Saturday, 8 December 2018

Shertalai Shri Ranganatha Sharma's brilliant concert constrained by time

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.

Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Overwhelmed by a Chamber music type concert by Prince Rama Varma

Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan main hall
If Sunday we witnessed "sowkhya sangeetham", then on Tuesday, at the same venue, we all witnessed "sowkhyam-er" sangeetham. I have a feeling that it probably is the "sowkhyam-est", but don't want to rush into such extreme judgement, lest Carnatic music itself and some stalwarts prove me wrong yet again. We had a wonderful feeling of attending a chamber concert from Prince Rama Varma, accompanied by Avaneeswaram Shri S R Vinu on violin and Shri B Harikumar on the Mridangam. Soft, melodious and soulful music was presented over the 2 hours in the evening concert.
Prince Rama Varma started with the bhairavi varnam 'viribOni'. He presented the pallavi, anupallavi and muktAyi swarams in three kAlas before proceeding to the charanam 'cirunav' in the brisk pace. The softness was also followed by Shri S R Vinu in his presentation as well as Shri Harikumar's accompaniment. As probably many know, Shri Harikumar can be goaded to play exhuberantly when required for a different team and different presentation. In this concert he gave apt touches through out.
The next song presented was 'vAtApi gaNapatim' in Hamsadhvani. Continuing in a medium tempo and soulful rendition, Prince Rama Varma started expressing facially and with actions, at certain points in the kriti to add colour to the concert. Making a 'ogre' like face, while singing 'bhUtAdi' and using a mandra stayi phrase showed us that he would be adding such postures and actions at key points to express the meaning of the lines as well. He sang very good kalpana swarams after the caranams and presented many variations with pauses, jumping octaves, etc., which reminded us and indicated the influence of his guru Dr. M Balamuralikrishna.
A view from our seats on 27 November, 2018
After just a few seconds of indication of pantuvarALi, he started with 'rAma bhakti' as part of the rendition of 'aparAma bhakti'. After a very involved and bhakti filled rendition of the kriti, he launched into kalpana swarams. During the kalpana swarams in pantuvarALi, suddenly he seemed to stumble upon 'niri niri gama gari sa'. With a 1000 watt bulb of a smile on getting this swaram phrase, and thrill of a child discovering an unexpected gift, he repeated it in the fashion of the pUrvi tillAnA which begins with these swarams. As most of you know, pUrvi is the Hindustani equivalent of pantuvarALi.
The end of kalpanaswarams was a very interesting stretch of 3-4 minutes in various nadais and also some with nice pauses, single swarams and dwelling on a single swaram, etc. This included a descent step by step all the way to the adhara shadjam, without any hesitation, and dwelling on each note in mandara stAyi - pa.... ma.... ga.... ri.... then finally sa - without any problem with maintaining the sruti at that bass! Of course, there was spontaneous applause for him presenting this series of swarams. This part reminded us of the bass of Shri M D Ramanathan who loved to sing the bass and with impeccable sruti alignment. The interesting part was that Shri S R Vinu then presented a nearly identical kalpana swaram follow-up including the descent and extension of each swaram in the mandra stAyi. Incredible to remember the structure of the 3-4 minutes of that manodharma and repeat it nicely! The kalpana swarams also had so much of Dr. Balamuralikrishna's styles incorporated. We can say that Dr. Balamuralikrishna continues to live and perform among us in the form of Prince Rama Varma.
Next Prince Rama Varma presented the HindOLam composition of Dr. M Balamuralikrishna 'gAna rasikE'. This composition is replete with swaraksharams and is indeed wonderful to hear. It was a compact presentation of the song after which he announced that it was his guru's composition, even though it was obvious for us that inclusion of 'muraLi' as well as the style of the composition, including swaraksharams, can only be His composition.
shankarAbharanam was chosen as the main piece for the day. The earlier four songs were rendered without an AlApanA. The irresistable, slow, melodious lineation of this weighty rAgam was superb. It was a very good classical elaboration of the rAgam, followed by Shri S R Vinu's reply in similar manner - nuanced, unhurried and melodious. By the way, just as the AlApanA was unfolding, a VIP from middle of first row stood up, walked to the rightmost seat of second row and admonished the person. Then we noticed that this gentleman in second row, though well out of view of all audience, was busy reading the newspaper, likely in noisy manner, which seemed to disturb the VIP. There were other interesting things that happened, which we will cover at end of this report.
Prince Rama Varma's diction, splitting of lyrics in right way to emphasize the meanings, etc., are really to be learnt from by students. Again, Dr. M BMK's influence can be seen very much in this aspect. Amazing diction.
Before beginning the main piece, Prince Rama Varma explained that this piece would be that of his 'mAnasIga' guru Shri M D Ramanathan. He talked briefly about the two gurus' personalities - outgoing one of Dr. M Balamuralikrishna and an inward looking one of Shri MDR. He also mentioned that it could be seen in how Dr M BMK used to highlight and enjoy singing his mudra "Murali", or even the word "Murali" in others' compositions. Meanwhile one could figure out a song composed and rendered by Shri MDR through his 'swallowing' the mudra 'varada dAsa' (as though being a bit embarrassed to sing the same) as his own composition. Prince Rama Varma also highlighted that the piece, janani natajana pAlini, included the phrase 'Adi varada dAsa' meaning 'first of Tiger Varadachariar's disciples'. He mentioned that Shri MDR had written the compositions in Thamizh, Malayalam, Sanskrit and Telugu in the respective scripts only, in the many notebooks!
The song, neraval and kalpanaswarams were excellent and fit both for the grandeur of the rAgam as well as the choice of it being the main item. Again, at various points of the song, he showed the facial expressions and actions fitting to the lyrics - can say like a dancer would express the meaning using abhinayA! The main item included a tani avartanam by Shri Harikumar, which was kept in line with the tone of the concert - polished and soft, presenting all the combinations. Of course, towards the end of it, the exhuberance did creep in with the exhilaration of the finish, but that is bound to happen in a tani avartanam. Surprisingly not many left the concert at the beginning of the tani avartanam (around 8 PM). Of course, some Mylapore mamis and mamas had to leave at their respective timings of 7:30, 7:40 and 7:45. Many have their own schedules or they have even older relatives to take care of at home (as per the explanations they give to their friends who showed questioning faces or raised eyebrows).
Next, Prince Rama Varma pointed to Shri Harikumar, as he started with "Hari", in singing Maharaja Swati Tirunal's rAgamAlika composition 'japata japata Hari'. The rAgamAlikA is in rAgams mAnD, nIlamani, beHAg and sindhubhairavi. An upload in YouTube is available. He also announced to the audience, who he may have noticed were in a dilemma whether to leave, that he would only take about 15 minutes and finish by 8:30 PM and they need not worry about the delay in dinner.
It was very nice of him to explain the next medley of a 'siddar pADal' - 'nandavanattil OrAnDi', its meaning, its inner-meaning and that he would include the maguDi also in the medley. He started by singing the tune as swarams first before singing the pADal, and then presented in second tempo too. Smoothly he switched to the magudi notes before he finished with a flourish. Coming back to the full lyrics - 'nandavattil OrAnDi; avan nAlAru mAsamAy kuyavanai vEnDi; koNDu vandAn oru thONDi; adai kUttADi tUttADi pOTTuDaittAnDi' - is quite obvious from the normal view. He explained a soul prays to the potter & that nAlAru = 4 + 6 = 10 months, a soul waits for the body (a pot) and then the person proceeds to waste his/her life before breaking the pot (leaving the body). The story of life in just few lines!
The final part of the presentation was Shri T V Gopalakrishnan's tillAnA in beHAg. Prince Rama Varma thanked everyone stating that it was nice to perform in front of a beautiful audience and that he was performing only once more on 15th December at Arkay Convention Centre, for the Chennai season. I am surprised and sad to hear that he is not performing a few more times in this December Season. I do not know the schedule of the Prince, or the dynamics of our sabhas - but it is definitely a loss for Chennai if more of his concerts are not included for us. The youngsters can learn lot from his concerts, a lot about his guru Dr. M Balamuralikrishna and his repertoire, his 'mAnasIga' guru Shri MD Ramanathan's style and repertoire, etc., from this stalwart. Hope the sabha fraternity, organizers, sponsors and the various donors look into the possibility of getting Prince Rama Varma to perform more concerts here.

