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S Shankar @ Essae Music Foundation, 13 Nov 2016

Vocal :  S Shankar

Violin :  Mysore Nagaraj

Mrudangam : Neyveli Venkatesh

Ganjira : G Guruprasanna

List :

01 shLOkam ( vyAsO naigama charchayA) – kAmbOji – Walajpet Venkataramana Bhagavathar

02 mEru samAnA – mAyAmALavagauLa – Thyagaraja ( O,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘ aLakala muddunu tilakapu tIrunu’

03  dAsharathi ninnu kOri – riSabhapriya – Bidaram Krishnappa ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘kamalabhava sEvanuta charaNam vimala guNagaNa nAsharahita??’

04 anAtHuDanu gAnu – jingaLa – Thyagaraja

05 tuLasi bilva –  kEdAragauLa- Thyagaraja ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘karuNatO nenarutO paramAnandamutO niratamunu’

06 mI valla guNadOSamEmi – kApi – Thyagaraja ( A )

07 manavi nAlakinca rAdaTE – naLinakAnti – Thyagaraja

08 entani nE varNintunu – mukhAri – Thyagaraja ( A,N,S )

neraval & swara @ ‘kanulAra sEvinchi kammani phalamula’

09 amba brOvavE – dharmavati – Bidaram Krishnappa

10 kaddanu vAriki – thODi – Thyagaraja (A,N,S,T )

neraval & swara @ ‘baddu tappaka bhajiyinche bhakta pAlanamu sEyu’

11 shrIrAma jayarAma shringAra rAmayani – yadukulakAmbOji – Thyagaraja (O)

12 shLOkam( mangaLapanchakam) – sAvEri,SaNmukhapriya, Anandabhairavi, hamsAnandi, surutti  – T N Padmanabha

This annual music event at Essae is one which I usually try not to miss. For last 9 years or so, if I  am not mistaken, Prakash and Srividya conduct concerts under the Essae Music Foundation, and November concert is always by his Guru and one of my favourite Vidvan Bangalore S Shankar. I like his music for a variety of reasons. It probably is as clean and clear as one can get. Clear diction, adherence to ‘pAThAntaram’, no unwanted baroque presentation, very impressive selection of kritis and their appropriate positioning and elaboration. And my special interests in neravals, which he gives me in big numbers🙂.

Yesterday’s concert was again in the above lines. What a beautiful concert it was. Nice selection of kritis , 6 alapana, 5 neravals and an classy thOdi as main. He probably is not one who gives you that intellectual kick, but  his music has a charm, a freshness and thus an appeal.

The concert was announced as a tribute to Thyagaraja on his 250th year of birth as well as Sri Bidaram Krishnappa, whose 150th birth anniversary is in 2016. The concert was with some commentary, anecdotes and explanations as he introduced the compositions. After a shloka of Thyagaraja by one of his prime disciples, Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar, he talked some nuances of Thyagaraja’s compositions. Before which, he gave a brief sketch on the life and music of Sri Bidaram Krishnappa. Hopefully, one day we could have a detailed lecture on some of these lesser known Musicians from Mysore.

Sri Shankar sang alapanas for rishabhapriya, kedaragaula,kapi,mukhari and an elaborate thodi. There was neraval for almost all of these. What was most impressive about them was also the selection of kritis, especially some of the fillers. A rare jingaLa, Bidaram Krishappa’s dharmavati composition and the kApi with a sweet alapana. Mysore Nagaraj was fabulous. The short kApi alapana he played still gives me goosebumps. Neyveli Venkatesh played excellent through out, and played a swashbuckling tani avartanam. While the exhilaration was in the air, he was much restrained this time. The percussion duo was fantastic.

If the concert started with a shlokam on Thyagaraja, it concluded with a mangala shlokam on Thyagaraja, which I presume was set to tune by Sri Shankar himself.

A musical feast. I loved every bit of it.

