Not enough time to showcase voice, skills and knowledge
at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan on 4 December, 2018
Allotment of just an hour and 15 minutes (or 1:20) for some top artists is very restrictive. Shertalai Shri K N Ranganatha Sharma's concert today at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan was one such, which was supposed to begin at 5 PM and end before the following 6:30 PM concert. On top of it, we had veteran maestros accompanying him like Mridangist Shri K V Prasad and Ghatam Shri Vaikom Gopalakrishnan. This time constraint we can avoid in some way, if possible - by providing at least a half-hour extra to make it at least a 2 hour concert.
Shri Ranganatha Sharma began the concert with a relaxed dEva dEva kalayA in mAyAmALavagowLa by Maharaja Swathi Thirunal set to rUpaka tALam. He sang short set of kalpanaswarams before concluding this piece. Then he presented a brief and crisp AlApanA of janaranjani. Expected the kriti on Lord Ganapathi as per structure of the 2nd song being in praise of Him. 'gaNapatE suguna nidE' of Harikeshanallur Shri Muthaiah Bhagavatar was presented as expected, including the chitta swarams.
|4 December, 2018 - at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan|
Another brief AlApanA in dEvagAndhAri was followed by shrI tulasammA of Saint Thyagaraja. With these three songs presented in relaxed manner, we were next expecting main presentation of the evening. Shri Ranganatha Sharma's style seems to start the main AlApanA in teasing manner (only my own opinion), where lay rasikas come to conclusion of one rAgam, before the full structure is unfurled. Today the AlApanA started with the uttarAngam sounding like vAcaspati. Only after a few phrases, with a slow descent to the shuddha rishabham he gave the picture of rAmapriyA (ramA manOHari as per Dikshitar school). He then launched into a very good AlApanA with standard structure of exploring the same.
I say this about his teasing manner, because in an earlier concert about a week ago, at Raga Sudha Hall, for Parivadini (you can read review by Shri Balasubramanian Gurumurthi), he started presenting the uttarAngam like kalyANi. Only when he descended to the shatsruti rishabham (R3) did we know that it was kOsalam - and it was a brilliant kOsalam on that day. Today, however, due to time constraints, it was a bit shorter presentation of rAmapriyA. The violinist also presented his version of AlApanA with skill and softness within the scope presented by the vocalist (please help in identifying the violinist). With both these rAgams, kOsalam on other day and today's rAmapriyA, I am convinced Shri Ranganatha Sharma needs better recognition and more time - it will be for the benefit of all rasikAs for sure.
Having heard 3 different composers in first three songs, I was hoping for a Dikshitar song. He presented mAtanga shrI rajarajeshwari very well followed by extended kalpana swarams. Set to rUpaka tALam I was wondering if the tani avartanam may not be included in this part, even though the 1 hour mark was reached. Indeed that was the case and gave ambiguous feeling. Expectations of another main song while also wondering whether he will not be able to do justice to that song, due to paucity of time.
Shri Ranganatha Sharma then sang Saint Thyagaraja's composition in kalAvati, 'ennaDu jUtunO inakula tilaka' in brisk manner before taking up AlApanA in mOHanam. I am sure he is capable of a full-fledged presentation of this important pentatonic scale. He sang a good AlApanA though not elaborate enough to satisfy our thirst. Again the violinist played his interpretation in short and crisp fashion, before the song mOHanarAmA. This song included neraval and kalpanaswarams befitting a main song, followed by the tani avartanam. It was good to see that none stirred from seat at tani avartanam, even though it was already about 6:30 PM (time for next concert). Shri K V Prasad and Shri Vaikom Gopalakrishnan played a very good unhurried tani avartanam showing their knowledge and skills well - and it ended near 6:40 PM.
Shri Ranganatha Sharma then rounded off the concert with a brief sketch of beHAg followed by sAramaina. This was a very good concert, with a superb voice booming in the hall over the wonderful music system. The volume of the other 3 accompanying artists could have been set a bit higher, to make it a nice even concert. These sounded a bit subdued, compared to his voice, which was not fully recognized by audio team, even though there were a few indications from the dais for adjustments.
Shri Ranganatha Sharma has been added to my list of favorite artists especially after these two concerts I have enjoyed in span of a dozen days.