Prince Rama Varma is an accomplished Vainika also. The first Musiri Chamber Concert that I attended was that of his Veena recital in June 2014. Such a simple and unassuming gentleman, with ever smiling face.
Switching gears, it is indeed annoying to note that a simple etiquette of switching off mobile phones or turning on silent-mode is not being done by MANY people. Invariably, we have a dozen or more interruptions of the cell-phone rings. Luckily, it did not reach the ears of the people on the dais - however it is annoying for others nearby. Then there are some who want to take their phone calls (when in silent-mode) and walk across disturbing others in their row, go out any which time, and return any which time!
When a boy of 15 or 17 does it 3 or 4 times within 25 minutes, I wonder whether he is in touch with Shri Ambani or Shri Modi or even the big Shri Don Trump (not in this concert but on earlier day - wanted to ra(n)t in this report).
Some elders in the audience acknowledged the Prince's statement of the "beautiful audience", by loudly saying "see how he talks; did any one of the other artists so far say this about the audience; he has the good thoughts to express it to us; it is the thought that counts"! (etc)
In the past few concerts, I was wondering that all the neighbours' activities can disturb me less, if I closed my eyes and listened. It worked in brief spells in earlier concerts. I am glad that I did not do it for this concert - because then I would have missed all the abhinaya of Prince Rama Varma, which was a nice added dimension to the Carnatic concert. It was also great to feel the presence of Dr. M Balamuralikrishna in our midst indeed in the form of Prince Rama Varma's presentation.
DO NOT MISS if you get a chance to see the video of this concert - you will enjoy - the smile and abhinaya will stay with you for long time.