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Sampagodu Vighnaraja @ Ranjani Fine Arts, 12Nov 2016

Vocal : Sampagodu Vighnaraja

Violin :  N N Ganeshkumar

Mrudangam : Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma

List :

01 karuNimpa (varNam) – sahAna –  Thiruvottiyur  Thyagayya  ( O )

02 shrI gaNapatini sEvimpa -saurAStram – Thyagaraja

03  mOkSamu galadA – sAramati – Thyagaraja ( A,S )

04  eTi janmamidi ha O rAmA  – varALi –  Thyagaraja (A,N,S )

neraval & svara @ ‘sAgarashayanuni thyAgarAjanutuni’

05  shObhillu saptaswara – jaganmOhini – Thyagaraja ( S )

06  rAga sudhArasa – AndOLika – Thyagaraja ( O )

07 tyAarAja gurudEvam bhajEham – chArukEshi? – D S Suryanarayana Bhatt?  (A,S,T )

08 tuLasammA – dEvagAndhAri – Thyagaraja

09  tava dAsOham  tava dAsOham tava dAsOham dAsharathE – punnAgavarALi – Thyagaraja

10 sItAkalyANa vaibhOgamE – kurinji –  Thyagaraja

The last time I heard him live was around 4+ years back. I was told, he was in Malaysia, doing a teaching assignment. He was one of the promising young vidvans and that hasn’t changed going by the last evening’s performance at Ranjani. This was the first time, I am listening to Sri Ganeshkumar and what a fine musician he is.

Started five minutes into the stipulated time, he started of with the sahAna varNam of a different Thyagaraja; otherwise the concert was again dedication to the legend whose 250th birth anniversary is being celebrated by the carnatic music world. Saramati was the first to get some respect with a nice,beautiful alapana. He started it with some impressive passages. I haven’t heard a sAramati alapana for a very long time and that added to the interest. Kriti was sedate, no unwanted shout at ‘sAkSatkAra’ , to my liking. But somewhere the energy was sagging in the concert at this point of time. Very good rounds of kalpana swaras followed, livening it up a bit.

Varali alapana was very good as well. It can take me into depression with some of the very dragging phrases. His alapana was much crisper and lively to my pleasure. That is why, I was surprised when he took eTi janmamidi. The only neraval of the concert came at this point. Decent, but not grand. I would have been happier if he sang another neraval in the concert. However,  kalpana swaras were  very impressive.

Very appropriately, he sang couple of faster pieces before main. Shobhillu saptaswara can, and it did,  lift the concert  with some cracker of swaras. A GNB school trademark AndOlika also was sung before main.

Grand alapana of ( I think) chArukEshi was real treat. The amazing range of voice he possess and the alapana traversed with ease through these. The approach and progression was very good. For both sAramati and charukeshi, he tried to sing some phrases of alapana at atimandra sthayi notes. Good attempt, little abrasive, a little finesse would have made it even more appealing. Ganeshkumar was brilliant in his return.  Kriti, a composition of his guru and father D S Suryanarayana Bhatt was a fitting homage to the musical genius. Short kriti with a ‘madhyamakala’ sahitya, he did not sing a neraval, but quickly moved into an elaborate swara prasthana. Some of his skills and capabilities were displayed with some style. It was excellent. Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma, played a usual delectable tani avartanam. He was at his usual best, playing along the sahitya, adding his bits at places.

Post main again had a few thyagaraja kritis. Punnagavarali, especially was very well sung. He concluded the concert with the Utsava sampradaya kriti Seethakalyana Vaibhogame. A good concert by the team.

 
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Posted by on November 13, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Abhishek Raghuram @ Nadasurabhi Annual Festival, 06 Nov 2016

Vocal : Abhishek Raghuram

Violin : H M Smitha

Mrudangam : Arjunkumar

List:

01 vanajAkSirO (varNam) – kalyANi – Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar ( O, S)

02 vallabha nAyakasya – bEgaDa – Dikshitar ( O,S )

03 koluvai unnADe – bhairavi – Thyagaraja ( A,S )

04 pAlayamAm pArvatIsha – kannaDa – Dikshitar (A,N,S )

neraval @ ‘malayadhvaja pANDyarAja pUjita pankaja charaNa’

swara @ chi0ttasawa phrase

05 eDayyA gati – chalanATa – Koteeswara Iyer ( A )

06  RTP – Anandabhairavi ,sAma, SaNmukhapriya – chaturashra aTa x 2 kaLai ,2 aksharam eDuppu

pallavi line ‘SaNmukhapriya janani sAmagAna vinOdini sadAnanda bhairavi

swaras in Anandabhairavi,sAma& SaNmukhapriya with one round in bhairavi

07 nAnEke baDavanu nAnEke paradEshi – behAg – Purandara Dasa ( A )

08 alarshara paritApam – suruTTi – Swathi Thirunal

09 mangaLam – saurAStram –  Thyagaraja

The concert of the series – at least among the 4 I attended. It wasn’t the complicate ‘all encompassing’ pallavi that made me say that. It probably was the bhairavi…wait the neraval and outstanding swaras that was sung for kannaDa, no was it the chalanAta alapana, or should I join the rest and say the pallavi ?

