Mellow and enchanting
NITYASREE MAHADEVAN did not disappoint her large number of fans and she made every minute of the concert lively and exciting. Lively because there was never a dull moment, exciting because her voice, though high-pitched, was soothing, not shrill. In Tyagaraja's Simhavahini Kriti, Nenarunchara, her voice was mellow and the raga alapana and the kriti rendition were enchanting. Her Sriranjini alapana, too, was powerfully gentle and the kriti of Papanasam Sivan, ``Matha Innum Vatha" was rendered in right pace and with emotive skill. The alapana for Yamuna Kalyani raga was expansive and alluring when Nityasree rendered it, but violinist Usha Rajagopal in her enthusiasm, stretched it unnecessarily. However, Nityasree enlivened the atmosphere with the kriti Nanda Gopala. Then followed Ranganathude, in Sourashtram. Raga Vijayasaraswati came next and Nithyasri embellished each note and sanchara with her creativity. And for the kriti, ``Saranam Vijaya Saraswati," her neraval and swarakalpanas were very imaginative. The main piece of the concert, the Todi alapana was outstanding, as it was marked for its ravishing exhilaration of the raga bhava. Her natural voice was facile and was full of melody, with appropriate modulation. Tyagaraja's Kriti Enduku Dhayarathura was evocatively rendered. The accompaniment by Sivakumar on mridanga and Ravi on ghatam was very appropriate and supported the vocalist without any hindrance.
Well planned concert
Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan's concert was well planned and marked not only for his vidwat, but also for his sense of proportion in presenting the raga alapana, swaraprasthara and kriti. In each segment, he was precise and never indulged in excesses. Particularly, his voice co-operated very well and he was in fine form, right through. He began with the brisk Begada varnam, ``Intha Chalamu." However, when he took up the Pancharatna kriti ``Sadinchane," in Arabhi, he created the Aradhana mood. Having successfully created the right atmosphere, he chose Khamas. The raga alapana was amazing for its colourful imagination and the swaraprasthara for the kriti, ``Sarasa Dhala Nayana" was superb. Swaras came as a torrent, but all were natural and products of excellent imagination.
The following raga alapana of Varali too, was immensely soothing for the way he unfolded its beauty gradually, in each sanchara. Retaining the effect of the alapana he had created, as a preamble to the Tiruppavai song Aazhi Mazhai Kanna, he sang the Pasuram ``Anna vayal puduvai Andal" in Varali.
The hymn was appropriate for the month of Margazhi, and instead of relegating it to the end, he gave an eminent status in the middle of the concert itself.
Raga Dwajawanti has a lilting touch and Seshagopalan exploited it fully. The Dikshitar kriti, ``Chetasri Balakrishnam" was then rendered with considerable expressiveness. Unusually, Seshagopalan had forsaken his pet ``Kanakku" or variance in rhythm while singing swarakalpanas.
After ``Madhava Mamava Deva" in Neelambari, TNS chose Todi for detailed alapana and it was akin to the nadaswara pattern and the sancharas and rare `pidis' established his profound vidwat. The Oothukadu kriti ``Thaye Yasoda," gave him enough opportunity to show his prowess in neraval and his marathon swara singing was really breath taking with astonishing karvais. While ascending from manthara sthayi to thara-sthayi or vice versa, Seshagopalan was at ease in his execution and the way he stuck to the `akara' in manthara-sthayi for quite some time, brought him a round of applause from the spell-bound audience.
Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan
All violinist Chandrasekaran could do was to lay his instrument down, proclaiming ``There is nothing left for me to do."
Chandrasekaran, however, was at his best both in solo alapanas and swara duels. While Guruvayoor Dorai was a bit loud on his mridanga accompaniment, his tani with Srisundarkumar on Kanjira was enlivening. Srisundarkumar, incidentally, is emerging as a fine Kanjira player and senior mridanga vidwans should give him more opportunities, to display his art.
Despite being a Sunday morning the audience attendance for this year's Isai Peroli awardee Gayathri Girish was excellent. The items she chose for her recital were such as to grip the audience attention, right from Suddha Dhanyasi varnam Raja Mathangi, of Muthia Bhagavatar, followed by ``Dinamani vamsa" of Thyagaraja in Harikhamboji. Gayathri sang Kokilapriya, not usually heard these days, for the Dikshitar kriti ``Kothandarama Anisam bhajami." Her next was a spirited, brigha-filled Panthuvarali raga alapana, for the song ``Siva Siva Enaraadha." She scored both in neraval and swaraprasthara with the alert violinist Sanjeev responding equally sharp in his renditions. Then followed ``Neerajakshi Kamakshi" in Hindolam and the slow-paced kriti was treated well by Gayathri. As if for a contrast, she sang the fast-paced ``Saravanabhava Samymithira" of Muthia Bhagavatar next in Pasupathipriya.
The main piece of the morning's concert was the Sankarabharanam, in which she drew the contours of the raga and packed it with right sancharas in alapana, modulating effortlessly.
The kriti she sang was, again, of Dikshitar - Akshya Linga Vibho. If in raga alapana she gave much importance to the bhava, in kriti rendering, she brought out the emotional content impressively. Gayathri's plus point is that whether the sahitya is in Telugu or Sanskrit, her pronunciation is clear and she never swallows words.
This is true even in fast passages. The Tani by Ganapathiraman on mridanga and Adambakkam Sankar on ghatam was brief but interesting. One aspect in favour of Ganapathiraman is that right from the beginning, he asked to keep the volume low and he seemed to be an exception these days.
He was also magnanimous in giving opportunities to the ghatam player to show his talent. Post Thani, Gayathri sang Bharatiyar's ``Kakkai Chiraginile" in Brindavana Saranga and then rendered a Surdas bhajan Akhiyan Hari Dhrshan ki Pyasi in Behag, a new Tamil kriti ``Parthasarathy Tiruvallikeniyil," by Sivan's daughter Rukmini Ramani, in raga Sumanesa Ranjani, both quite alluring.
``Aarar Asai Padaar followed next. Before closing with the now-famous Rajaji song Kurai Onrum Illai, Gayathri created a sort of devotional fervour among the audience, with the sloka Santakaram Bhujaga Sayanam.
Gayathri's voice has gained strength by sustained training and with her melodious expression in both low and high octaves, the whole concert was an enjoyable experience.
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