S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Two memorable concerts

By PNV Ram
Two concerts in the senior slot stand out among those I have attended so far at the Music Academy this Season—Sangeetha Sivakumar’s vocal cutcheri and a veena duet by Padmavathy Ananthagopalan and Jayanthi Kumaresh. I remember being highly impressed by young Sangeetha at the start of her career, which included some very sensitive singing for the dance of Lakshmi Viswanathan. Since then, there was a lingering feeling of promise unfulfilled, in that she did not quite reach the top of the heap in the Carnatic music concert circuit. Her O Jagadamba (Ananda Bhairavi, Adi, Syama Sastri) on 20 December at the Academy was an emotive prelude to a quite magnificent Todi alapana followed by Tyagaraja’s Endu daginado (Todi, Misrachapu), served in a grand, measured style fast going out of vogue. VVS Murari’s violin accompaniment was quite outstanding, wringing every bit of the rasa of the ragas on offer that evening. Shertalai R Anantakrishnan’s mridangam was not far behind in terms of quality of accompaniment, though he and an enthusiastic B Rajasekhar overstretched what started as a brilliant tani, resulting in the unfortunate abridgement of the ragam-tanam-pallavi in Pantuvarali. With this excellent performance, Sangeetha managed to emphasise an old cricket truism: Form is temporary, but class is permanent. Here’s hoping her recent surge is indeed permanent!
Aunt and niece simply stole the show, with some of the chastest, most majestic veena heard in a while, with even the pick-up microphones failing to distort the sound. (Ironically, some of the better versions of these instrument-amplifiers are referred to as acoustic mikes, an oxymoron I will not object to if their effect is as pleasant as the music on 17 December at the Academy. Their Tyagaraja kriti Tulasi bilva in Kedaragowlai will linger long in my mind’s ears as will their Sankaram (Kamalamanohari, Rupakam, Dikshitar), and the many-splendoured Bhajare re chita (Kalyani, Misrachapu, Dikshitar) they painted in the most tasteful, yet vibrant colours, to complete a deeply moving canvas. Earlier, starting with the Kambhoji varnam by Vadivelu of the Tanjavur quarter, and continuing with the lilting Tatvamariya (Ritigowlai, Adi, Papanasam Sivan) and thrilling Mohanam (Bhavanuta, Tyagaraja), they raised high audience expectations that were fully realised with what followed. The percussion accompaniment by R Ramesh (mridangam) and H Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam) were perfect foil to the vainikas. All in all, a genuine treat for listeners of authentic Carnatic music.
Among the youngsters I have heard so far this season, Ramakrishnan Murthy must be the most accomplished, to go by the evidence he provided at the Music Academy on 27 December. Among the vocalists on the verge of promotion to the senior slot, Amritha Murali, gave an immaculate performance as always on Christmas afternoon. More about them later.

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