Friday, 29 April 2016

2016 Apr 27, 28 - Ramakrishnan Murthy - Double Header @ Bangalore

2016 Apr 27 RamakrishnanMurthy CharumathiRaghuraman AnanthaRKrishnan Guruprasanna @  Seshadripuram




Courtesy: poor lighting arrangements on stage !


01 vanajAkSi ninne kalyANi varNa aTa PSI

02 tuLasi daLamula chE mAyAmALavagowLa rUpaka thyAgarAja (N, S)
nerval @ sarasIruha punnAga

03 idu bhAgya idu bhAgya bilahari Adi p.dAsa (A, N, S)

04 mAyammA eni nI pilachithE Ahiri Adhi shyAmA shAsthri

05 brOva bhAramA raghurAmA bahudAri Adi tyAgarAja

06 mAmava paTTAbhi rAma maNirangu M Eka m.dIkshitar (A, S, T)

07 rAga tAna pallavi pUrvikalyANi , MiSra tripuTa ( 11beats , 44 akshara) (T)
Pallavi Line: daSharatha bAla rAmachandrayyA dayAnidhE

08 viruttum

09 rAmanai taruvAi sindubhairavi aruNAcala kavi

10 vanga kaDal kaDainda tiruppAvai suraTi rUpaka ANDAL


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
2016 Apr 28 Ramakrishnan Murthy BU Ganesh Prasad V Praveen Guruprasanna @ SRSM



























01 shlOka 

a. sadguru gajAsya vANi..(in kAmbOdhi)
b. brahmAnandam prama sukha.. (in aTANA)
followed by brihaspathe aTANA tiSra tripuTa m.dIkshitar

02 evaranI nirNayinchi dhEvAmruthavarshiNi Adi thyAgarAja (S)

swara @ evarani

03 kanakana ruchirA varALi Adhi thyAgarAja (A, S)

swara @ kAminchi

04 parAkEla nannu paripAlimpa murari sOdari amba kEdAragauLa Adi shyAmA shAsthri


05 nI Bhajana gAna nAyaki Adhi thyAgarAja (S)


06 pOgAdiralO rangA shankarAbaraNa k.cApu p.dAsa (A, N, S, T)


07 viruttum (vAme bhUmisutA..)
rAgamAlike in tODi , bEgaDe

08 brochEva revarura kamAs mysore vasudevachar


09 haridAsulu vEDalE yamunAkalyANi Adi thyAgarAja


10 nInyAko ninna hangyAko RMK in janjhUTi punnAgavarALi nAdanAmakriya Sindhubhairavi Adhi p.dhAsa


11 rAmachandrAya janaka mangaLam kuranji bhadrAcala rAmadas followed by

mangalam kOsalEndrAya

Concert Experience

Indian classical music thrives on the inherent tension between the old and new. The art form and its grammar are fairly hoary (even if you don't go back all the way to the sAma vEda, the modern form of the music itself is at least a couple of centuries old - the time of the Trinity). However, each performance is in-situ and in the current moment. 

The challenge for any performer to create something new and unique everytime s/he steps on the stage, while maintaining the link to the base grammar.

Vidwan Ramakrishnan Murthy (referred to as RKM here-on) is one of the most exciting young talents in our art form. To me, what distinguishes him from most of his contemporaries is his focus on rakti rAgas, wherein most other young singers seem taken in with the scalar ragas like kiravANI, latAngI or the multitude of aUDavA ragas that abound our rAga landscape. This also reflects in his more relaxed kAlapramANa as against the thrill of speed that seems to catch most other youngsters' fancy.

The evidence of this was on full display across the two days - the choice of rAgAs seemed a throwback to a time long gone. Also, he took up two purandaradAsa compositions as main pieces on both days - my usual carp has been that the pitAmahA's music has been usually relegated to fast fillers and the tukkaDA section!

On day 1 (27 Apr), we had bilaharI, maNirangu and pUrvikalyANI as the main rAgAs that were elaborated. Even the shortened pieces were in mAyAmALavagAULA, AhirI and bahudArI.

It's been a long time since I heard an elaboration of bilaharI, and it was a very pleasant experience to say the least. The kritI was new for me at least - a purandaradAsa pada in khandachApu, very reminiscent of tOLi janma and paridAnamicchitE. Elaborate neraval was also done in the charaNa.

maNirangu was taken up for elaboration, followed by mAmava paTTAbhirAmA - the only regret was that that neraval was not taken up - he seemed to halt at navaratna maNTapE as if deciding whether to launch into neraval but sadly decided against it. Otherwise, a classical rendition, followed by what was to be the first of the two tanI AvartanEs of the day.

pUrvikalyANI was chosen for RTP. The pallavI sahitya (daSharatha bAla rAmachandrayyA dayAnidhE) is quite an old one, and it was presented in miShra triputA. After the rAgamAlikA swara prasthAra, a second tanI AvartanE was taken up. In PK rtp when he took ragamalika swaras, a garland of 5 to 6 ragas with one round each and, the concluding round was continuous rendition of all six ragas in returning order ending with PK was good, of course if his voice had cooperated it would have  been a grand rtp

The concert was wound down with a soothing shlOka in kApI, hamsAnandI and sindhubhAiravI, followed by aruNAchala kavirAyars composition. ANDAL's tiruppAvai - vanga kaDal kaDainda in suruTI was the final piece, flowing into maNgaLam kOsalEndrAya.

The accompanists were exceptional - the tone of the violin and the mridangam need to made special mention of.

- - - - - - - - -  
The second concert at SRSM was an equally grand affair, with the two main rAgAs being varALI and ShankarAbharaNam.

He started off with two ShlOkAs, on vinAyakA and brihaspatI, followed by brihaspatE as the vara kriti for the day.

After a brisk evaraNI, he settled into the first big AlApanE of the day and a grand varALI it was. He then surprised the audience further by taking up kana kana ruchirA and went on to do neraval and swara prasthArA at kaminchI prEma mIra. Its been a long while since I heard a pancharatna kriti being taken up for elaboration in this manner - the last was TMK a few years back with jagadAnanda kArakA. Of course, the unique MDR would take up these grand pieces for elaboration, particularly endarO mahAnubhAvulU.

