When Durbar reigned supreme
T.M. Krishna left the audience enraptured; T.V. Sankaranarayanan proved predictable.
T. M. Krishna Photo: K. V. Srinivasan.
An innovative Mohanam! A stunning, awesome Durbar! With these T.M. Krishna ensured that his Indian Fine Arts 2005 concert would remain evergreen in the minds of all those who attended it.
Occasions when a Durbar was taken up for such elaborate treatment must be few. Tributes flowed in right there Krishna had to acknowledge twice before the applause died down.
Opening with Dikshitar's Nattakurinji piece "Bhudam Aasrayami" (it was a Wednesday), tailed by plenty of swaras, TMK sang Syama Shastri's "Mayamma" in Ahiri.
And then began the first splash of the indelible ink. His alapana was born along the Mohanam-Bilahari border the opening phrase did suggest Bilahari.
Then, flashing a smile at violinist M.A. Sundaresan, TMK began piloting his Mohanam into the hearts of the audience with some brilliant, innovative phrases. It was the good old "Nannu Paalimpa"! Experiment No.1 was leading the song with "Nadachi Vacchitivo."
Experiment No.2 was wedging a bunch of sprightly kalpanaswaras at that point. Both proved highly successful. The burst of staccato swaras culminating at half a beat past the median point of the tala cycle was stupefying.
Then came the celebration of the evening. When TMK took up Durbar, it was as though he was throwing a challenge to those immortal words that ruled the airwaves of Tamil Nadu once: enakku inaiyaga durbaril evarum undo (Is there anyone equal to me in Durbar)? Tyagaraja's "Mundu Venuga" soon charged the atmosphere.
The neraval and swaras that came at the charanam line "O Gaja Rakshaka, O Rajakumara" will be remembered for a long time.
T.V. Sankaranarayanan's concert on New Year's Day was ... good. But no more positives. It might as well have been a CD player in front of the mike. As the alapana of the central piece, Sankarabharanam, began, a rasika avowed to guess what the next phrase would be he got it right an amazing number of times.
The concert was run-of-the-mill from start to finish from "Vallabha Nayakasya" (Begada), through "Entha Bhagyam" (Saranga), "Brochevar Evarura" (Khamas) and "Abhaya Varade Sharade" (Hindolam) to "Enduku Peddala" (Sankarabharanam).
Whatever one may say about the lack of `sowkhyam,' etc., it is undeniable that TVS is one of the most gifted musicians. The consummate ease with which he handles ragas and swaras bears evidence to this. Recently, he produced an RTP in Kowsikadhwani.
In the past, he has sung ragas such as Vishnupriya, Vijayanagari and Soorya, which are not unheard of, but are nevertheless rare. Still he chooses to be so boringly repetitive often. Why is a mystery.
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