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.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Musical Musings on Carnatic music kings

This blog is intended for musical musings on various concerts. I plan to blog about the realm of Carnatic musicians' performances in whichever sabhas I get to seem them at.

These are purely my personal opinions and not based on any objective view of performances nor do I claim any deep knowledge of all aspects of Carnatic music.

The intention would be to spread the news about great performances and give due credit to performers of this South Indian Classical music.