The main rAgA for the day was ShankarAbharaNa, and pOgadiralO rangA of purandaradAsA was taken up. I have heard two versions of this from the past masters - one from MLV and another from KVN. RKM's rendition followed the KVN paThAntarA.

After the ShlOkA (vAmE bhUmi sutA) which he finished with khamAs, he moved on to brochEvarevarurA.

haridAsulu veDalE and nInyAko ninna hangyAkO brought the concert towards closure, and he closed with bhadrAchala rAmadAsA's mangalam - rAmachandrAya jankajA manOharAya, and finally mangaLam kOsalEndrAya.

While the quality of music was as usual of the highest order in both concerts, RKM's voice is somehow showing some signs of strain. While there were no lapses in Shruti, he seemed to be making more of an effort than his usual carefree style. Hope it is a temporary occurrence (as they say in Cricket - form is temporary, but the class is permanent), and not due to overuse or something else that could lead to long term damage.

These 2 concerts have ensured my guaranteed attendance to RKM when he visits next to Bangalore in August 2016.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

2016 Apr 23 24th Malladi Brothers - Double Header @ Bangalore


2016 Apr 23 MalladiBrothers - EmbarKannan - KVPrasad - GiridharUdupa @ SRSM

01 vADE venkaTAdri vasantA Adi Annamacharya (O S) 
Swara @ vADe venkaTAdri 

02 sItA lakshmaNa sahitam aTANA Adi thyAgarAja

03 dinamaNi vamsha harikAmbhOji Adi tyAgarAja (S) 
Swara @ 

04 kanjadaLAya tAkSi kAmAkSi kamalamanOhari m.dIkshitar

05 bhajana sEyarAdhA dharmavathi mysore vAsudEvAchAr (A N S)
Nereval @ .. paramAtmuni bhaktapAluni niravadhi sukhadAyakuni

06 nI cittamu niscalamu dhanyAsi cApu thyAgarAja (O)

07 mAkElarA vichAramu ravichandhrike Adhi thyAgarAja

08 rAga tAna pallavi shaNkarAbharaNa (R T P T)
pallavi Line: srI raghuraAM atAraja nAma pAhi mAm .. sIta manObhi rAma
ChaturaSra tripuTa 2 kaLai, Edupu - 1 beat after samam

09 mithri bhAgyamE soumithri bhAgyamE kharaharapriya Adhi thyAgarAja

10 rAma rAma rAma sItA rAma ennirO  tillAng purandhara dhAsa

11 gOvinda sundara mOhana dwijAvanthi mChApu bhadrAchala rAmdAs (Outline as swaras. .)

12 E tirugananu nAdanamakriya Adi Ramadasu

13 patiki hAratIrE sItApatiki hAratIrE suraTiAdi tyAgarAja




2016 Apr 24 Malladi Brothers CharulathaRamanujam, TumakuruRavishankar OmkarGRao @ Seshadripuram

01 rAmA ninnE nammi nAnura husEni tyAgarAja (O S) 

Swara @ rAma 

02 kshitijA ramaNam dEvagAndhAri Adi m.dhIkshitar  (A)

03 AragimpavE pAlAragimpavE tODi rUpaka tyAgarAja (A N S) 
Nereval @  sAramaina divyAnnamu

04 nannu brOva mani cheppave kalyANi bhadracala rAmadAs (O)

05 nI madi callaga anandabhairavi kavi mAtrbhUtayya ( A S  )
Swara @ OmkAri 

06 entha muddO entha sogasu bindumAlini Adhi thyAgarAja

07 mari mari vacUna kAmbOji Adhi mysUru vAsudEvAchArya ( A N S T ) 
Nereval @ rAmuni mahimane pogaDutu 

08 krishNam kalaya sakhi sundharam mukhAri Adhi nArAyaNa thIrTha

09 rAma mantrava japisO jOnpuri Adhi purandara dAsa

10 rAma nAma mukunda mAdhava junjhUTi Yogi KaivAra nArAyaNa

11 kandarpa janaka namO namO Valaji (Tuned by Voleti) aNNammAchArya

12 jAnaki ramaNa dasharatha nandana kApi Adhi jIr swAmi

13 viruttum in kEdAragaULa hindOLa mOhana sindhubhairavi
vaidEhi sahitam sumadruma tale. ..  in kEdAragauLa.

Madhye pustakAmasane. . In Hindola

AgrE vAchayati prabhanjana sutE. .mOhana 

VyAkAntham bharata. . Sindhubhairavi 

14 bhajarE srI rAmam sindhubhairavi cHapu Bhadrachala Ramadas

15 nI nAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja


Combined experience: 

Is a target audience indeed the best judge of what is "right" for them? Henry Ford was a strong opponent of this idea; he is famously said to have said that if he had taken inputs from his consumers, he would have "designed" a faster horse, and not a car! 

So, where does a performer in the creative arts draw the line in terms of taking feedback or suggestions from his or her intended audience (in our world of Carnatic music, take requests?) Does taking requests from the audience constitute "playing to the gallery", or even more pejoratively "pandering to the lowest common denominator"? If so, is it always so or does it depend on what is being requested?

Several artistes both past and present have been labelled populist for keeping audience tastes in mind. But an artiste (most at least) draw their energy from the audience and the appreciation they get for their efforts. It is indeed a rare artiste who performs in a vacuum, insulated from the tastes of even a tiny part of the listening public, with no desire or need for appreciation. 

Most artistes would it appears like to strike a balance between creative freedom and audience choice. In several interviews, artistes have stated their appreciation for audiences who go beyond the obvious and ask the artiste for something more rare, something that is special to  but not frequently rendered by the performer, something that shows the audience is also doing its homework of thinking and making the artiste think in turn.

My experience with the Malladi Brothers has led to believe that they definitely belong to the group who are happy when their audiences make them dig into their reserves, for something old and precious - a long lost gem, a hidden treasure of their school.

Between my friends and me, we have had the opportunity to request them for specific compositions, and not only have they happily acquiesced each time, they have actually expressed their gratitude for being asked for these! (just for the record, in the past we had requested for muripemu galige in mukhAri, a detailed dhanyAsi and chintayamAm kanda mUla in bhAIravI).