Sowkhya Sangeetham - Shri Vijay Siva at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan

(and mish-mash report)
Shri Vijay Siva never disappoints in providing a serene and exhilarating concert. It was one such on the Sunday morning (25 Nov 2018), where he was accompanied by the talented youngsters Shri L Ramakrishnan on violin, Shri Palghat Harinarayanan on Mridangam and Shri Sunil Kumar on Kanjira. I am sorry that I don't know the names of Shri Vijay Siva's two disciples who provided vocal support, as well as played the tambura.
Shri Vijay Siva did not include any gimmickery, just like any of his trademark concerts, while presenting an excellent compact traditional 2 hour carnatic concert. After a brief shlokam he began the concert with vandEHam jagat vallabham in Hamsadhvani. It set a brisk pace to the start with a few kalpana swarams also in the rendition.
HimAcala tanayE in Anandabhairavi was presented next. The soft rendering was soothing and set the stage for the rest of the sowkhya sangeetham. When he chose an AlApanA in sArangA next, I was anticipating the panca-bhUta kriti arunAcala nAdam. However, the phrases presented in the AlApana did not seem to indicate it - I wondered if it would be nIvADa nE gAna or enta bhAgyamu. It was a pleasant surprise to hear a rarely sung Thyagaraja kriti Emi dOva balkuma. This rendition included kalpana swarams in a relaxed gait.
A click from a different concert in 2017
Taking a diversion in this report, Shri Vijay Siva, unlike most musicians, does not give any gap between songs (unless accompanists need to fine-tune their instruments). Shri Sanjay Subrahmanyam also does not give more than those 3 to 5 seconds between songs, before commencing the next. This reminded me of comments on a lecture demonstration of the previous day (Saturday), where Shri Sriram Parasuram was talking of Nagaswaram Maestro T N Rajarathnam Pillai (at Raga Sudha Hall, as part of Parivadini series). In his opinion, the format of the thavil interludes in the AlApana of Nagaswaram not only gives a breather to the artists to recharge lungs, but also helps him/her make a fresh start on the AlApana. This format, suggested Shri Sriram, could also be followed in vocal concerts, to provide vocalist with a brief rest for him/her to provide an elaborate exploration of the rAgam. Only in the case of rAgam and tAnam before the pallavi, this "exchange" pattern is followed allowing for elaboration in this manner. It could be extended to other main AlApana and sub-main (as seems to be the current term) AlApana also.
Coming back to the concert, Shri Vijay Siva then started with just ta-nun-na (mandra stAyi ni-pa-sa??) to indicate, in just half-a-second, that the next rAgam would be kEdAram. Just brilliant to sing that quite unique and short phrase in the right manner. The knowledge, vidwat and experience comes out in such nuances. Again, I was hoping that he will take a panca-bhUta kriti - and he did not disappoint. His AlApana had indicated clearly that it was Ananda naTana prakAsham that was going to follow. kEdAram was presented in elaborate manner and the serene rendition of the Dikshitar kriti followed. As was expected, there was nice neraval at sangIta vAdya vinOda tAnDava, followed by kalpana swarams in brisk tempo.
The next item was a short vasantA rAgam song composed by Shri Papanasam Siva "mA dayai nidhiyenum". Then came the magnum opus in kharaHarapriyA.
We can say that the AlApana covered the entire scope of the rAgam. He presented most of it in a full throated manner and near the end, he switched to the gentle lilting soft vocalisation to give the "konjal" face of kharaHarapriyA. It was very moving indeed. Shri Ramakrishnan presented a good and compact version of this rAgam. In the end, Shri Vijay Siva sang some characteristic phrases from cakkani rAjA in the AlApanA, giving clear indication that the composition will be the one to follow. This composition was given the full treatment, including the expected neraval at kanTiki sundara. The kalpanaswarams also covered the entire facet of the rAgam followed by a brilliant tani avartanam. Shri Harinarayanan and Shri Sunil kumar thrilled the audience as well as the artists with their exchange.
Coming back to the lecture demonstration, Shri Sriram (on Saturday) had mentioned that some stalwarts (primarily Thanjavur Shri S Kalayanaraman?) had suggested that AlApanA of the vocalist can be for one rAgam, which need not be followed by an elaboration by violinist. Also, before another composition in the concert, the violinist can start and present the rAga AlApanA, while the vocalist follows it by the kriti. This seemed like a very good suggestion indeed. It is also interesting that if this is followed by some "non-conformist" in current decade, along with other radical ideas, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction of dissent from rasikas.
Shri Vijay Siva closed with "tOdudaya cevi" by Thirugnanasambandar, viruttam in nIlAmbarai, varALi and bhImplAs (or was it karnAta devagAndhAri), followed by yAdava nI bA yadukula nandana in that last rAgam and finishing with a kAvaDi cindu "centamizh nEDennum pOdinilE".
I wish that nature rained claps for this concert too, like it happened on 31st December, 2017, after his concert in West Mambalam - tippity-tap on the tin roof exactly during the mangalam, it was on that day. Chennai does need a lot of rain.