He came just in time , or a minute or two late, to the venue and was on the stage immediately. As the introductions and other formalities were completed ( in less than 5 mins, which  Nadasurabhi is known for), the settings and the rest of arrangements were completed. Kalyani varnam of Poochi with a few rounds of added swaras set the evening up. Crisp begaDa followed , again with few rounds of kalpana swaras.

The bhairavi that followed, we said, was the ‘piece de resistance’ of the season ( or so we thought, until we heard the next one). Beautiful alapana and some outstanding swara prasthana. It this was wow, there came kannaDa. As he was singing the alapana, leaned to his right and told Smitha that he will continue to the kriti ( which meant she will have no turn to play the alapana ). Palayamam pArvatheesha was accompanied with a grand neraval and a very very interesting and jaw dropping swaras at the ‘chittasawa passage’. So far so good. He proceeded with the next alapana, explaining some one requested that. The first 3-4 minutes of that was again real gem. Very slow, short , lower octave sangati’s made the beginning very very nice and there was no traces of the more familiar nATa anywhere. Kriti was equally impressive with fewer rounds of swaras.

After all this, a grand finale was expected. When he started the alapana in Anandabhairavi, I was delighted. For long I was wishing for a grand Anandabhairavi. It did not last long, as he glided it into sAma with some style. Sama alapana was then drifted to shanmukhapriya. Next few minutes was the three way movement in speed, octave and raga and Iam lost for words. I should still say, shanmukhapriya received maximum adulation from the singer over the other two. It was similar in the case of tAnam too. It is difficult to sing tAnam in sAma, and naturally it received the lowest ‘mindshare’. Tanam too lasted for a very long time, moving between the three ragas.  Smitha, copped up with all these very well, trying her best to live up to the occasion.  Pallavi, he mentioned composed and popularised by Lalgudi Jayaraman, was sung in all possible combinations making it extremely complex and complicated to follow. There was even more structurally  complex swaraprasthana for each raga, each at different ending. Once, he sang swaras in bhairavi appropriately ending. The whole affair was one awesome display of skill, knowledge and impeccable execution. I have only seen TNS doing it with such control and conviction.

It is tough task for the accompanying artist to follow the main artist when he is in such form. Arjunkumar is a seasoned artist and he was at ease and was adding to the flare with his own interventions at appropriate time. His tani avartanam, in chaturashra ata to me was a tribute to the extra ordinary pallavi that was sung by Abhishek. Smitha should receive a special mention for her efforts to lift herself to match the lead artist.

Post main was disappointment to me. 3-4 minutes of behag alapana did not help the devarnama. Swathi padam was even worse. Lyrics was messed, wrong split of words, unwanted cuts and stretches, the way the padam was sung made me ‘facepalm’ a couple of times. I am sure a native Bangalorean would have felt the same for nAnEke badavanu. May be he will look into it and restrain himself while singing padams and devarnama or shorter devotional pieces. I am not letting these small issues to affect my excitement about this concert. This was one awesome concert.

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Sangeethasurabhi T V Gopalakrishnan @ Nadasurabhi Annual Festival 6th Nov 2016

Vocal : T V Gopalakrishnan

Violin : S Varadarajan

Mrudangam : Anoor Ananthakrishna Sharma

Morsing : M Gururaj

List:

01 sarasUDa ( varNAm) – sAvEri – Kottavasal Venkatarama Iyer ( O )

02 vandisuvadalli gaNanAthA – nATa – Purandara Dasa ( A,S )

03 tera tIyada rAdA – gauLipant – Thyagaraja

04 Enu dhanyaLO lakumi – hindOLam – Purandara Dasa (A )

05 manavi nAlakinca rAdatE – naLinakAnti – Thyagaraja ( A,S )

06 sAmagAna vinOdini nin manamE – hamsAnandi – Lalita Dasar ( A,S )

07 guruvAyUrappanE abhayam – shankarAbharaNAm – Nadopasana Srinivasan ( A,N,S,T )

neraval & swara @ urugAdE manam?