Today we requested them for not one, but two compositions - AragimpavE in tODI and nannu brOva maNI cheppavE in kalyANI, and both were presented (tODI actually as the submain, with detailed AlApanE, neraval and swarams) and the kalyANI as a brisk piece with an outline AlApanE. Well to be completely transparent, we had requested three pieces (the third being kOrinavaramu in rAmapriyA, which was not rendered today) but that was just us being greedy :)

I am not intending this to be a review or even a detailed description of two back to back concerts in Bangalore that I attended. The factual part of the reporting is there in the songlists of the two days. These are more expressions of emotions and feelings over the two days.

The concert at the RSM on 23 Apr was tilted just that bit towards the brain than the heart - there was an elaborate dharmAvatI AlApanE followed by bhaja sEya rAdA, and an elaborate RTP in ShankarAbharaNam, the pallavI in khaNDa tripuTA 2-kaLAI, eDuppu at 1/2 beat after samam. The AlApanE and tAnam were full of viShrAntI, exploiting the madhya sthAyI gAndhAra to the fullest extent - the ShankarAbharaNa gAndhAra is to me a note of unmatched majesty. The pallavI neraval was alaborate, and 4 speeds were rendered (chAUka kAla, sama-kAla or madhyama kAla, tisra naDAI and durita kAla). Kalpana swaram and tanI followed this.

The complaint if any was that there only two real AlApanEs in the concert.

That was most certainly rectified in the concert at Seshadripuram on 24 Apr. There were as many as four detailed AlApanEs (devagAndhArI, tODI, AnandabhAIravI and kAmbOdhi, besides short outlines for husEnI and kalyANI. Only bindumAlinI (enta muddO, which was also an audience request item through a chit) among the pre-tanI items was sung without any preamble.

husEnI presaged the arrival of rAmA ninnE namminAnu with near certainty, and the devagAndhArI AlApanE somehow made me sure we were heading to Dikshitar's masterpiece (kShitijA ramaNam chintayE) and not one of so many Thyagaraja masterpieces (the tail piece finishing in kShitijA ramaNam was somehow very very reminiscent of the closing of the pallavi of kshIra sAgara ShayanA :)

Given that we had request AragimpavE and nannu brOva maNI cheppavE, the choices for the songs in tODI and kalyANI respectively was not surprising. A special word needs to be mentioned about the quality of the neraval in AragimpavE; knowing and internalizing the meaning of the sAhityA makes such a big difference to the freedom with which the neraval is rendered! The way the brothers kept appending the word AragimpavE after sAramAIna divAnnamu or ShaDrasayuta bhakShaNamulu made so much sense - it reflected the spirit of nAIvEdyam so well ("SharkarAnnam nivEdayAMI, mAShAbUpam nivEdayAMI, mahAnAIvEdyam nivEdayAMI" etc.!)

The kAmbOdhi AlApanE was also one of exceptional calm. kAmbOdhi as a rAgA of course has a wide scope from very aggressive, macho tones to very soft, pleading tones. The AlApanE presaged the spirit of the composition presented - the full piece was recited before being sung, just to give a flavour of the bhakti rasA that mysUru vAsudEvAchArya has imbued mari mari vacchunA with.

As can be seen from the list, a wide swathe of composers and pieces were presented in the closing phases, including a rAgamAlikA slOkam - vAIdEhIsahitam suradrumatalE hAImE mahAmaNDapE.

All in all, two days of very blissful music. The brothers were fortunate on both days in terms of the accompanists - sensitive shadowing, sound kalpanA from the violinists on both days, and equally sensitive percussion accompaniment. 

While a few had qualms about the sound system at SRSM, It was completely satisfactory to me (well .. that is the only part that is subjective in this whole post)

2016 Apr 23 MeghanaMoorthy VaibhvavRamani SachinPrakash - RTP Concert @ SRSM


Vocal: Vid. MeghanaMoorthy
Violin: Vid. VaibhvavRamani
Mridanga: Vid. SachinPrakash

01. rAga tAna pallavi - jyOthiswarUpiNi and nATTkuranji
chaturaSra tripuTa khaNda naDai 14 akshara after samam
Pallavi Line:  parama purusham dasharatha sutam sri rAmam... sadA bhajEham

02. jAnaki ramaNa dasharatha nandana kApi Adhi jIr swAmi

A Carnatic concert as a medium to achieve very diverse objectives - it can be an emotional journey that the artiste takes the audience with on; or it can be an intellectual challenge that the artiste throws to the audience to engage their brains. But occasionally, a concert resembles a spectator sport more than anything else. The audience is a passive stakeholder merely watching someone do something that is risky / dangerous and difficult to do - like watching someone put their head into a lion's mouth or wrestling with an alligator, or someone revving a mobike in the "well of death". What is common to examples the above? There is a possible adrenaline rush, you acknowledge the difficulty of the task, but their is no real lingering beauty to the activity you have witnessed. The thrill is very temporal.

Meghana's concert with the RTP in jyOtisvArUpiNI & nAtakurinjI in chatusra triputa khaNDA naDAI tala was a very similar exercise. You appreciated the artiste with undertaking a task that is very obviously difficult to execute, and come out of it with her head held high. But was it music that either touched you or challenged you intellectually? Personally - no. I could appreciate the difficulty in delivering an AlApanE, tAna and neraval in a rAgA like jyOtisvArupiNI which has no real character of its own - for me, it seems like a double raga, with nAsikAbhuShaNI as the pUrvAnga and ShaNmukhaprIyA as the uttarAngA. Yes - the challenge is in singing it without fulling into either of these across the full 7 notes of the scale, but once you acknowledge that, its kind of lived out its purpose.

Yes - there was a weighty nATakuranjI to add gravitas to the proceedings and to the young lady's credit, she did give a good account of herself and her tutelage in the rendering of nATakurinjI.

The pallavI could have had more going for it if it were a rAgAkshara pallavI (incorporating the names of the rAgAs in it) - that way, an arcane scale like jyOtisvArUpiNI for RTP would have had a clear purpose. Given the generic sAhityA of the pallavI, it could have been rendered in any rAgA from tODI to sarvaSrI (vidwan BMK's 3 note rAgA which goes Sa-Ma-Pa-Sa:Sa-Pa-Ma-Sa!).

