S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Immersed in the raga: Sruthi Sagar

The Concert Scene
By Ramaswamy Narayanan

J.B. Sruthi Sagar makes music as though born with a silver flute in his mouth.

When I first heard him,  Sagar came through as a revelation to me. His musical sense and sensibility belie the young man's years. As he plays with eyes closed, completely immersed in his music, there is instant bonding with the rasikas.

As I entered the concert hall, he was in the midst of a raga made for the flute: Begada.The gamakas not overdone, his brief raga essay was enchanting. Sagar chose the perfect kriti to follow, Nee pada pankajamula nenera namminanu, Tyagaraja's ode to Rama's lotus feet. The powerful anupallavi lines were beautifully rendered.

Next, Sagar played Mayamma yanine pilachite, Syama Sastri's moving entreaty to Meenakshi in Ahiri. Sagar played the great kriti as it should be, in reverential chauka kalam. One could almost jear the words Sarasija bhava Hari haranuta sulalita nee padapankajamula sthiramani, so clearly was Sagar playing each syllable. It was a reverie from which I woke up only when the song was over!
Sagar next played Shanmukhapriya, not elaborately but at just the right length to convey his vision. He made long and powerful statements in the upper octaves to bring out the sharp and energetic mood of the raga. It was the final 60 seconds of his ati mandra sthayi that gave me goosebumps .

The song he played was Tanjavur Sankara Iyer's Paamalai sudiye, the lilting piece almost indistinguishable from a Sivan composition. This was rendered with aplomb and crystal clarity.

The kuraippu here, as elsewhere, showed that even in the second kalam, the swaras must be soaked in the melody of the ragas. This is the other appealing feature of Sagar's playing.

The day's accompanists have become veterans on the circuit this year. B. Ananthakrishnan lifted the concert with his mellifluous violin support. Thanjavur Praveen and Nerkunam Sankar gave percussion support with understanding, and played a tani of lively rhythmic patterns.

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