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Shri Vijay Siva - Sukha sangeetham at Rasika Fine Arts

As the last line of the Mangalam was sung, a brief drizzle tippity-tapped on the tin-roof, as though the Gods were clapping for the "sukha" sangeetam of Shri Vijay Siva. It was louder than the claps from the happy spectators.

Enjoyed the superb concert accompanied by Smt. Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, Shri N C Bharadwaj and Shri Krishna, at J G Hindu Vidyalaya school. This concert was for Rasika Fine Arts on the evening of 29th December, 2017 - a nice Friday evening treat.

Shri Vijay Siva, Smt Vijayalakshmi, Shri Bharadwaj and Shri Krishna
Shri Vijay Siva opened with a short shlokam in Kalyani, followed by a mellow Sujana Jeevana in Kamas ragam. The sweet piece set the tone for the evening. He took up an elaborate alapani of Rishabhapriya next. The ragam's unique rasa was brought out well, as expected from a stalwart like him. Smt Vijayalakshmi played a compact follow-up. Thyagaraja's Mahima tagginchuko kovayya (kindly excuse mistakes in transliteration, if any) was the kriti that was presented, with brief neraval and detail kalpana swarams included.

Next he sang a slow and relaxing O Jagadamba in Anandabhairavi, a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar. A short Shankarabharanam alapanai preceded Annai janaki vandale set to Misra chapu talam, Arunachala Kavi composition. With a quick tempo rendition of Paramukham enayya in Kharaharapriya (Papanasam Sivan composition), he set stage for the main song.

Saveri was taken up for the elaborate exploration, which was played well by Smt. Vijayalakshmi as well. Sri Rajagopala Bala, a Muthuswami Dikshitar krithi, was taken up. Full justice for the ragam was done with beautiful neraval and kalpana swarams, followed by a spirited tani avartanam between Shri Bharadwaj and Shri Krishna. Though the sound settings for the Mridangam was a constant trouble through entire concert for Shri N C Bharadwaj, the tani avartanam was in full flow. A separate post on "sound systems", "audio personnel", etc., will be posted later.

Standard pose during viruttams / Q&A
A viruttam in sevaral ragams followed next, ending with Behag as the last ragam, followed by Oruthi maganaai pirandhu in Behag. A bhajan on Vittala, with the cymbals (1 mandatory bhajan per concert seems to be his style) in Pahaadi (I am guessing, as it sounded like Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman's tillana in that ragam - and exchange of glances, with Smt. Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi makes me think it is right) was the penultimate piece.