However, youth is the time to challenge oneself to attempt things that seem unnecessarily difficult and serve no useful purpose to self-proclaimed more mature people. As George Mallory (the man who would have been the first to scale Mt Everest but for nature getting in the way) is reputed to have said when asked why he wanted to climb the Everest - "because it is there!". I can relate to situations of similar adrenaline rush that I experienced after picking up a new skill / a new vehicle !

As the concert picked up, audience rush (for the next concert) kept flowing in and on-board socialization in VIP class seats, did create a noisy atmosphere in the hall. The self proclaimed "Donors" claim to have moral rights over making noise while the very art they are sponsoring is being demonstrated. Meghana maintained her poise and composer over the entire length of the concert.

I wish Meghana all the very best on her journey in music - experiment, falter, pick yourself up and keep moving; these are steps that should give you confidence in your capability, but to finally connect with the audience, you have to layer the science of music with a thick coat of art, and that has to be a heart to heart connection.

Friday, 22 April 2016

2016 Apr 22 PattabhiramaPandit TKVRamanujacharyulu KUJayachandraRao GiridharUdupa @ Vani Shool


Vocal: Vid. Pattabhirama Pandit 
Violin: Vid. TKV Ramanujacharyulu 
Mridanga: Vid. KU Jayachandra 
GHata: Vid. Giridhar Udupa

Ocassion: 25th Ramanavami Music and Dance Festival @ Vani School, Basaveshwara Nagar, Bangalore

01 sarasUDa ninnE kOri sAvEri Adhi kotthavAsal venkatarAma iyer (O, S) 
Swara @ dAni pai 


02 rAga sudhA rasa pAnamu jEsi AndhOLika dhEshAdhi thyAgarAja

03 entarAni tanakenta pOni nI centa viDuvajAla harikAmbOdhi Adi tyAgarAja (A N S)
Nereval @ shEshuDu shivuniki  bhUshuDu lakshmaNa

04 gOpAlaka pAhimAm rEvagupthi tripuTa swAthi thirunAL (A S) 
Swara @ gOpAlaka pAhimAm anisham

05 ShObillu saptaswara jaganmOhini rUpaka thyAgarAja

06 nagumOmu ganalEni nAjAli telisi nannu brOvagarAdA AbhEri tyAgarAja (A S T)
Swara @ nagumOmu

and a long 15 mins VOT ( which should also be included as an item of the concert !!

07 kshIra sAgara shayana dhEvagAnDhAri Adhi thyAgarAja

08 ugabhOga (mOsa hOdenallO nAnu mOsahodEnallo)

09 nAnu mOsa hOdenallO shubhapantuvarALi Adi p.dAsa

10 bhAgyAda lakshmi bAramma madhyamAvati Adhi purandaradhAsa

2016 Apr 21 VijaySivaN CharumatiRaghuraman NManojSiva SKrishna @ SRSM


Collage



Vocal: Vid. VijaySivaN 
Violin: Vid. CharumatiRaghuraman 
Mridanga: Vid. NManojSiva 
Ghata: Vid. SKrishna


Occasion: 78th Sree Ramanavami Music Festival, Fort High School, Bangalore


01 sri mahA ganapathE Abhogi k.cApu n.s.rAmachandran (N S ) 
Nereval @ tAmarasa daLa nEtra 

02 chadram bhaja mAnasa asAvEri chaturashra maTTya M.dIkshitar

03 shrI jAlandharam AshrayAmyaham gambhIra nAta thriputa jayachAmarAja odeyar (A  CS N S )
Nereval @ srI jAnhavi dharam shankaram 

04 vinavE O manasa vivarambuna vivardhani rUpaka tyAgarAja

05 shloka 
bhaktApAya bhujanga-gAruDa-maNis trailOkya-rakshA-maNi: 
 gOpI-lOcana-cAtakAmbuda-maNis saundarya-mudrA-maNi:
ya: kAntA-maNi rukmiNI-ghana-kuca-dvandvaika-bhUshA-maNi:

 SrEyO dEva-SikhA-maNir diSatu nO gOpAla-cUDA-maNi: 
Source: http://www.ramanuja.org/sv/bhakti/archives/oct98/0038.html

followed by bAla gOpAla bhairavi Adi m.dIkshithar ( A N S T ) 
Nereval @ mANikya makuTadhara

06 tOli nEnu jEyu pUjA phalamu kOkiladhwani Adi tyAgarAja

07 rAga tAna pallavi pUrvikalyANi
tisra triputA miShra naDAI, with a 6/7 atIta eDuppu
Pallavi Line: Parama pAvana rAma. .  Papa vimochana 

08 taruNam IdammA ennai gauLipantu syAmA sAstri

09 viruttum oru kaalil Shangi .. oru kAlil chakkaram (virutum)
KAmbOdhi .. bEhAg. .kApi. .
followed by  jagadOddhArana kApi Adhi Purandara dhAsa

10 shivagangA nagara punnAgvarALi pApanAsam sivan

11  koi kaheyare prabhu mira bhajan

12 noTTuswara (sujana hrud kamala sarOvara sadanA)

13 nI nAma rUpamulaku mangaLa sourAshtra Adhi thyAgarAja

The concept of bANI or school has been one to raise heated discussions in the rasikA circles. From the time of veranda conversations to today's age of internet chat forums, people have near come to blows defending the concept of "artistic purity" and "torch bearers", and the self-perceived superiority of the style of their preferred artiste(s). But then come along some artistes, combining intellect and musical refinement in equal part, to prove that it is possible to incorporate the best from different styles without in any manner compromising their basic grounding in any one school.

That Sri Vijay Siva is a vidwan of the highest order in not merely stating the obvious; it is a completely superfluous statement. His training under Smt D K Pattammal and earlier under her brother Sri D K Jayaraman would have been sufficient for a lifetime of superior concert performance, but it is the mark of one who belongs to a different league from the rat race to constantly seek out the best anywhere he can find it. Credit for this attitude needs also go to his great gurus who must have encouraged him to seek the best from everywhere, and not tie him down in their own their own sense of "pAThantarA", however sound it was. Today's concert was redolent with the fragrance of the great GNB's school, and more specifically that of his prime disciple, Smt MLV - in conceptualization, in content, in delivery and lastly in the sense of thrill it left we rasikAs with!

