Blast from the Past: Young Performer Review by Yessel

Published by YESSEL on Dec 2010 on Sangeethapriya Group

Dear sangIthaprEmis,
Sorry for the delayed post. Got held up with some official work(have to do occasionally!!).

Ok tracking back the concert of Ramakrishnamurthy's concert heard on Dec 21,10, let me call him RK. I know most of you would condemn me for the abbreviation, as RK refers to the legendary Ramnad Krishnan. Yes I intentionally call Ramakrishnamurthy as RK, reason being I wish he evolves as the newgen RK. Believe me RK shows a lot of promise.

For a youngster raised in California State USA what is expected doesn't show up and what showed up was not expected, atleast by me. He has had training in Carnatic music from many good teachers and now is under the guidance of Chingleput Sri. Ranganathan. I know you will wondering why I've mentioned training instead of learning. I strongly believe that RK has music genetically coded in him. I wish to stand by this statement. So RK would have been guided by his teachers like what Tiger Varadhachariar was supposed to had done to his disciples. RK has an immense crave for aesthetics.

Though he was incapacitated due to a bad throat, he never showed signs of compromise. Infact I had marked in my notepad a sruthi misalignment in the kEdAra classic rAmA nEpai which he sang as the 1st song of the concert. But then I realised his natural constrain. He could have canceled the concert if the situation was bad. But he spared us. He then ventured into a short crisp delineation of Anandha bhairavi, and started the Syama Sastri crafted Rolls Royce himAchala tanayubrO. My all time favourite rendition of this kriti is by Dr. S. Ramanathan and usually lend a deaf ear to other artistes. But RK slowly creeped inside my ear and settled in my thoughts. Here he showed signs of a fine amalgam of his training under Chingleput with his native grip over layam. The tempo is a very critical component in this genre of kritis, yes they are a separate genre.

What took me by surprise is the next song of the evening - emperor of the genre soundararAjam in brindavana sAranga. This kriti is on the lord of the temple at the shore town Nagapattinam in Tamilnadu. There are a lot of legends associated to this town in all the ramayana perspectives. I had been to this town and like Muthuswami Dikshithar have ogled at the temple structure. But unfortunately am not adept in any of his skills and talent to compose a kriti of this grandeur. But this town and the temple will inspire to sing. Visualise this kriti, you can see the waves gently caress the shore and roll back. My friend (yes the same person who was beside me during SS's concert) who knows my weakness for this kriti looked at me sitting 2 rows before and mimed to the effect 'unfair'. He did this because he knows that this one kriti if rendered well or to my satisfaction will get the artiste above 75% from me. I've DKP, TNS, TMT, SKR's version of this kriti. I have listed only those I like. Don't worry am not going to say that RK rendered it like one of them or better. Honestly RK's perfect layam accorded the kriti with perfect respect. I always have a strong conviction that rendering this kriti is no mean task. Particularly youngsters attempting this kriti should be encouraged provided they adhere to the pAdAntharam(the way in which it was taught). Why I say this? Its because rendering this kriti involves a phenomenal understanding of the composer, the mood he would have been while composing (its sort of evident in most of Dikshithar's kritis) and more importantly a perfect sustained tempo. RK did everything gracefully.

He sang a truly brilliant thOdi ragam. He sang dAsu kOvalEna. No adjectives for the kriti he rendered. You know why, just saying its a Thyagaraja kriti in thOdi suffices. No other composer has handled this rAga like Thyagaraja. My opinion if Thyaragaja has not composed in thOdi singers would have not attempted it at all. Musicologist in our group please throw some light on this. RK's neraval in this kriti should be mentioned specially here. I've mentioned many times about his layam. So am not saying about that but I've to mention something to justify my remark at the beginning - aesthetics. What to me is aesthetic singing? always having his/her weakness at the back of the mind and rendering with a sense of proportion. RK did exactly what I expected. His neraval was elaborate but not draggy. His swara singing was not just arithmetic combination of notes but very musical. So the bottom line is listen to RK on 27-Dec-2010-1:30:00 PM at The Mylapore Fine Arts Club.

Hold on I promised not to write about the accompanists as they are elders. M A Krishnaswamy made me break my vow. I've seen him being very lackadaisical at times but not accepted when accompanying juniors. Seniors should live up to the responsibility. Expected to hand hold but in the contrary MAK just went haywire, played just the scale not the thOdi rAga. I expected a better brindavana sAranga from the Parur cub. A very disappointing performance by MAK.

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