T.N.S.Krishna @ Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Sivagami Pettachi Auditorium, Luz Church Road, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 30 Dec 2006

Organizer: Brahma Gana Sabha

Vocal: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri Mysore V. Srikanth

Mridangam: Sri Neyveli Venkatesh

List of songs:

1) rAjIvAksha bArO – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – swAti tiruNAL

2) mundu vENu – darbAr – Adi – thyAgarAja (A)

3) rAga AlApanA – latAngi

teriyEn bAlakanAi (viruttam) – latAngi

aparAdamula – latAngi – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (ANS)

4) rAga AlApanA – mOhanam

kulam tarum selvam (viruttam) – mOhanam

nArAyaNa divya nAmam – mOhanam – Adi – pApanAsam sivan (AST)

5) sundari en soppanathil – khamAs – rUpakam – rAmanAtapuram c.s. sankarasivam

6) tOm tridAni tadara tAni (thillAnA) – hamIr kalyANi – Adi – ??

7) rAga outline – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Take Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS) in full splendour. Add a youthful voice. Shake well, stir and serve as it is. That is what is Sri T.N.S.Krishna (TNSK) for you. The hier apparent to Sri TNS musical legacy gave a splendid performance today.

The first alapana of the concert was that of raga darbAr which was very skillfully executed by both TNSK and Sri Mysore Srikanth. Then followed the latAngi alapana in which I was given an awesome guided tour. aparAdamula was sung at a fast pace. When the mudhra “venkaTEsha” came in the charanam, TNSK jovially pointed towards the mridangam vidwan Sri (Neyveli) Venkatesh. The song ended with racy kalpana swarams involving good kanakkus at the end.

The next raga alapana was that of mohanam. It was 18 minutes filled with pure ecstasy. I do not have words to describe the beauty of the alapana. Graha bhedam was done with gAndhAram as the base to give hindOLam. Not to be left behind, Sri Mysore V. Srikanth also gave a very beautiful delineation of the raga. What a beautiful rendition of the kriti it was by TNSK !! For sometime, I just felt like Sri TNS himself was sitting there on stage and singing it.

Sri Neyveli Venkatesh played very softly and aptly for all the songs.

I had this feeling of immense satisfaction after listening to the concert. Certainly one of the best concerts I have attended in the past few days. TNSK surely deserves an evening slot in the next season.

Maharajapuram Srinivasan @ Rasika Fine Arts, Chennai

Venue: J.G. Hindu Vidyalaya, Mambalam, Chennai

Date: 30 Dec 2006

Organizer: Rasika Fine Arts

Vocal: Sri Maharajapuram Srinivasan

Vocal Support: Sri Maharajapuram Ganesh Viswanathan

Violin: Sri Nagai Muralidharan

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman

Khanjira: Sri B. Sree Sundar Kumar

I reached the concert about 25 min after the scheduled start time thanks to the notorious T.Nagar traffic. Here is the partial list of songs:

* paripAlaya – pantuvarALi – Adi – swAti tiruNAL (?S)

* srI venkatEsham – kalyANavasantam – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A)

* ranganAtuDE – sowrAshtram – rUpakam – ponniAh piLLai

* En paLLi – mOhanam – Adi – aruNAchalakavi (A)

* shri krishnam – tODi – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ANST)

* nIraja daLa nayanA – mAnD – Adi – mannArguDi sAmbasiva bhAgavatar

* gOvindA ninna – janasammOdini – Adi – purandaradAsa

* rAgathil siranda – rAgamAlikA – Adi – kaDalUr subramaNiam

* rAmam bhajE – durgA – Adi – dayAnanda saraswati

* adi nIpai (jAvaLi) – yamunAkalyANi – Adi – dharmapuri subbarAyar

* thillAnA – brindAvani – Adi – lalguDi g. jayaraman

* pavamAna (mangaLam) – sOwrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

shubha mangaLam – madyamAvati

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Gayathri Venkataraghavan @ SPSS, Chennai

Venue: Vidya Bharati, Bheemasena Garden St., Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 30 Dec 2006

Organizer: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Vocal: Smt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan

Violin: Sri V.V.S. Murari

Mridangam: Sri J. Vaidyanathan

Ghatam: Sri S. Karthick

List of songs:

1) pAvanI ninnu nera (varnam) – janaranjani – Adi – a. sundarEsan

2) srIman nArAyaNa – bOwLi – Adi – annamAchArya

3) rAjuveDala – tODi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ONS)

4) hariharaputram – vasantA – kanDa Ekam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AS)

5) arumugA – sudha sAvEri – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

6) ninnu sEvinchina – yadukula kAmbOji – misra chApu – subbarAya sAstri (A)

7) ini oru kaNam – srIranjani – rUpakam – pApanAsam sivan

8 ) EtAvunarA – kalyANi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

9) sAgara shayana – bAgEswari – Adi – m.d.rAmanAthan

10) konDal vaNNanai (viruttam) – kApi – tiruppaNNAzhwAr

enna tavam – kApi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

11) namAmi nArAyanA (viruttam) – suruTTi

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Smt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan, one of my favorite female carnatic vocalists of the present generation, started her concert with the varnam “pAvanI ninnu nera” composed by her guru Sri A. Sundaresan, who I think was sitting in the first row to hear her concert. Sri Thyagaraja’s composition “rajuveDala” was sung well to some very good percussion support provided by Sri J.Vaidyanathan and Sri S. Karthick. The sangatis in the charanam of “hariharaputram” in vasanta were especially well sung.

