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.

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