08 paripAlaya paripAlaya  paripAlaya raghunAthA – rItigauLa – Thyagaraja

09 sAramaina – behAg – Swathi Thirunal ( A )

10 lOka bharitanO ranga – mAND? – Vadiraja Swamy

11 indina dinavE shubhadinavu – madhyamAvati – Guru Raghavendra Swamy

12 thillAna ( dhiraNA tanadhImta dhiraNA) – chenchurutti – Veena Seshanna

13 mangaLam – saurAStram – Thyagaraja

shLOkam ( mangaLam kOsalEndrAya) – shrI

Sri TVG was awarded the prestigious ‘Sangitasurabhi’ award for 2016 today morning during the 23rd Annual Music Festival of Nadasurabhi. An award increases it value and credibility by the recipients of those awards. Nadasurabhi had been not only maintained the standard but by awarding this year award to another stalwart of Carnatic music, enhanced its reputation and value.

The award ceremony was crisp and brilliantly coordinated. I love the way Nadasurabhi conduct their annual festival. No dragging speeches, on stage review of concert, undue praising a mediocre performance as a concert of the century. This is the model other organisers to emulate. Mysore Subramnya spoke with elan as exepcted. TVG’s reply was short and sweet. Hence we had ample time for an almost full concert.

He started saying, as they  wished him 100 yrs of life, he is planning to sing a 100 min concert. But, the occasion grew on him and he sang for almost 2:15 hrs in the company of some of the best accompaniment one can ask for. The voice had the traces of aging. But the spirit and energy was undiminishing. Despite the difficulty to hold breath for very long duration ( I meant literally very long), he was at ease. The voice traversed all the octaves with considerable ease. The fast paced bhrigas and kalpana swaras were flowing at will. At 85, he seems to be brimming with exuberance and  confidence. Chatting with the team, responding to the listeners delightful reactions and lavishing praises on his co-players.

Concert itself was a tribute to his Guru and to Kannada. Looked like the decision of ragam and kritis were largely prompted by his supporting team ( mostly his daughter/desciple and Varadu). Nata made its third visit in last 36 hrs. Interestingly, it provided a new facets in each of the occasion. TVG sang few short nice raga alapanas from nata, hindolam, nalinakanti and hamsanandi. Selected interesting kritis for each, sang swaras for nata, nalinakanti as well as hamsanandi.

Shankarabharanam alapana was much more detailed. And he joined Varadarajan as he played some interesting phrases in his turn. Another new kriti for me as he decided to sing Nadopasana Srinivasan’s composition of Lord Guruvayurappan. An oneline, one repeat neraval and another short rounds of kalpana swaras made the whole affair short.  Otherwise, it would have been a grand affair. Ananthakrishna Sharma initially refused a tani, wanting the legend to continue, but TVG nudged him to play. The percussion duo played a nice tani avartanam.

Post main had one of my favourite ‘paripalaya paripalaya’, immortalised by MDR. Another beautiful behag alapana came soon. Varada ‘passed’ his turn,and he sang Swathi kriti. After singing ‘indina dinave shubhadinavu, he suddenly remembered the presence of Sri Subramanya, and sang the chenchurutti thillana of Veena Seshanna. Checked if it is ok to sing mangalam, and on confirmation concluded with ‘nI nAma rUpamulaku’ and a shlokam. Very good concert.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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Sanjay Subrahmanyan @ Nadasurabhi Annual Festival ,05 Nov 2016

Vocal : Sanjay Subrahmanyan

Violin : S Varadarajan

Mrudangam : Neyveli Venkatesh

Ganjira : Guruprasanna

List:

01 ninnEkOri (varNAmm) – Ahiri – Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer

02 swAminAtha paripAlayAshumAm – nATa – Dikshitar ( S )

03 inta kaNNAnandamEmi – bilahari – Thyagaraja ( A )

04 kallu sakkare koLLirO – kalyANi – Purandara Dasa ( A )

05 kaDaikkaN nOkki kAvAtadu – thODi – Papanasam Sivan ( N )

neraval @ ‘mayilApurikkiraivA, kayilAsuttuRaivOy, magimai kuRaindiDumO’