Though all the alapanas and raga outlines were good, the yadukulakAmbOji and kalyANi alapanas were especially well sung and stood out. “ninnu sEvinchina”, composed by Sri Subbaraya Sastri on Sri Parthasarathy Swami upon his visit to Tiruvallikeni, was rendered with lot of involvement. It was a really moving rendition.

Sri J. Vaidyanathan and Sri S. Karthick worked together as a team and played very well for all the songs. Sri J. Vaidyanthan used very good gumukis at appropriate places to enhance the quality of his accompaniment for the songs.

The concert ended with a viruttam in one of my favorite ragas, suruTTi.

T.M.Krishna @ Kapali Fine Arts, Chennai

Venue: Dakshinamurthy Auditorium, P.S. High School, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 29 Dec 2006

Organizer: Kapali Fine Arts

Vocal: Sri T.M. Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri H.K. Venkatram

Mridangam: Sri Trichy Sankaran

Khanjira: Sri B.S. Purushottaman

List of songs:

1) vAtApi gaNapatim – hamsadwani – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (S)

2) sujana jIvana – khamAs – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (O)

3) mArubalka – srIranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja (AN)

4) dEvi brOva – chintAmaNi – Adi – syAma sAstri

5) O ranga sAyi – kAmbOji – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) parulanamATa (jAvaLi) – kApi -rUpakam – dharmapuri subbarAyar

7) shringAram kshiti (viruttam) – mAyAmALavagowLa, sAmA, sArangA, aTANA and kApi

enna tavam – kApi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

8 ) OsOsi – mukhAri – misra chApu – muddu naTEsA

9) niraimadi (tiruppugazh) – hamsAnandi – Adi – aruNagirinAthar

10) pavamAna (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

TMK started the concert with the popular hamsadwani kriti “vAtApi gaNapatim”. After a brief outline of khamas and rendition of the kriti “sujana jIvana”, TMK then started a detailed srIranjani alapana which was a treat to the ears. The way he sang the composition “mArubalka” brought back memories of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri Trichy “Sowkhyam” Sankaran and Sri B.S. Purushottaman literally stole the show in this song with their fantastic accompaniment.

I simply love it when TMK takes slow songs and renders them with a lot of azhutham where required. This is precisely what he did with the next composition “dEvi brOva”. Again Sri Trichy Sankaran played beautifully for this song using his awesome gumukis to create a great effect.

The main song for the day was “O ranga sAyi”. I had been hoping against hope that TMK sings some other song as this song is very common whenever a singer takes up kAmbOji as the main raga for the day. Sri Trichy Sankaran again almost played the entire pallavi on his mridangam !! The taniavartanam which comprised the chatusra and misra naDais was very enjoyable.

The slow “OsOsi” and the fast tiruppugazh “niraimadi” provided a great end to a good concert.

O.S.Thyagarajan & N. Ravikiran @ SPSS, Chennai

Venue: Vidya Bharati, Bheemasena Garden St., Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 28 Dec 2006

Organizer: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Vocal: Sri O.S Thyagarajan (OST)

Chitravina: Sri N. Ravikiran

Violin: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar (RKS)

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS)

Khanjira: Sri B. Sree Sundar Kumar

List of songs:

1) inta chAlamu (varnam) – bEgaDa – Adi – vINa kuppaiyer (O)

2) gaNanAdanE – sArangA – Adi – periasAmi thUran (OS)

3) ninnE nera – pantuvarALi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) sarOja daLa nEtrI – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – syAma sAstri (ANST)

5) valapu tALa – aTANA – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (O)

6) Erumayil (tiruppugazh) – madyamAvati – Adi (tisra gati) – aruNagirinAthar

7) pavamAna (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri OST and Sri Ravikiran started the concert by taking turns, one phrase after another, to do a small outline of bEgaDa. After the bEgaDa varnam, they did a short outline of sArangA, this time Sri Ravikiran choosing to play along like a violinist while Sri OST handled the outline. The first detailed alapana of the day was pantuvarALi and the first part was done by Sri Ravikiran with Sri RKS diligently following whatever he played. Sri OST picked up from where Sri Ravikiran ended his part and did a somewhat short but very pleasing alapana. The portions where he just held his breath on a few notes with good shruti sudham were especially enjoyable. The last kalpana swaram in the pantuvarALi kriti “ninnE nera” started with an exchange of improvisations between Sri Ravikiran and Sri UKS. Sri OST then took off and finished the kalpana swaram with a kOrvai.