Bear with me for this is going to be a long one....

VS (I'm going to use this short form not for any familiarity with or disrespect for the artiste, but for typing convenience!) started of with his favourite opening SlOka from the subrahmaNya bhujangam. Not elaborated, but truly as a prayer. Even before that, it was less than 3-5 mins of mic setup to deliver a stellar performance. When nAdayOgi is seated on the stage, all the systems fell in place to make it even better.

He then stepped straight in MLV territory with one her popular vinAyakA kritis - srI mahA gaNapathe in Abhogi of N S Ramachandran. The brisk kAlapramANa with the natural jauntiness of khaNDa chApu set the tone straightaway for what promised already to be a cracker of a concert. A nice surprise awaited here - neraval straight up for tAmarasa daLa nEtra, and that brought with it the added element of swarAkShara poruttam for the kalpanA swarams. The blending of the swarAs with the sAhityA at the Dha-Ma phrase made Abhogi shine with its unique lustre.

The next surprise was chandram bhaja mAnasa - and you had people looking around a bit lost! Here we were looking forward to the weekend in a day, and were suddenly confused that Monday was upon us already! Did we not realize that the weekend had passed us by in the musical flood of the rAma navamI concerts in Bangalore? No - then you realized with a sigh of relief that this was to mark the paurNamI chandrA, when you can see the grey hare "ShaSha" in its entirety in the "dhavaLa prakaSha", and why he is therefore "ShaShAnka".

The MLV motif made a return with strong notes of gambhIra nATTa in the first AlApanE of the evening. The opening was so reminiscent of the mallarI that a more poetic man than me would say immediately brought to the mind the image of an utsava mUrti starting off on his or her stately journey around the temple prakAra. Prof SRJ hypothesized that gambhIra nATTa is probably the first pentatonic scale devised by mankind, with a consistent relation of fifths between its notes (sA-pA, ma-sA, gA-nI) for a high degree of innate consonance within the rAgA. Be as it may, it has a sense of the primordial about it, but carries within it the inherent risk of transgression to a different rAgA if the artistes are not careful enough when sweeping through it, for it shines best in brikAs. At least three other reasonably common rAgAs (jaganmOhinI, (kamalA) manOharI and tillAng) share their ArOhaNA completely and are different only in one note each in the avarOhaNA - but no worries, both VS and CR (Charumathi Raghuraman) strode the rAga with nonchalance and there was never any doubt about what it was. mysUru mahArAjA's magnum opus srI jAlandharam AShrayAmaham arrived in all its royal glory. A second but more elaborate neraval awaited at srI jAhnavI dharam Shankaram, and the ShaShAnka was safely deposited on ShankarA's maULI, with the neraval line finishing at ShaShidharam. No kalpana swarAs followed though.

In a nod to his guru DKJ, vinavE O manasA in vivardhinI was rendered as a filler. My first memory of this song is from an AVM recording of Sri DKJ rendering it in his concert at the Music Academy in 1990, the year he got his sangIta kalAnidhI.

The majestic opening notes of bhAiravI! It never fails to give me goosebumps. Grand AlApanE for the main piece of the day. It would be hyperbole to say the full scope of bhAIravI was exhausted, but you did not come away thinking there was anything lacking in it. Yes, it could have gone on for a bit longer (or a lot longer actually), but I guess proportioning time well is one of the trammels of the concert stage, or to put a more positive spin on it - this is katchErI dharmA! A word must be mentioned of the quality of accompaniment; again of the highest order, be in the quality of the music or the sound production, or indeed her own sense of proportion. CR did not merely repeat what VS sang, but gave it her own touch while highlighting the salient points from what VS sang, fully reflective of her guru Sri TNK. 

By then, the guessing game had started in my mind - what kritI was it going to be? One of the school specialties - nI pAdamUlE, sArI evvarammA, rakSha bETTarE, chintayamAM kanda mUla or one of tyagarAjA's other masterpieces on rAmA? 

The first inkling of that came when he started a brief slOka from the mukunda mAlA after CR had finished her AlApanE - bhaktApAya bhujanga-gAruDa-maNihi - grand poetic words to match the grandeur of the bhAIravI on display thus far. And yes, it turned out to be the grandest of kritIs (so I discount viribOnI and ambA kAmakshI on that technicality!) - dikShitar's signature composition where the guruguhA unambiguously states his musical credentials as a vAINika-gAyaKa - bala gOpAla (oh btw, we were back in GNB's dominions :)

Then VS pulled another arrow from the GNB quiver. Neraval at nIla nIrada SharIra was already dancing in my head, but VS passed that by without stopping to pause for elaboration and I was wondering if this is going to be another victim of the shortage of time? VS had other plans - he picked up mANikya makuTa hAra valaya dhara for neraval, much as GNB had bypassed the much expected neraval at vAsvAdi sakala dEva in long gone era, and stunned everyone with neraval at tApatraya nipuNa. And the similarity of choice doesn't end there - the swarakShara poruttam of tApatraya was manifested here as mANIkya, with the added consonance of fourths between mA and nI. The neraval and swaraprasthara left me with a feeling, which if I have to describe, I need to take recourse to the words of a man who had a live vision of bAlagOpAlA at gurugayUr in front of him "agrE paShyAmi" - the one and only nArAyaNa bhaTTAdrI. His words on the experience - "pIyUShApLAvitOham! - I am drenched in this nectar", as were we in the nectar of this bhAIravI today.

An apt length tanI AvartanE followed. Both Manoj Siva and SKrishna played out a tanI of virtuosity, at the same time having brilliant nAdam. It was certainly not a cacophony of unbridled volume that is so often the case, but it was their opportunity to show their skills after having played very sensitively as accompaniment, and they made full use of the opportunity. It had one of the best decibel balance in this season that I have come across. (For all statisticians out there - today was my 13th concert on the trot in this season)

A short filler in the form of tOli nEnu jEyu in kOkiladhwanI followed, with the promise of a short pallavI imminent. 

