Friday, 22 April 2016

2016 Apr 21 VijaySivaN CharumatiRaghuraman NManojSiva SKrishna @ SRSM


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: 

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.

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 .


  1. Wonderful analysis .It felt as good as listening to the concert all over again.Truly an unforgettable concert.

  2. Beautiful review ( equally stunning snaps ). Can fully relate to your analysis of the concert , having attended the same too. Vijay Siva 's concerts are ones carefully planned and executed. Keep the reviews coming


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