The shankarAbharaNam alapana was the pick of the day. The first part of the alapana saw Sri OST in the lead with Sri Ravikiran and Sri Sriramkumar following closely whatever he sang. Chitravina as an accompanying instrument sounded so nice here. In many places, it even sounded nicer than the violin. The place where violin probably won was in the continuity and holding/playing of a swara for some length in time. Maybe a chitravina with a bow would take care of that too ;) The task started by OST was led to its desired conclusion by Sri Ravikiran. He did the second part of the alapana very beautifully with Sri OST keenly watching the slide at close quarters.

The shankarAbharaNam kalpana swarams saw Sri OST launch himself into graha bhEdam mode where he took rishabam as the base to get kharaharapriyA, then gandhAram as base to get tODi and then madhyamam as base to get kalyANi. For example, when singing with rishabam as the base, Sri OST would explicitly sing rishabam as shadjam and sing the other notes with shifted scale. Whether graha bhEdam can be applied at the kalpana swaram stage is debatable as graha bhEdam is a concept that doesn’t quite hold true at the note frequency level. It is still okay in an alapana or the neraval when tried at the swara sthana level. The good part was that Sri OST sang only the notes of the base shankarAbharaNam at the shifted scales thus preserving the frequencies and only showing relative shifts. This thing is difficult and requires quite a bit of practice to do with the ease with which Sri OST executed it. Sri Ravikiran tried the almost the same thing on the chitravina when his turn came but then graha bhedam, I feel, cannot be conveyed through an instrument to the effect it can be through vocal with some instrument like the violin playing the shifting base notes. Had Sri RKS played the base notes more loudly, it would have probably been more easier to identify the shifts on the chitravina. The brilliance of Sri Ravikiran shone through when, instead of playing the kalyANi that Sri OST sang with madhyamam as the base, he played S G M D N S with the madhyamam base to give a sunAdavinOdini like feel !!

I am at a loss of words to describe the beauty of the taniavartanam that came at the end of it all. Sri UKS and Sri Sundar Kumar made it sound so good and Sri UKS played some of the sollus at untouchable speeds with unimaginable clarity.

The chitravina again stood out with its beautiful accompaniment to the short aTANA alapana done by Sri OST. The concert ended with a tiruppugazh and a mangaLam after which a turban clad person in the audience who looked like a time traveler (I think Sri P.B. Srinivas?) read out his summary of the concert in English using such adjectives that would have made most listeners scurry over to the nearby bookshop to get a copy of the Oxford dictionary.

Sikkil Gurucharan @ Tarangini Arts Foundation, Chennai

Venue: Tattvaloka, Eldams Road, Chennai

Date: 27 Dec 2006

Organizer: Tarangini Arts Foundation, Bangalore

Vocal: Sri Sikkil C. Gurucharan (SGC)

Violin: Sri V.V. Ravi

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS)

Ghatam: Sri E.M.Subramaniam (EMS)

List of songs:

1) nIsATi daiva – srIranjani – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (O)

2) jaya jaya jaya jAnaki – nATTai – kanDa chApu – purandaradAsa (OS)

3) vinatA suta vAhana – jayantasEnA – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

4) ETi janma – varALi – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (ANST)

5) mUDamatE (viruttam) – mAnD

     bhaja gOvindam – mAnD – Adi – Adi shankarAchAryA 

6) sApashyat – jOnpuri – Adi – tirupazhanam panchApakEsar

7) jagadhOdhAraNA – kApi – Adi – purandaradAsa

8 ) nAdrudIm tadana tOm (tillAnA) – sindhubhairavi – Adi – UthukkADu venkaTa subbaiyer

9) srI rAma jaya mangaLam (mangaLam) – suruTTi – Adi – pApanAsam sivan

10) mangaLam kOsalEndrAya (slOkam) – suruTTi

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

The concert started a full hour behind schedule thanks to an extended DVD release function and lasted for about an hour and a quarter.  SGC quickly adjusted to the reduced time duration provided and gave a power packed performance. He started the concert with a beautiful raga outline of srIranjani followed by Sri Dikshitar’s composition “nIsAti daiva“. “jaya jaya jaya jAnaki” was rendered to some very good accompaniment by Sri UKS. The varALi alapana was a good one considering the paucity of time. Sri V.V. Ravi played it for even lesser duration understanding the time constraints. Neraval and kalpana swaram were at “sAgara shayanuni”. I am so used to hearing Smt. M.S. Subhalakshmi’s rendition of “bhaja gOvindam”. SGC sang it in a different style in the raga mAnD. My brother tells me that Sri Voleti Venkateswarulu has sung it similar to SGC in mAnD. The beautiful thillAnA in sindhubhairavi and Sri Papanasam Sivan’s mangaLam provided an apt finish to the good concert.