The number of people who had come to the Odukkathur Swamigal Mutt on Saturday to listen to the day’s concert far outnumbered the ones on any other day. The reason? It was Smt.Nithyashri Mahadevan‘s concert that day. Grand daughter of Smt. D.K.Pattammal (her paternal grandmother), veteran singer and one of the all time greats in the field and Sri Palghat Mani Iyer (her maternal grandfather), who is considered to by many to be the greatest mridangist ever, she has a huge fan following and attracts huge crowds whenever/wherever she sings. Many like her high pitched, loud voice though its a different matter that some others (like a few of my friends) just can’t tolerate her voice. All that apart, her concert on Saturday can, along with that of Sri T.M.Krishna a few days back, considered to be the best concert so far in the Gokulashtami concert series this year.
Smt. Nithyashri Mahadevan was accompanied on the violin by Kum. Akkarai Subhalakshmi, on the mridangam by Sri P. Satish Kumar (who looked almost like Satya Sai Baba) and by Sri A.S.N.Swamy on the khanjira.
The compositions sung were as follows:
1) swAmi nAn (varnam) – nAttaikurinji – Adi – pApanAsam sivan
2) gAnamUrthE – gAnamUrti – Adi – thyAgarAja
3) telisi rAma – pUrnachandrikA – Adi – thyAgarAja
4) bAlakrishnan pAdamalar – danyAsi – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan
5) thyAgarAja yOga – Anandabhairavi – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
6) sAmAnya vallA – chArukEsi – Adi – purandaradAsa
7) nidhichAla – kalyAni – misra chApu – thyAgarAja
8) chandanamum (viruttam) – karnAtakadEvagAndhAri
kAna Ayiram – karnAtakadEvagAndhAri – Adi – arulavan
9) hari hari (viruttam – pAnchAli sabadam) – hamsAnandi
chakkaram Endi – hamsAnandi – Adi – subramanya bhArati (?)
10) rAgam tAnam pallavi – sAvEri – Adi (2 kalai)
pallavi wordings: “sAvEri rAgapriyE, kAvEri tIra nilayE”
kalpanA swaram in the rAgAs sAvEri, asAvEri, jaya sAvEri, mayUra sAvEri, sudha sAvEri, bhOga sAvEri, simhELa sAvEri, paNA sAvEri and karnAtaka sudha sAvEri
11) bhAgyada lakshmi – bOulI – Adi – purandaradAsa
12) thillAna – dwijAvanti – Adi – kadalUr subramanian (?)
13) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtram – Adi – thyAgarAja
Danyasi, kalyAni and sAvEri rAga Alapanas were very well executed. The pallavi in sAvEri was a special one. Though sung primarily in rAgA sAvEri, the kalpanA swarams were sung in rAgAs that had sAvEri as a part of their name viz. sAvEri, asAvEri, jaya sAvEri, mayUra sAvEri, sudha sAvEri, bhOga sAvEri, simhELa sAvEri, paNA sAvEri and karnAtaka sudha SAvEri (I could have made a mistake in one or more of these rAgA names as I am hearing some of them for the first time). Like the mamis assembled there were heard muttering after the concert ended: “sAvEri nu peru vechu ivvalavu rAgam irukku nu ippo thaan theriyum (came to know only now that there are so many rAgAs with the word sAvEri in their name)”. The pallavi line, which was not much complicated when compared to the pallavis sung in earlier concerts in this Gokulashtami series, was structured as follows (A = aksharam): sAvEri started 1A after samam and was for 3A, rAgapriyE started after a gap of 1A and was for 3A. The lagu part of the tAlam thus completed, kAvEri started a further 3.5A after the middle of the tAlam and was for 2.5A, tIra immediately followed and was for 1.5A and nilayE immediately followed tIra, was also for 1.5A and ended 1A after samam at the place where sAvEri started. In all, 3A+1A+3A+3.5A+2.5A+1.5A+1.5A = 16A = total count of one Avartanam of the tAla.
This concert, in my opinion, also had the best violin and mridangam accompaniment so far. Akkarai Subhalakshmi followed Nithyashri really well and also reproduced many of the patterns used by Nithyashri in her kalpana swarams accurately. The highlight of her performance was the raga alapanas which she played in an unhurried fashion, slowly developing each raga, highlighting the different patterns that distinguished a raga very well.
Sri Satish Kumar on the mridangam I would say provided the ideal accompaniment. To be very frank, I am sick of hearing Nithyashri’s father playing the same stale mridangam accompaniment in almost all of her concerts and one of the main reasons I came to hear this concert was because Sri Satish Kumar was playing the mridangam. I had first heard him play for S.Shashank in a flute concert and have been an admirer of his style since then. As I said earlier, I would just sum his mridangam accomaniment by saying that it was the best in this series so far. Sri A.S.N.Swamy on the khanjira also played well.
Today’s concert is by Sri Sanjay Subrahmanyam, who along with Sri T.M. Krishna and Sri T.N.Seshagopalan forms my list of favorite male carnatic singers active in the concert circuit today.