Sreevalsan J Menon @ Odukkathur Mutt, Bangalore

Dr. Sreevalsan J Menon, an agricultural scientist (PhD in the same field) by profession and also a good carnatic classical singer, performed at the Odukkathur Swamigal Mutt in Bangalore yesterday in the Gokulashtami Concert Series. He was accompanied on the violin by Sri S. Varadarajan, on the mridangam by Sri Neyveli Narayanan and on the khanjira by Sri Guruprasanna. Dr. Menon is the disciple of veteran artist Neyyatinkara Vasudevan.

List of compositions sung is as follows:

1) valachi (varnam) – navarAgamAlikA – Adi – pattanam subramanya iyer
2) pranamAmyaham – gOwlai – Adi – mysore vAsudEvAchAr
3) angAraka – surutti – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
4) teliyalEru – dhEnukA – Adi – thyAgarAja
5) thUmanI mAdathu – amIr kalyAni – Adi – AndAl
6) krupayA – chArukEsi – misra chApu – swAti tirunAl
7) paralOka – mandAri – Adi – thyAgarAja
8) bAlagOpAla – bhairavi – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar
9) gOpAlaka – bhUpAlam – misra chApu – swAti tirunAl
10) karuna cheivAn – yadukulakAmbOji – Adi – iriyammAn thampi
11) pavamAna (mangalam) – sOwrAshtra – Adi – thyAgarAja

The organizer went head over heals praising Dr. Menon and even called this the best concert in the series. Though he sang really well, in my humble opinion, this was far from the best concert. Dr. Menon’s voice is sweet and good. However, there is no azhutham (loosely translated as weight) at the places required. As a result, he is unable to move people as much with the slow, melodious kritis as some of the accomplished artists in the field would manage to. The raga alapanas he sang were also not the best I have heard so far in this series. In fact he left out so many patterns/prayogas from the alapanas, most of which were highlighted by the experienced violinist Sri Varadarajan, when his turn came. However, I feel Dr. Menon can certainly make it real big in this profession.

Sri S.Varadarajan who is one of my favorites when it comes to violin accompaniment (the other one is Sri Embar S. Kannan) supported the vocalist very well. His rAga AlapanAs were elaborate and very melodious to hear.

Sri Neyveli Narayanan (mridangam) is another experienced artist who has played in a lot of concerts. The highlight of his performance yesterday was the taniavartanam where briefly played the following nadais in the order specified – chatusram (4), three varieties of sankIrnam (9) and then tisram (3). The first of the sankirna nadais was the slower one (4.5 mAtharais in 4), the second one was a mix of the slower (4.5 mAtharais in 4) and double speed one (9 mAtharais in 4) and the third one was in double speed (9 mAtharais in 4). Sri Guruprasanna on the khanjira played really well with good responses to each of the nadais played by Sri Narayanan, though he seemed confused during the first of the sankirna nadais and played a fast tisra nadai as response.

Today’s concert at the Odukkathur Mutt is by Sri Neyveli Santhanagopalan. He will be accompanied by Sri B.U.Ganesh Prasad on the violin, Sri Kamalakara Rao on the mridangam and Sri N. Amrith on the khanjira. Hyderabad Brothers – Dr. Seshachari and Dr. Raghavachari were originally scheduled to perform but have apparently expressed their inability to do so to the organizer as they are indisposed.

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