And yet again, my mind started playing guessing games about the rAgA of the RTP. I was debating between kalyANI and pUrvikalyaNI as we did not see an M2 till now. VS put my anxiety to rest - pUrvikalyaNI it was to be. The available time meant that the AlApanE and tAna would necessarily be short, and so was - just one round each. To map it to the GNB format of the four stage AlApanE for RTPs, this was just the first one - where he showcased the full contours of the rAgA - "like a picture frame", as the late LGJ described this stage of GNB's AlApanE.

The pallavi was not one of simplicity in structure. The words were simple enough, borrowing from Poochi Srinivasier - parama pAvana rAmA, pApa vimOchana rAmA. It was the tALA structure that had me stumped for a while. After some desperate akSharA counting, I landed up at 49 akSharAs - which could only be done as 7x7. And with some sneaking at VS's hands, I figured it was tisra triputA miShra naDAI, with a 6/7 atIta eDuppu to boot. (Thanks to a friend of mine, who is helping me to understand the rhythm aspects better)

No less a pallavi exponent than the late TRS had said in a lecdem that the class of a pallavI exposition is established not by doing trikAlam in a complicated tALA (which according to him was "undergraduate stuff"; I shudder to think what a high bar he set for his poor undergraduate students at Delhi University!), but in the "grandeur of the neraval". By that yardstick, this was a GRAND pallavi alright. Not that trikAlam was not done - that made its way in too! And that reminded me of the words of another pallavi doyenne - VS's guru DKP. When asked how she focused on keeping time for such complicated tALAs, she said she didn't! "I focus on the music - the tALA will automatically fall in place!", and it did today too... what looks like magic to us mere mortals is innate for them, I guess!

After the trikAlam, swarAs were rendered first in the sama kAla, then in second speed for sama kAla pallavi. Then he switched to second speed in the pallavi, maintaining the arudi rather than the eDuppu (I always this more appealing for second speed in the pallavi) and rendered another round of second speed swarAs for this revised eDuppu. rAgamAlika swarAs were not rendered.

taruNam Idamma came and went in a flash when we were still lost in the pUrvIkalyaNI. I've always wondered how the artistes move on from a rAgA like this so easily when we as merely the recipients are still stuck in the previous one. Professional training and discipline maybe.

VS chose a verse from periyAzhvAr's tirumozhi for viruttam - oru kAlil Shangu oru kAlil chakkaram. The aesthetic sensibilities of the artiste were on full display here. He started with an expansive, masculine kAmbOdhI, with a focus on ascending notes, well into the uttarAngA - you could almost imagine the trivikrama svarUpA of the Lord, with a leg raised skyward, the uLagalanda perumAn to show you the Shangu & chakkaram on his feet. But he sensitively stopped the aggressive kAmbOdhi before the description in the verse moves to the child form of the Lord.

The part where taLar naDAI naDavAnO (a baby's tottering gait) come in were rendered in the softer tones of behAg and kApI - of course the full verse was rendered in these two rAgAs also, but now you could only imagine what periyAzhvAr was describing all along - the baby krishNa, walking with an unsteady gait and leaving imprints of the Shangu & chakkaram within his footsteps.

kApI then segued into a caressing, cajoling jagadodhAraNA, sung at leisure.

Papanasam Sivan's Shiva gangA nagara nivAsinI in punnAgavarALI followed that, and we regretfully realized that this experience was slowly but surely moving to a conclusion.

A mIra bhajan in a rAgA of the malhAr family was next, describing the longing of the devotee for the lord in the monsoon.

A piece starting with the words sujana hrud kamala sarOvara sadanA was next, set in the varNa mettu of the Indian National Anthem, followed by pavamAna.

There are concerts where you have a thrill when hearing it live, but it quickly fades out of memory as soon as you start the next one, and there are those that stay with you for life. Given that I can still hear in my heart that bhAIravI, and that gambhIra nATTa, and that pUrvikalyANI, and that kAmbOdhi in the viruttam after a night's sleep make me believe this is going to be one of the latter. You just had to be there! With sparse audience, it was an added bonus to listen from the front rows.

Had I yesterday night, connected myself to an ECG machine, a cardiologist would have suggested me to get admitted to hospital for the number of heartbeats I would have skipped yesterday night reminiscing the concert that just concluded.

Edits:
1. It was the shortest VOT that I have witnessed till date. Less than 2 mins to honour artiste and sponsors after tani. The mood was not lost .

Thursday, 21 April 2016

2016 Apr 20 TrichurBrothers MullavasalGChandramouli TrichurRMohan VenkatasubramaniyamDV @ sEshAdripuram








Vocal: Vid. TrichurBrothers
Violin: Vid. MullavasalGChandramouli 
Mridanga: Vid. TrichurRMohan 
Ghata: Vid. VenkatasubramaniyamDV

Occasion: 68th Ramanavami Music Festival @ Seshadripuram, Bangalore


01 siddhi VinAyakam shaNmukhapriya rUpakA m.dhIkshithar (S) 
Swara@ siddi vinayakam

02 nannu viDachi kadhalaku rA rIthigowLa chApu thyAgarAja (O) 

03 AnandAmrtakarSiNi amrtavarSaNi amrtavarshiNi Adi m.dIkshitar (A, S) 
Swara @ AnandAmrithakarshiNi 

04 lakshmI kAntA bArO mOhana Adi p.dAsa (O)

05 rAma kathA sudhArasa madhyamAvati Adi tyAgarAja (A, N, T)
Nereval @ bhAma maNi jAnaki soumitri  , 2 speeds

06 rAga tAna pallavi bEhAg, ChaturaSra TripuTa 2 kaLAi
Pallavi Line:  VAraNAsi purapathim bhaje Viswanatham 
rAgamAlika in nereval : sAvEri, rEvati, bEgaDe, HindOLa
rAgamAlika in swarAs : HindOLa, ?? , Valaji ?,  dEsh, kApi, Sindhubhairavi, ?? , ??, hamsAnandi,  and few more...

07 gOvinda dAmOdara mAdhavEti bhajan

08 jagadOddhArana kApi Adhi Purandara dhAsa

09 shlOka - (sri rAghavam raghukulA)
followed by pibarE rAmarasan Ahirbhairavi sadhashiva brahmEndrar 

10 rAmachandrAya janaka mangaLam kuranji bhadrAcala rAmadas


Today was the second consecutive day that I went to hear the Trichur Brothers as part of the Rama Navami festival season. (Yesterday's review is here). It was a repeat performance with the same team as yesterday.

