridangam, kept up the spirit. His short tani, though confined in concept mostly to the concluding aavartanas, was not without its crispness and aesthetic appeal.

Judging from a mere account of this concert, one may justifiably describe it as too heavily loaded with uruppadis (numbering ten) for the one hour it lasted. Perceptions differ according to the circumstances of the listener.

What was important to those who had sat through well over two dozen concerts in the period of just over three weeks was that this recital was free of the gaudy embellishments of rhythm, beat and noise heard these days, particularly among the generation of not-so -famous singers. Chandrasekar' s performance perhaps classified as light classical Carnatic. It acted on his listeners as a light shower at the end of an exhilarating, if trying, journey through hard classical Carnatic concerts, with the toil and sweat associated with them, enjoyable as they are.

Pleasingly rendered

K. Gayathri was leading the young team of Charumathy Raghuraman (violin) and K. Sankaranarayanan (mridangam). Her interesting opening number, "Gajanayankaney," (Adi tala Navaraga varnam), had the five Thyagaraja Pancharatna ragas till its charanam and then took Reethigowlai, Surati, Kedaram and Revagupti for the charana swaras. Latangi, Reetigowlai and Kambodi went for serious exploration through alapana, niraval and/or swaram, wih their kriti counterparts "Piravavaram" (Adi), "Janani ninnuvina" (misra -chapu) and "Thiruvadi charanam" (Adi). "Ninnu joochi Kannudai" (Saurashtram, Adi) and "Adukaraani" (Manoranjani, Desadi) were the faster items, before Gayathri turned to vrittam in Tamil (Mukhari, Begada, Karnataka -Devagandari, Neelambari, Nadanamakriya) and javali "Marubari" (Khamas), to wind up with "Karpagame" (Madhyamavati) — a full bouquet of some nine songs, covering 20 ragas and 3 rhythm patterns, all pleasingly rendered.

Blessed with a melodious voice, flexible enough to take in a crisp ravai texture and roll off pleasant brigas on command, Gayathri can turn into a fine professional in the long run. Her adherence to sruti cannot be missed, nor the benefit of the sound `patantharam' on which her singing is founded. Her rendering of kritis (without exception) stood out for its commitment. More sadhaka can guard her, when she makes independent essays, from imperfections such as in Latangi, which marred both manobhava and rendition. Her structuring could have done with better organising.

Reetigowlai shines better with gamaka and karuvai than in briga, particularly when the song following is slow and solemn. The absence of pauses between sequences of sancharas, unduly hasty, prevented her portrayal from sinking in the mind.

Restraint pays dividends, particularly to younger artistes. Charumathy Raghuraman's accompaniment on the violin was characterised by her attention to exploring refinement rather than establishing her presence on stage. She extracted the harmony of her instrument to full advantage, and displayed that admirable ability, vital when accompanying another artiste, of tuning to the ambience that the latter produces.

The two aspects of mridangam-playing, accompanying on songs and independent interpretation, were taken full care of by Sankaranarayanan. His tani, at the end of the double-beat Adi of "Thiruvadi Saranam" (on samam), filled all of ten minutes. It demonstrated the latter, while his going with the other musicians during the rest of the programme showed his sensitivity to the former.

P. S. KRISHNAMURTI

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