The thiruppugazh, Marukkulaviya malaranai kodiyade valartta, set to Purvi kalyani rounded off the concert (tisra nadai rupaka talam). As mentioned above, the mangalam was about to be completed, when the claps started from the audience. However, a sudden louder clapping came from the drizzle on temporary tin-roof of the open-air pandhal. It seemed like the Gods themselves were applauding the concert. We were mighty pleased, for sure.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

C.Rajagopalachari’s introduction to Kavignar Kannadhasan's "Aezhu Swarangalukkul" - imagination

கற்பனை - திரு இராஜகோபாலாச்சாரி கவிஞர் கண்ணதாசனின் "ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களுக்குள்" பாடலுக்கு ஒரு அறிமுகம்
Shri Kavignar Kannadasan wrote a number of film songs sharing the learnings from his travails of life. He composed a number of songs to explain the lessons of life to reach the hearts of the common human. One of these songs is the famous "Aezhu Swarangalukkul".

If the knoweldge gained in one's life does not get transformed into Bhakti, such knowledge is useless tinsel. If Shri Kannadasan who went through turmoils as a very staunch atheist sang in his later years songs to develop devotion, it is enough to show that experience, knowledge and devotion are all the same.

Shri Kannadasan has packed into the "Aezhu Swarangalukkul" song: the substance of wordly life, and with help of Shri M S Viswanathan set it to melodious music.

ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களுக்குள் (aezhu swarangalukkul)

படம் - அபூர்வராகங்கள். FILM : ABOORVA RAAGANGAL.
இசை - எம்.எஸ்.விஸ்வநாதன். MUSIC : M. S. VISWANAATHAN.
பாடியவர் - வாணி ஜெயராம். SINGER : VAANI JEYARAM.

பல்லவி: ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களுக்குள் எத்தனை பாடல்
இதயச் சுரங்கத்துள் எத்தனை கேள்வி
காணும் மனிதருக்குள் எத்தனை சலனம் - வெறும்
கற்பனை சந்தோஷத்தில் அவரது கவனம்

Pallavi:aezhu svarangalukkul eththanai paadal
idhayach churangaththul eththanai kaelvi
kaanum manidharukkul eththanai salanam - verum
karpanai sandhoashaththil avanadhu gavanam

Meaning: How many songs in seven notes
How many questions in the tunnel that’s one’s heart?
How many disturbances in the people you see?
In empty imaginary pleasures lies his attention

சரணங்கள்:(1) காலை எழுந்தவுடன் நாளைய கேள்வி
அது கையில் கிடைத்த பின்னும் துடிக்குது ஆவி
ஏனென்ற கேள்வி ஒன்றே என்றைக்கும் தங்கும் - மனித
இன்பதுன்பம் எதிலும் கேள்விதான் மிஞ்சும்

மனித இன்பதுன்பம் எதிலும் கேள்விதான் மிஞ்சும்

Charanams:(1) kaalai ezhundhavudan naalaiya kaelvi
adhu kaiyil kidaiththa pinnum thudikkudhu aavi
aenenra kaelvi onrae enraikkum thangum - manidha
inbathunbam edhilum kaelvidhaan minjum

manidha inbathunbam edhilum kaelvidhaan minjum

Meaning: We wake up in the morning, with tomorrow's question
And even after we get it in our hands, the spirit beats
"Why?" is the question that stays on forever - in the human
joys and sorrows, any of them, only the question remains

(2) எனக்காக நீ அழுதால் இயற்கையில் நடக்கும்
நீ எனக்காக உணவு உண்ண எப்படி நடக்கும்
நமக்கென்று பூமியிலே கடமைகள் உண்டு - அதை
நமக்காக நம் கையால் செய்வது நன்று

அதை நமக்காக நம் கையால் செய்வது நன்று
(2) enakkaaga nee azhudhaal iyarkaiyil nadakkum
nee enakkaaga unavu unna eppadi nadakkum
namakkenru bhoomiyilae kadamaigal undu - adhai
namakkaaga nam kaiyaal seyvadhu nanru

adhai namakkaaga nam kaiyaal seyvadhu nanru

Meaning: You can cry on my behalf, it’s possible (in nature)
How can you eat for me?
We all have our duties to perform
It is best if we do them ourselves