My hopes from yesterday's review were not belied; there were three AlApanEs and two neravals today. Their practice of singing / humming a brief outline of the rAgA for each piece was of course still continued. 

Yet again, Kamalaptakula made an entry as part of the mic testing! I really must urge the brothers to sing this song fully at the next available opportunity in Bangalore. 

The proceedings started with dIkshitar's siddhi vinAyakam in chAmaram. Brisk rendition, with swaras at siddhi vinAyakam, then at vinAyAkam and finally at prasiddha gaNanAyakam. The poruttam at vinAyakam was particularly interesting. 

Nannu viDachi of tyAgarAja was rendered next, without much manOdharmA embellishments, letting the composition's beauty speak for itself. 

amritavaShinI was the first AlApanE of the day, sung with the requisite level of aggression. dIkshitar's AnandAmritakarShinI was an apt choice; given the heat wave that Bangalore has been reeling under, some rain showers would be really welcome! (Read an interesting blog from my friend on this particular rAga here) My only quibble with this piece was that the swara prasthAra stretched beyond a limit of satiation, and the tisra naDai prasthAra ending at harAdi pUjitE was a bit contrived and not very elegant. 

lakShmikAntA bArO of purandaradAsa was next up, as a filler. (Need confirmation from fellow rasikAs on this raga; had a lot of shades of ShuddhaKalyAn - think Rasika Balma of Lata Mageshkar - fleeting touches of Ni and Ma in the avarOhaNa, but not strong enough to call it mOhanakalyANI)

The main for the day was madhyamAvati and the grand rAmA kathA sudhA. The AlApanE was detailed, but the normally conservative madhyamAvatI mAmI invited to the party her northern alter egos of the sArang family; both madhmAd and brindAvanI sArangs peeped in to have a dekko at the audience :) 

Neraval was done at bhAmA maNI jAnaki saumitrI - for me, one of the most musically evocative neraval spots across rAgAs and kritIs. To give the neraval it's due airtime, the brothers decided to dispense with kalpanA swarAs for this piece. Mixed reaction to that - given the disproportionate allocation to swara prasthArA by the artists usually, this was a wise choice in the interest of time management. However, this particular spot is so replete with possibilities that you autonomically missed "pa-ni-ma bhAmA"! As an aside, the late Lalgudi Jayaram talked about GNB's penchant for poruttam in swara prasthArA and how he (Lalgudi, I.e.) was introduced to this concept for the first time by GNB using exactly this example. 

A brief and succinct tani followed, with both the percussionists judiciously balancing percussive virtuosity with sunAdam. Not overdone, but not so brief as to be unfair either. 

For the second day running, a Hindustani rAgA was taken up for RTP - today it was behAg. However, given the much greater body of Carnatic kalpita sangItam available in behAg when compared to paTdIp, it was not surprising to see behAg garnished primarily with curry leaves rather than kasoori methi. This was much more rooted in the Carnatic idiom than the paTdIp AlApanE, be it the vocalization techniques used, the gamakAs employed or even the greater use of prati-madhyamA than is the norm in than the Hindustani original. And the neraval was done far more elaborately today - in fact, rAgamAlikA neraval was done before the kalpanA swarAs - the rAgamAlikA section was a long chain of short bursts of different rAgAs by the three melodic artistes. 

Though the chits started flowing, that Artists, decided to limit to 3 tail pieces. Started with a small shlOka - srI krishNa gOvinda hare murAre .. and drictly dwelled into gOvinda dAmOdara mAdhave te. Honouring the audience requests, they sang jagadOdhArana.  Pibare rAma rasam was preceded by a shlOka - shrI rAgahavam raghukulAnmaya rathnadIpam..

The concert finished with rAmachandrAya mangaLam. Small point for the brothers to consider - in the string of slokas they render at the end, there is an Anjaneya sloka (asAdhya sAdhaka svAmin) which they render as the penultimate one, before closing with Shriyat kAntAya kalyANa. The norm in pUja vidhi is to finish with a prayer to AnjanEyA - they may consider swapping the order of these two slokas. 

Once again a very good concert, but if I were forced to rank, I would say the Fort High School one was just that bit better!


Comparison goes further:
1. during paTdip RTP,  
ended paTdIp with Pa Ma Ga then switched to varALi then using Ga Ma switched over to bEhAg.
ni sa da in varALi.. and then Pa Pa onwards into sindhubhairavi

Switch from sindhubhairavi a hindustani raga to pure CM raga bilahari was a brilliant move. We could appreciate the entire mood change, inspite of not being sung it leisurely. Violinist played a kadanakutUhala before elaborating bilahari. Bilahari rAgamALika swaras were 100% ra ra venugOpala swaras.

This kind of flourish was not evident in today's concert. Too many rAgas in short span delivery. I was lost in the flood

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

2016 Apr 19 TrichurBrothers MullavasalGChandramouli TrichurRMohan VenkatasubramaniyamDV @ SRSM



Vocal: Vid. TrichurBrothers
Violin: Vid. MullavasalGChandramouli 
Mridanga: Vid. TrichurRMohan 
Ghata: VId. VenkatasubramaniyamDV

Occasion / Venue: 78th Ramanavami National Music Festival, Sree Ramaseva Mandali, Fort High School 

01 evari bOdhana vini abhOgi Adhi patNam subramhaNya iyer (S ) 
Swara @ MarubA

02 Sri mahAgaNapathiravatumAm gaULa misra cApu m.dIkshitar (O S ) 
Swara @ sri mahA gaNapathiravatumAm

03 mAmava paTTAbhi rAma maNirangu M Eka m.dIkshitar (O S ) 
Swara @ mAmava

04 shiva shiva shiva enarAdA kAmavardani Adhi tyAgarAja ( O, S )  
Swara @ shiva shiva ena rAda 

05 inta soukhya manInE kApi Adhi thyAgarAja( A N S T )
Nereval @ Swara rAga laya

06 raksha mAm sharaNAgatam gambIranATA / nATA ? Adi Bangalore Nataraj

07 rAga tAna pallavi  paTdIp
pallavi line: Venkata ramana Sankata harana gOvinda
rAgamAlika in : VarALi. .. desya behAg .. HindOLa. . Sindhubhairavi. .Bilahari. .

