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A musical treat

B.R.C. Iyengar

Kalasagaram fest wound up with artistes of repute putting up their best performance.

PHOTOS: S. SIVA SARAVANAN, SHAJU JOHN AND M. PERIASAMI

MELODIOUS RENDITIONS: Sanjay Subramaniam

Continuing the Kalasagaram's Annual Festival, Sanjay Subramanyam participated in the vocal music on the fourth day. Kumbakonam Gopinath accompanied Sanjay on the violin, Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam and Trichy Murali on the ghatam. When it comes to weighing up the performance of Sanjay Subramaniam, an ecumenical wisdom and contained confidence would be needed to answer modestly and faithfully his acumen. This is because no other artiste has equalled him in clarity or force of style, in directness and pungency of phrase. He has genial scorn for repetitive recipes, an ardent refusal to cripple with worthless inventiveness in the form of gimmicks but bespeaks of a unique talent. His art is disciplined and academic, majestic in orderly splendour and unsurpassed in artistic finish. Given a richer voice, he would have worked wonders.

The concert was an outstanding example of what excellence and quality can be. The classic ata tala varnam in Ritigowla was the commencing item. Nenarunchera in Simhavahini built up the cadence. Raga Pantivarali with the brisk phrases and distinctive combinations was followed with attractive neraval and thumping combinations in swarakalpana in the kriti, Siva siva enarada stimulated the audience with delight. The ingenuity of Sanjay was evident when he introduced a piece of mallari in the raga Gambhira Naatai. A mallari is a rhythmic composition (sollu) almost akin to a thillana but devoid of lyric. Sanjay rendered it in thrikalam and won the applause of the audience.

Fine flute

The following day Jayaprada Ramamurthy played flute accompanied by Peri Sriramamurthy on the violin, Lakshminarayana Raju on the mridangam, Madipakkam Murali on the ghatam and Shyam Kumar on the kanjira. Jayaprada is one of the outstanding flute players among the younger generation and has made a mark in a short time. Confidence, clarity of style, rich nada, an immaculate sense of rhythm and wealthy repertoire are Jayaprada's assets.



Jayaprada Ramamurthy

The passionate desire of contemporary artistes to indulge in richly rephrased and choreographed koruvais in swarakalpana has reached such bizarre proportions that it is proving aberrant and repulsive. Jayaprada is no exception in this inane work out. The exertion is more manifest with flute players. It all started with Mali, although his efforts were projected towards a rhythmic burlesque, but the present-day artistes have picked up the wrong end of this endeavour. Jayaprada is an excellent artiste, but she ought to get into communication with her audience and carry them with her.

The concert commenced with the famous varnam in Bhairavi set to ata talam. A krithi of Purandara Dasa in Hamsadwani followed and built up the tempo. Ganamurthe in the raga Ganamurthi was a routine rendering. The concert gained some credence in her playing an attractive episode of Vasantha.

The krithi of Dikshithar, Brihadambikayai was well received. Kamboji was selected for elaborate dealing and it came off very well. Simhendramadhyama was chosen for elaboration and it was neatly done, bringing out the delicacies and nuances of the raga. The pallavi set to thisra jathi jhampa tala displayed the scholarship of the artiste. To accompany instrument, and flute in particular, calls for dexterity and concentration. In taking care to do an effective job, a violinist under the circumstances underplays. It was the situation with Peri Sriramamurthy who accompanied on the violin. Lakshminarayana Raju is a veteran on mridangam and he elevated the concert to higher status.

Sisters impress

Priya Sisters (Shanmukhapriya and Haripriya) who sang the following day have shot to fame all in a sudden about a decade ago. They are good singers but to attribute enormity to their singing is a fallacy. There has been a tendency in recent times to put the emphasis rather on the artiste as a craftsman than the art as such. In the process, artistes like the Priya Sisters tend to impress with overemphasis of the grotesque element in a scherzo section and neglect somehow to turn it into music. Their music flows effortlessly but totally lacks spiritual feeling, emotional expression and fertile, and enduring melody.



Priya Sisters

Most of the items they selected had nothing to speak highly about — neither art, nor technique, neither expressiveness nor delicacy. The expertise of artiste in Carnatic music is revealed in his/her manodharma (creative) music, which consists of alapana, neraval and swarakalpana. With a modicum of ability and relentless practice, anybody can render songs that are taught and learnt with the help of notations. The effort of the sisters in all these facets was juvenile, mechanical and repetitive. There was little or no neraval in the entire concert.

The performance commenced with the ragamalika varnam, Valachivachchi. A Purandra Dasa krithi in Hamsadwani followed it. Alapana of the raga Harikamboji (Ramanannubrovara) by Haripriya started well but soon crumbled with needless breezy and repetitive sangathis and with no design or structure. The item Sri Kamalamba jayathi — a navavarna krithi of Dikshithar in the raga Aahiri was indeed the best presentation in the entire concert.

The good effort was soon aborted by the introduction of the song, Swagatham Krishna, in Mohana, which resembled bhajana sangitham; the common listener lapped it up while the connoisseur lamented. The alapana of the raga Shanmukhapriya by Shanmukhapriya was below average. Haripriya who took over half way through, added some colour to it. The krithi Parvathinayakane was a routine exercise. In the RTP, in Madhyamavathi too, if the alapana by Haripriya was middling, the tanam fell short of basics. The pallavi set to Khandajathi thriputa talam was mediocre. Ragavendra Rao who was on the violin was also run of the mill. It was only the mridangam version of Satish Kumar that proved worthy in the entire concert.

Unparalleled repertoire

T.V. Sankaranarayanan is today the senior-most amongst the class artistes. With endless concerts behind him, his experience is phenomenal and his repertoire, doubtless unparalleled. The style, as every one knows, is not new but yet pervasive. It may be summarised as replacing the calm simplicity of classical forms with exuberance of feeling and ornament, aimed at the classical and achieving the baroque. He is a shrewd singer. Endowed with the unique skill of discrimination than discretion, he can, at the right moment, keep aside the classical and cater to the common listener material laced with intellectual asceticism, yet maintaining a logical sequence. This, in fact, is the secret of his success. This is an age where musical tendencies exert considerable influence — good or bad — over the current attitude towards classical masterpieces.



T.V. Sankaranarayana

In terms of selection of the items, it was a mixed fair, the classical with the popular, the spiritual with the theatrical and the common with the rare, a format, which can cater to the common as well as the connoisseur. Most of the items were uncommon amongst which Kalyani was high-flying.

The krithi Nambikettavrillavo of Purandra Dasa was artistically depicted. The neraval and swarakalpana added needed glamour. Yet another item, which was well received, was the alapana of Bhairavi and the accompanying song Thanyuni brova. Ranjani was chosen for RTP set to adi talam. It was a simple pallavi well executed. Mullaivasal Chandarsekhar on the violin, Prasad on the mridangam, Somayajulu on the ghatam formed an excellent team and the thani was exhilarating.

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