Ragas shine with pearly lustre
ENDOWED WITH a pleasant voice that imparts an aromatic flavour to her singing, Lakshmi Rangarajan presented the raga alapanas of Saveri (``Kamakoti-Peeta-Sthithe") Simhendramadhyamam (``Rama-Rama-Guna Seema") and Sankarabharanam (``Dakshinamurthe") with pearly lustre. With an eye set on the beauteous light and shade, she paid sedulous attention to give a touch of deep delicacy to the sancharas, particularly for Sankarabharanam and Simhendramadhyamam. The picture she placed before the rasikas of these two ragas was such as to tempt acceptance as top-class. The quality of her singing spoke of the years of good training.
Quite sharp in absorbing the vocalists approach, violinist Hemalatha collected the raga sancharas in sheaves in her solo version and made it look sumptuous. Mannarkoil Balaji (mridangam) fastened the rhythm lightly. The three on the dais looked like made for each other.
Sumitra Nitin displayed very good grounding in structuring the raga, the kalapramana and stressing the moorchanas. Her effort in the alapanas of sruti (``Sri-Venkata-Girisam") and Sankarabharanam (``Swara-Raga Sudha") would have been more impressive of proper spacing between sancharas had been observed and voice modulated to bring out gana-naya instead of a uniform tonal level. The same is the case with the interpretation of kirtanas. Amrita Murali on the violin was equally competent in her support. B. Vijayan was the mridangist.
T. V. Ramprasad has a strong voice both in volume and timbre which called for softening techniques to fall easy on the ear. So it is, the tonal thrust was a little bit harsh. The raga essays related to Dharmavathy and Bhairavi which were overpoweringly rich in tone and colour. The kirtana session included "Yagnadulu" (Jayamanohari) "Bhajana-Seya-Raadha" (Dharmavathy) "Sri-Satya-Narayanam" (Subapantuvarali) and "Raksha-bettare" (Bhairavi). Mysore Srikanth on the violin was vigorous and Melakkaveri Balaji (mridangam) beat-happy.
Observance of swarasthanas and the scale does not reveal the charm of a raga. Each raga has a characteristic gamaka nuance which has to be focussed. Similarly the articulation of sahityas needs a softened flow, not abrasiveness. With these two disabilities, Swarna Rethas, notwithstanding his good grounding, failed to evoke appeal. So there was mass in his music, not muse. "Rama-I Kanannu" (Sahana) "Siva-Siva" (Pantuvarali) and "Bala-Gopala" (Bhairavi) were the kirtanas rendered. V. Anantakrishnan (violin) and K. V. Gopalakrishnan (mridangam) were quite adequate.
Gayatri Girish, with her ringing voice, spread her vidwat in her alapanas of Todi (``Dasukovalena") and Dharmavathy (Ragam, tanam and pallavi). Her presentation was a cut above the general hackneyed approach. She steered the raga flights in the proper direction to be productive in effect. The other songs were "Janani-Ninnuvina" (Ritigowla) and "Vinaraada-Naa" (Devagandhari) which she wrapped up with consummate competence. V. Sanjeev (violin) extended meaningful support. Ganapathiram (mridangam) with Adambakkam Shankar (ghatam) was very enthusiastic to add pep to the songs.
The performance of Sikkil Gurucharan was marked by restraint in the alapanas of Devagandharam, according to the Dikshitar school with the song "Kaayaarohanesam" and Vachaspati ("Pahi-Jagat-Janani"). He has a powerful voice which he manages dexterously to make it pleasing. The other items were "Vinata-Sutha" (Jayantasena) and "Gnana-Sabayil" (Saranga, a composition of Papanasam Sivan). The violinist Nagai Sriram was galloping in his raga versions. B. Sivaraman (mridangam) was garrulous.
The raga delineation of Simhendramadhyamam ("Ninne-Nammiti") and Bhairavi (``Upachaaramulanu") by R. Ganesh was perambulatory and loud-throated lacking in sensitivity. Added to this the amplification was ear-shattering. Sukham aspect was momentary. "Maathe-Malayadwaja" (Kamas) and "Kanavendama" (Sriranjani) showed indications of a good performance, but Ganesh changed the direction to vocalisation. Shertalai Sivakumar (violin) was in the same mood. A. S. Ranganathan (mridangam) and Adambakkam Shankar (ghatam) were comparatively sober.
Unusually Sriram Gangadharan was very much restrained in his tonal outburst and elaborated Mukhari with the song "Karu-Baru" and Todi (``Kaddanu-Vaariki"). They were decently presented, though not with sensitivity. Usha Rajagopalan (violin) and Balashankar (mridangam) were the accompanists.
Aditya Prakash addressed his effort to the harmony between voice and the range of ragas. The choice of the songs "Meru Samana" (Mayamalavagowla), "Srikanta-Neeyeda" (Bhavapriya) and "Rama-Nee-Samanamevaru" (Karaharapirya) spoke of his respect to the Thyagaraja heritage. The Karaharapriya alapana was well structured. He had in Ananta Padmanabhan (violin) and Sankara Narayanan (mridangam) very co-operative accompanists.
Stimulated by sensitive musical instincts and expressional dignity and grace, the main charm of Nisha Rajagopal's kutcheri was the brilliance of restraint she observed in alapanas and swaras. A voice as soft as satin helped her move over the octaves in her alapanas of Mukhari (Entaninne) and Sankarabharanam (Manasu-Swadinamy) with ease and elegance. The music was intensely solid but all the same gentle. If she was able to climb great heights in her Sankarabharanam alapana, it was all within her tight control. Classical in style, slicing in musical expression and tapering cadences, her kutcheri was an indication of an youngster's ideals. Ananta Padmanabhan, provided desirable violin support. S. Sankaranarayanan on the mridangam was bursting with percussive patterns in the fast mode.
Prema Rangarajan projected the scholarly side of music by the way she sang the Suddha Mukhari kirtana, "Muraharena-Mukundena." The regular kutcheri item of Pantuvarali with the kriti "Sundara-Dara-Deham" and "Evarunnaru" (Balahamsa, a kriti of Mysore Sadasiva Rao) set her on an even keel to take on Madhyamavati for ragam, tanam and pallavi, dealt with great care. Padma Shankar (violin) was ably supportive. Madippakkam Suresh (mridangam) soberly kept the percussive wing.
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