08 krishNA nI bEgane bArO yamuna kalyANi chApu vyAsa rAya (O)

09 abhANg   Anika dUsara madanAsi   misra shivaranjani

10 Omana tingaL KiDAvo navarOj malayALam lullaby

11 rAmachandrAya janaka mangaLam kuranji bhadrAcala rAmadas


The history of Carnatic music is replete with examples of siblings (some blood siblings, others siblings through the art) who are, not to put too fine a point on it, not exactly equals as performers; it is only with a generous stretch of imagination that you can think them as equally effective individual vocalists. In recent memory, the Malladi brothers are a notable exception to this observation.

The Trichur Bothers are another welcome addition to this set of exceptions. They truly share the load equally on stage. The voices blend beautifully, yet there are always two distinct voices that you can discern. And they use the different timbres to great effect by not always singing the same thing at the same time - at times, one is singing an octave lower than the other to add bass; at another, one is steadfastly holding the tAra sthAyi Shadjam while the other is executing some brighas. 

The Bothers presented yet another superb concert at the Sri Rama Seva Mandali on Tuesday. Right from the mic testing stage to the mangalam, there was no sag in the concert. The mic testing was quite interesting in itself - it included singing the Pallavi of Kamalaptakula (Brindavana Saranga) with some sangathis and a round of kalpana swarams to boot! Makes you wonder why they didn't continue the song - this beautiful tyAgarAja Kriti is such a rarely heard piece in comparison to the two Dikshitar masterpieces in the raga. 

Anyway, the concert proper started with the reliable Abhogi varNa, sung at a brisk kalapramana to set the pace for the rest of the concert. gauLa outline followed by sRI mahA gaNapathi ravathumAm continued the tempo. 

The vilamba / viSranti motif was introduced with mAmava paTTabhirAma - soaked in melody! My only wish is for it to have been even a tad slower, but that is personal taste. 

Briskness returned with pantuvarALI and Siva Siva Siva ena rAdA. The first major AlApanE followed this - kApI. Sung with weight and purely in the Carnatic idiom, and no traces of Kaafi (Adiga's filter coffee rather than a Lavazza :). As is their style, the bothers sung the AlApanE together exchanging phrases and building on each other's manOdharmA, egging each other on. Inta saukhya maNine followed with neraval and swara prasthara at swara rAga. Tani Avartana followed. After a brief first round, they dwelled into detailed essay of Adi tAla and later switching the naDai to enhance the tempo to cresendo before ending a short tani.

A Chembai favorite came next in the form of rakShamAm SharaNagatam, more as a filler. The next big AlApanE was to follow - paTdIp arrived, accoutred entirely in its original hindustanI raiments. Everything about the AlApanE - the vocalization purely as akAra, the texture of the plain notes and long mends rather than the more Carnatic kampita gamaka - served as a great counterpoint to the maDI kApI AlApanE before this! It continued onto the tAnam, which though short brought to the concert back to the Carnatic idiom - this was tAnam and not the nom-tom ka AlAp, a Dhrupad speciality. The highlight was the sudden switch into  hindustAni mode. Thier asura sAshaka in hindustAni style was well demonstrated.

The Pallavi was interesting, with two speeds within the structure, but the brothers had left too little time to do justice to the Pallavi in terms of neraval. trikAlam in this Pallavi would probably not have been a great idea anyway; even if executed accurately, musical aesthetics would have been sacrificed at the altar of virtuosity. However, they could have devoted some more time to a proper neraval, particularly given that the only other place where neraval was done was in the kApI Kriti. The rAgamAlikA swaras were good and interesting (very Carnatic rAgAs like varALI and bilaharI interspersed with the desya behAg and sindhu bhairavI for example) without being spectacular. 

The tail end pieces were soothing, and a good wind down to the proceedings, particularly the lullaby by Iriyamman Thampi (originally sung for the baby Maharaja Swati Thirunal). 

If the filler was a Chembai staple, the maNgaLam was a BMK favorite. Interesting in that these two artistes were mentioned by the vocalists' father a long while back as two of only three male vocalists (the third being KJY) he had accompanied in his long career who never had to clear their throats during a concert. He must be a proud father to be able to add to that list - I did not hear a single cough or throat clearing sound anytime during the concert!

On the accompanying artistes - Chandramauli started off not fully comfortable. He was distinctly scratchy in parts, particularly during certain times in mAmava paTTAbhirAmA. However, kApI acted as a pick-me-up for him (pun intended!) and he was very good thereafter, shining especially in the brief tAnam of paTdIp.

Trichur Mohan has an "unfair" advantage of not just close familiarity with the vocalists' music, but that of actually shaping it. Be as it may, his deep experience coupled with the above ensure that the concert is adequately supported. though the ghata vidwan seemed conspicuous by his silence for most part, he did get to demonstrate his brilliance during tani, matching stroke to stroke with Trichur R Mohan. Personal taste- he could have had a few more decibles into the audio mix.

I came away with mixed feelings. No doubt a very, very good concert - but the heart and mind were not satiated. The brothers' obvious talent promised so much more! While they sang outlines for almost all the rAgAs, I would definitely have wanted to have at least one more detailed alapana - possibly PantuvarALI / maNirangu. And some neraval in the Pallavi, and and one more brief neraval - possibly around navaratna manDapE. But it was not to be. Hope I get to realise this as I attend their concert today at Seshadripuram.

It would be unfair to the concert if I finished with that negative note. It was one of the best in the ramanavami season so far, and I'm sure it will still be one of the best even when the season is over. More power to the brothers!

PS:
1. Inspite of a slightly delayed start, they ensured the mic was set to perfection and there was no tampering throughout.

2. The concert ended at 10.00 pm, full 30 mins of extra time to keep the full house audience spell bound.

2017 Nov 19 ShashankS BUGaneshPrasad TVBhanktavatsalam NAmrith @ kAnchanOtsava2017

Flute: Vid. ShashankS  Violin: Vid. BUGaneshPrasad  Mridanga: Vid. TVBhanktavatsalam  Khanjira: Vid. NAmrith Organiser: kAnchanOtsava ...