Kurumkuzhal – Pallavur Krishnankutty
Violin – Kodunthirappalli Subbaraman
Mrudangam – Kallekulangara Unnikrishnan
Morsing – Nadalaya Gopi
01. sAmi ninnE (varNam) – SrI – Karur Devudu Iyer ( O )
02. SrI mahAgaNapatE – nAta – Dikshitar ( A,S )
03. jAlandhara – valachi – Muthaiah Bhagavathar ( A,S )
04. SrI saraswathi namOstutE – Arabhi – Dikshitar ( A )
05. nannu pAlimpa – mOhanam – Thyagaraja ( A )
06. rAma nAmamE tudi manamE – dEsh – Tanjavur Sankara Iyer
07. enna tavam seydanE – kApi – Papanasam Sivan
Kurumkuzhal , a short wind instrument is an integral part of the percussion ensemble for ‘mELam’. While the ‘Chenda’ hold the centre stage, it is the kurumkuzhal that gives the melodic touch to the ‘mElam’. A group of ‘kurumkuzhal vidwans’ swaying front and back, bending down visually changing the and signalling the changes in the proceeding. The melodic interludes are immensely entertaining among the rhythmic high decibel beats of ‘chenda’ and ‘elathalam-cymbals’. Resembling the look of ‘shehnai’ of North Indian Music tradition, this short instrument extends its possibilities beyond the ‘melam’ scene as we can see here. Few artists, skillful enough to make it to the center stage of a concert performance have been doing a few performance around Kerala for a while now. I haven’t had a chance to listen or watch a performance until now.
At the outset, this sounds similar to ‘nadaswaram’ but much sharper ( almost to the level of shrill voice – most likely due to the improper amplification settings) tonal quality. The miniature model of nadaswaram, thus have the ‘finger holes’ closer to each other which could be one of the reasons of the higher pitched sound. That however did not appear as a limitation to the artist or us the listener. While it is understood that each instrument has its own set of possibilities and limitations and the clever artist explore the raga and kritis which can be played in his or her instrument of expertise. Vidwan Pallavur Krishnankutty is one of the exponent of this instrument and have given a stellar performance on a Saturday morning.
A short concert lasting slightly over an hour started off with the Sriraga varnam. A short Nata alapana preceded the ganesha kriti, which was added with a few rounds of swara. A beautiful valachi alapana was a little more detailed and probably was the best of the morning. The violin accompaniment , played very well through out the concert, played a good alapana on his part too. Jalandhara, probably was the only choice and was done beautifully including some nice sets of kalpana swaras. A good short alapana of Arabhi followed soon with Sri Saraswathi namostute of Dikshitar. Mohanam was to be the main with another long detailed alapana. It wasn’t as impressive as the valachi, decent nonetheless.
Being a short concert and the next performance to follow, there was no tani avartanam. The percussion artist did support the proceedings adequately. However, I personally think, that for ‘kurumkuzhal’ like in the case of clarinet and nadaswaram, ‘thavil’ could have been the ideal choice of percussion. A Desh kriti followed and as he was planning to conclude, the organisers gestured him to continue for a while as the ‘clarinet Maestro A K C Natarajan was preparing himself for the next concert. So, he continues with a beautiful kapi alapana and ennatavam before closing the affair.
I cant comment on the merits and demerits of this instrument in the carnatic concert. But in the able hands, with skill and knowledge, any instruments can achieve great heights. I am impressed with the way he played. Probably a full length concert would have made a greater impact.