(3) ஆரம்பத்தில் பிறப்பும் உன் கையில் இல்லை
இதில் அடுத்தடுத்த நடப்பும் உன் கையில் இல்லை
பாதை வகுத்த பின்பு பயந்தென்ன லாபம்
பாதை வகுத்த பின்பு பயந்தென்ன லாபம் - அதில்
பயணம் நடத்திவிடு மறைந்திடும் பாவம்

அதில் பயணம் நடத்திவிடு மறைந்திடும் பாவம்

(3) aarambaththil pirappum un kaiyil illai
idhil aduththaduththa nadappum un kaiyil illai
paadhai vaguththa pinbu bayandhenna laabam
paadhai vaguththa pinbu bayandhenna laabam - adhil
payanam nadaththividu maraindhidum paavam

adhil payanam nadaththividu maraindhidum paavam

Meaning: In the beginning, birth isn’t in your hands
Then one thing happens after another, that’s not in your hands either
Once you’ve decided on a path, what’s the point in getting scared
Walk that path and the sins will disappear
(Alternatelly, once the path has been paved, what is the point in getting scared
Walk the path and the karma will disappear)

(4) நாளைப் பொழுது என்றும் நமக்கென வாழ்க
அதை நடத்த ஒருவனுண்டு கோயிலில் காண்க
வேளை பிறக்கும் என்று நம்பிக்கை கொள்க
வேளை பிறக்கும் என்று நம்பிக்கை கொள்க
எந்த வேதனையும் மாறும் மேகத்தைப் போல

எந்த வேதனையும் மாறும் மேகத்தைப் போல

(4) naalaip pozhudhu enrum namakkena vaazhga
adhai nadaththa oruvanundu koayilil kaanga
vaelai pirakkum enru nambikkai kolga
vaelai pirakkum enru nambikkai kolga
endha vaedhanaiyum maarum maegaththaip poala

endha vaedhanaiyum maarum maegaththaip poala

Meaning: There’s tomorrow, live in the belief that it’s for us,
There’s someone to guide it, find Him in the temple
Believe that your time will come
Because every sorrow is like the shifting clouds

By yet another parrot who wishes to share the same history
of life's learnings again and again for the benefit of coming generations.
Nothing original above, except a bit of that introduction part.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Effortless and Serene - Shri Seshagopalan's Gokulashtami Concert

We had the good fortune of attending a very serene Carnatic music concert of Madurai Shri T N Seshagopalan at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on 22nd September, 2013, as part of the 58th Gokulashtami Sangeetha Utsavam. This concert, which went on for more than 3 hours, was quite traditional and presented in a very calm manner. There was no strain seen during the entire performance. The accompanists, Shri M Chandrasekaran on the violin, Shri Srimushman V Raja Rao on the Mridangam and Shri Vaikom Gopalakrishnan on the Ghatam, enjoyed the music of Shri Seshagopalan and formed a perfect team along with his son T N S Krishna giving supporting vocals.

Shri TNS Krishna giving vocal support to Shri T N Seshagopalan

Shri Seshagopalan took some time to warm up with the first two songs. Reetigowla alapanai followed by the Varnam "Vanajaksha" was the first item, followed by Shri Muthuswami Dikshitar's "Shankachakra gadha pani" in ragam Purnachandrika. The next ragam for elaboration was Pantuvarali. Though Shri Seshagopalan brought out lot of manodharma into this, it was quite effortless. When we compare the youngsters, we could see and feel the knowledge and experience flow naturally from this stalwart. "Sarasaksha paripalaya" was the piece in this ragam, which was followed by a slow and sedate rendition of "Ranganayakim" in the ragam Nayaki.

A good picture of ragam Varamu (also called Shuddha Hindolam) was the next chosen musical scale, followed by a brisk rendition of "Thunaipurindharul." The main piece for the day was a majestic Bhairavi. Classicism was seen all through the concert and improvisations in Bhairavi within this framework was very much appreciated by the audience and accompanists. A detail rendition of "Balagopala" followed, with nice neraval and extensive kalpana swarams reserved for this main piece. The thani avarthanam was a little shorter than expected from the two experts Shri Raja Rao and Shri Gopalakrishnan.

The concert ended with two tail-end pieces. Beginning with a ragamalikai vrittam in Saveri, Begada, Shubhapantuvarali and Rageshree, Shri Seshagopalan sang Soordas' "Krishna nama rasana" (set to Rageshree ragam). The final piece was the thillana beginning with "Nathrudeem thanana thom" in Sindhu Bhairavi.

