Devotion and dexterity
Aruna Sairam enthralled Delhi listeners with her concert recently.
SONOROUS Aruna Sairam who performed in New Delhi the other day. Photo: S. Thanthoni
The overflowing forecourt of the Shankara Vidya Kendra in South Delhi was the venue where lovers of classical music and listeners keen on devotional numbers vied for space to hear the senior and popular musician of the concert circuit, Aruna Sairam in a close to three-hour recital this past week on the concluding day of the 38th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Satsangam.
Aruna, trained by her mother Rajalakshmi Sethuraman and the great T. Brinda, was in great form right from the opening Purandaradasa devarnama "Narayana Ninnanama" in raga Shuddha Dhanyasi. She wisely divided the duration of the recital into classical and devotional halves. Even in the classical segment her emphasis was less on the creative aspects of music like raga alapana, niraval and kalpana swaras, but more on the evocative rendering of kritis like Muthuswami Dikshitar's "Anandamritakarshini" in raga Amritavarshini, Gopalakrishna Bharati's "Sabhapatikku" in raga Abhogi, Tyagaraja's "Elanidaya radu" in raga Atana, Dikshitar's "Hiranmayim" in raga Lalita and Purandaradasa's "Ranga baro" in Shuddha Saveri. The violinist released a stunning torrent of swaraprastara for the Amritavarshini song. Her Todi raga alapana, mostly in the top register, was a crisp prelude to the evergreen Tamil piece "Taye Yashoda" of Uttukkadu Venkatasubbayyar. Aruna's powerful voice and dexterity in modulating it, and the clarity of pronunciation won the hearts of the listeners in this and other renditions. The swaraprastara extension of the Todi raga song was well nourished in laya proficiency.
In the second half of the recital, Aruna's forte in handling the devotional pieces in different languages was greatly relished by the listeners, who sent her chits with their requests. These pieces were rendered soulfully, from Mirabai's "Govinda leena", the abhanga "Bhaktajana vatsale", a folk song in Tamil, and a Bengali wake-up song for Devi Mahakali. Her rendition of an abhang in praise of Lord Ganapati was so evocative that it had the ambience of a Namasamkirtana session with the participation of the entire audience in ecstasy.
Rajaji's popular ragamalika piece "Kurai onrumillai" took their minds back to the way the great M.S. Subbulakshmi rendered it. The two Uttukkadu numbers, "Maragatamanimaya chela" in raga Arabhi, and the Kalinga-natana tillana, both studded with intricate rhythmic passages, had the audience in a spell. The young team of accompanists, Pakala Ramdas (violin), J. Vaidyanathan (mridangam) and S. Kartik (ghatam) put their best foot forward in contributing to the success of the recital.
A Lalgudi Jayaraman student, Ramdas gave chiselled versions of the ragas Amritavarshini and Todi. The percussion duo, disciples of T.K. Murthy and T.H. Vinayakaram respectively, marshalled their resources effectively in their accompaniment and the tani-avartanam phase of the recital. One wished however that the sound amplification arrangement in the recital had been more professional.
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