06 dAriNi telusukoNTi – sudhasAvEri – Thyagaraja ( S, T )

07 chEtA shrI bAlakrSNam – dvijAvanti – Dikshitar

08 RTP – SaNmukhapriya – tishra tripuTa ,  khaNDa naDai, samam eDuppu

Pallavi line :  sharavaNabhava ennum tirumandiram sadA japi yen nAvE, Om’

rAgamAlika swaras in sahAna, chalanATa? , bhAgEshrI

09 sharavaNabhavaennum tirumandiram – SaNmukhapriya- Papanasam Sivan

10 dAsara nindisa bEDa – rAgEshrI – Purandara Dasa

11 viruttam ( UrilEn kANiyillai?) – hamsAnandi

kaNNanai kANbadeppO – rAgamAlika (hamsAnandi,nAtakurinji,bhImpLAs,abhOgi) – Subramanya Bharati

12 nirupamAna sAmi ni – behAg – Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar

13 mangaLam – saurAStram – Thyagaraja

This man was in some form yesterday.  Voice is at the peak of its strength, which he used to its fullest capabilities, the atmosphere is charged with  overflowing audience, over enthusiastic percussion support ( to the level of distraction at times) and some very refreshing set of kritis. He started on the dot at 6:00 – one should give creditto the organisers for this, completing the formalities within the 5 mins window, and sang till 9:20-25. There was no gap between one kriti to other, as he seems to be eager to move to the next one. Only on a rare occasion, he gave a minute or two for Venkatesh to retune his instrument.

Yet another new varnam to the stage. Ahiri ata tala varnam was first time for me, and I guess to many of us in the audience. It is not about singing new varnam in every concert, it is also about which of those gems are worth bringing out to the forefront. He has been doing some wonderful stuff with that for a while now.

Yesterday’s nATa from Malladi Bros were very different, but for Sanjay it was the traditional fare. Even before the percussion conclude the varnam piece, Sanjay had taken off on ‘swAminAtha’. Elaborate swara was sung. But, did I hear he starting it at ‘ma,ga,ri’ ?

Bilahari alapana was short. I was expecting Vasudevacharya’s composition but he decided on a Thyagaraja composition. No neraval and swaras added. Similar was for the next kalyANi. However, despite my cold shoulder towards kalyANi, I thought the alapana was superb. The way he started it was one to cherish, shear beauty. I was hoping for some neraval here, but he wound it up soon. Papanasam Sivan’s thODi composition was again fabulous. The whole kriti was very nice and had one gem of a neraval followed. What a place to sing the neraval.

No traditional submain-main way of progressing the conert until now. He launched into the multiple sangati’s of darini telusukonti. A very very long rounds of kalpana swaras followed. Majestic stuff. I predicted he will hand over to Venkatesh and that is what he did. I am not a great fan of Venkatesh’s tani avartanam. He started it nice with some good left hand play, but soon returned back to his usual style. The crowd as usual seems to have been thrilled with his exploits.

To bring some balance to the whole concert, the pallavi has to be a major one. But before that, he sang a very melodious dwijavanti after a riotous, ear splitting percussion tani. It was very well sung. He did (mischievously) mimic Semmangudi as he concluded the piece. I was right with predicting shanmukhapriya as pallavi. What a classy alapana that followed by both Sanjay and Varadarajan. Sanjay, making use of the range had us mesmerised with some breathtaking higher octave passages and some ‘ati mandrasthayi’ sojourn. Haven’t seen him with such great voice condition for a while. Tanam is one of his strengths and last evening was no exception. No great invention of the pallavi line, but effectively set to tisra triputa in khanda nadai. The Om, was a bit stretched at times. Ragamalika swaras were sung as is wont, with the last bhAgEshrI taking up little longer. He did try some hindustni styled stretches of notes as he sang the bhageshri, and to a lesser effect by Varadarajan. Surprisingly, he did trikalam post the ragamalika swaras, and very detailed. I liked the way Neyveli Venkatesh supported here.  As expected, he switched back to adi talam and completed the Papanasam Sivan’s composition in shanmukhapriya.

A short viruttam, followed bby a ragamalika composition and  a devarnama concluded the concert. Another brilliant concert from Sanjay.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

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