Vrittam exposition in progress

Shri Chandrasekaran provided excellent elaborations of Pantuvarali, Bhairavi and the ragamalika follow-up for the vrittam. Shri T N S Krishna also sang a brief part of Shubhapantuvarali which was well appreciated. Shri Chandrasekaran was enjoying the improvisations more and played a 2nd string role only, compared to the abilities he has displayed in many concerts in the past. He was appreciating the manodharma of Shri Seshagopalan and wanted him to continue his concert at times without the separate alapanais for the violinist. Shri Seshagopalan gracefully declined and waited until Shri Chandrasekaran played out his role as well.

Nayaki, Varamu - have head these from Shri Seshagopalan more than couple of times - probably his favorites and so not surprising... What was surprising was the missing composition(s) of Harikesanallur Shri Muthiah Bhagavatar's, whose guru-sishya parampara Shri Seshagopalan belongs to.

It was a very fulfilling evening of classical and traditional concert music, performed very effortlessly. We guess that the 3-hour concert is not dead yet, provided the artists are given the time. December season concerts are restricted to 2 and half hours and we hope that more 3-hour concerts in all the other 11 months are available for our enjoyment in future too.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Ethereal Abhishek Raghuram

Sri Krishna Gana Sabha reverberated with Manodharmic music on 11th December, 2011. Master Abhishek Raghuram gave a Carnatic music vocal concert dripping with innovations in presentation. The interpretations of various ragams through aalapanais, neraval and swara prastharams were quite different and made the spectators enjoy, clap and even gasp at times.

Abhishek Raghuram's vocal concert at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha on 11 December, 2011

Abhishek was accompanied by Ms. Akkarai Subbulakshmi on the violin, Mr. R Krishnan on the Mridangam and Mr. G Guruprasanna on the Kanjira. The team really enjoyed performing and worked as a good team to enthrall the spectators.

Beginning with a short Kalyani Aalapani, Abhishek sang the varnam Vanajakshiro. This was a good warm up to the pieces that were going to follow. This was followed by a good elaboration of Chakravaham ragam, Subbulakshmi followed with a good aalapanai on the violin. The piece chosen for rendition was Gajananayutham in Adi talam composed by Mutthuswami Dikshitar. Abhishek then surprised everyone by taking the brisk Biraana Brova idhi for exploration, composed by Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer. Following the Kalyani varnam with another song in Kalyani within half an hour was a surprise, but there must be some logic to this selection, which we did not understand. In this song he explored Kalyani well, especially with Neraval and swaram.

Scintillating presentation of Dwijavanthi
Dwijavanthi ragam was next, where Manodharma was brought to the fore in full force. The detail presentation of the ragam explored nuances that many in the audience had not heard. There was very good appreciation from them for the rendition of rare korvais, which showed Abhisheks extraordinary grasp of this moving ragam. This was followed by Muthuswami Dikshitar's Chetta Sri Balakrishnam Bajeham, set to Roopaka talam, presented in an elaborate fashion as well. Nuances of Dwijavanthi were explored very well again.

Deva Devam Baje by Sri Annamacharya was taken as the faster piece to follow Chettha Sri. The style of this composition was different from what we have heard from Srimathi M S Subbulakshmi's classical rendition in Hindolam. It was beautifully composed and it added to the reasons that one should make it a point to attend his concerts and get into a different world of music altogether.

The main piece chosen for the concert was in Bilahari. The ragam exploration by Abhishek was exquisite and elaborate. He did justice to this ragam by covering the aalapanai in good detail. His neraval and swara prastharams for this main piece, Sri Chamundeswari Palayamam composed by Mysore Vasudevacharya, were superb too.  Having his laya training from his famous grandfather Palghat R Raghu, he gave variety of korvais in this song. The thani avarthanam that followed was relatively short compared to other concerts' main pieces, but well presented by Krishnan and Guruprasanna.

Concert progressing at good pace

As it was quite close to time for the next dance presentation at the hall, Abhishek sang a quick Thiruppugazh in Sindhu Bhairavi, before closing with the Mangalam.

Due to the manodharmic presentation, the accompanists were left to gape in awe & appreciation, and play a basic cycle at times. It does not mean that they were any less talented, but that Abhishek Raghuram has gone up to the next sphere. He can be considered to be in the same level as top artists in the current generation and hence had even been given a prime 4:30 PM spot in Sri Krishna Gana Sabha.

We look forward to many more scintillating performances from Abhishek in the tens of years to come.