Marked by easy grace
THE STYLE of music that a vidwan or vidhushi presents defines him/her as a traditionalist or a deviant. The former blends sampradaya without injuring creativity. While no musician can isolate himself from the compulsions of contemporary competitiveness, he has to face the question how long his place in the music fraternity will survive. It is here, the ideal he/she cherishes serves as a guide.
Is silent appreciation or excited applause the touchstone of good music? There was a time when occasional applause enthused a musician but today at the end of an alapana or kirtana it has become a ritual. So can less or more claps determine whether the concert is really worth hearing? The audience reaction in recent times raises a doubt whether compositional quality of an alapana, karvais, madhyamakala phrases and an overall feeling of visranti are what one expects of a vidwan. The loudness of applause has come to dictate the quality of a concert. The vidwan is therefore faced with a dilemma: his inner voice may advise him to go in for the former qualities, but the one-upmanship desire drives him to seek the latter.
In the past, an artiste was allowed to grow step-by-step cautiously, but today it is the urgency of instant recognition. How to bridge the gulf between the old world gradual upward progress and today's irrepressible ambition to occupy the musical chair? This anxiety deprives a performance of inspirational traits to make it top class. Ostentatious flaunting of vocal opulence with very little touch of class is therefore the preferred mode of performing technique. Adherence to lofty values was the building block of Suguna Purushottaman's concert for the TTD Information Centre. The elaboration of alapanas of Todi and Kedaragowli moved with easy grace and the listeners silently absorbed the quietude they conferred. The alapanas were not flat but well worked out to emphasise the moorchanas. The discipline in her singing lent dignity to the rendering of the kirtanas "Kamalambike" (Todi) ,"Ksheera-Sagara" (Devagandhari), "Tulasi Bilva" (Kederagowla) and "Ikanaina-Naa" (Pushpalatika) reminiscent of her parampara stock. She gained distinction by the sincerity of interpretation.
She was well accompanied on the violin by M. A. Krishnaswamy, who also revealed his pedigree training. Mannargudi Srinivasan (mridangam) was youthfully exuberant.
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