T.M.Krishna @ Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Satguru Gnanananda Hall, Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai

Date: 26 Dec 2006

Organizer: Narada Gana Sabha

Vocal: Sri T.M. Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri S. Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri Karaikudi R. Mani (KRM)

Ghatam: Sri V. Suresh

List of songs:

1) sAmI daya (varnam) – kEdAragowLa – Adi – tiruvOtriyUr tyAgayyA

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

3) parama kripA sAgarI – yadukulakAmbOji – rUpakam – g.n.bAlasubramaNiam (AS)

4) santAna rAmaswAminam – hindOLavasantam – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar

5) kalikiyunTE – kIravANi – Adi – thyAgarAja (ANST)

6) rAgam tAnam pallavi – sahAnA – kanDa tripuTa (2 kaLai)

pallavi wordings: “vaDivElanai nidam pOTruvOm, vaiyam ellAm aruL purindu kAkkum”

kalpanA swaram in sahAnA, kalyANi and madyamAvati

7) sarvam brahmamayam – madhuvanti – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra (O)

8 ) irakkam varAmal – behAg – rUpakam – gOpAlakrishna bhArati

9) vAzhiya sentamizh – madyamAvati – Adi – subramaNya bhArati

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

TMK’s concerts are almost always such a hit. What else to expect in a concert that had four accomplished artists sitting on stage and performing together !!!! Be it the yadukulakAmbOji alapana or the kalpana swarams for “parama kripA sAgari” or the elaborate kIravANi alapana, TMK left the stamp of his mastery everywhere. What better violinist to accompany him than one of the best in business today – Sri S. Varadarajan !! He is such a delight to hear and an asset to any concert he performs in.

Mridangam maestro Sri Karaikudi R. Mani and ghatam vidwan Sri V. Suresh are no strangers to each other. The numerous occasions on which they have played together made the taniavartanam, which comprised of chatusra and tisra naDais, an excellent one. Sri Karaikudi R. Mani also accompanied well for all the songs, especially “vinatA suta vAhana“.

Here is something for you to check when you go to your next TMK concert ….. don’t know if this can be termed as a superstition, but one of the things I have seen TMK do diligently in the last 4-5 of his concerts is sing the first song with his wristwatch on and remove the wristwatch when the second song starts.


T.M.Krishna @ Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai

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

Date: 25 Dec 2006

Organizer: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Vocal: Sri T.M. Krishna (TMK)

Violin: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar (RKS)

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS)

Khanjira: Sri B. Sree Sundar Kumar

List of songs:

1) dEva dEva – mAyAmALavagowLa – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL (NS)

2) samugAna – kOkilavarALi – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

3) janani ninnuvinA – rItigowLa – misra chApu – subbarAya sAstri (A)

4) sarasa sAma dAna – kApinArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) nAdOpAsanA – bEgaDa – Adi – (ANST)

6) rAgam tAnam pallavi – kApi – tisra tripuTa (2 kaLai)

pallavi wordings: “jagadIsha pArthasArathE, karuNA payOnidhE”

kalpanA swaram in kApi, pUrvikalyANi, kuntalavarALi & garuDadwani

7) jAnarO I mOgamu (jAvaLi) – khamAs – rUpakam – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr

8 ) sApashyat – jOnpuri – Adi – tirupazhanam panchApakEsar

9) tAm tAm tAm udanitOm (tillAnA) – khamAs – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer

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

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

TMK is a machine that belts out hit concerts one after the other and today was no exception. He began in true “Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (SSI)” style with “dEva dEva” in mAyAmALavagowLa. UKS was in top form and played some awesome accompaniment for this first song itself. He must himself have been reminded of the days when he had played for SSI.

The first alapana of the day was that of rItigowLa. Yesterday, Sathyam Cinemas that screened “ArAr AsaippadAr“, the documentary on Sri Sanjay Subramaniam, had played the song” janani ninnuvinA” in rItigowLa as sung by Sri Sanjay before the movie began. My friend and I were immediately wondering how some of the phrases in the song would sound if sung by TMK. When TMK began the rItigowLa alapana today, I just wished he sang “janani ninnuvina” and guess what – my wish had been granted !! It was a very moving rendition with a lot of azhutham where required. The fillers which UKS played during the silent portions of the song were simply brilliant.

The main song for the day – “nAdOpAsanA” was preceded by an elaborate bEgaDA alapana which was very well executed by both TMK and RKS. It was a very satisfying alapana for me especially after hearing a much lighter bEgaDA of different style from Malladi Brothers yesterday. When the song began, there was suddenly a reduction in the sound level in the hall, as though one of the speakers had been cut off. The sound levels never improved after that till the very end.

The taniavartanam played by Sri UKS and Sri Sundar Kumar was an excellent one too. It is unbelievable that at such an old age, UKS manages to play for two 3-hour concerts in a single day and contributes his best to both.

Finally, a few things that Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha could work on to give a better concert experience to both the performers as well as the audience:

  • There is minimal air circulation on the podium in which the performers sit. The ceiling height there is pretty low and it is terribly hot. I just wonder how TNS yesterday and TMK today managed to give such great performances despite the poor conditions. The sabha needs to do something to improve this
  • The wooden flooring makes an awful lot of noise when anyone starts walking. When a group of people moves, it gives the effect of a series of earthquakes.
  • There is an evacuation that happens once the 4PM concert ends and the audience for the 6:30PM concert is let in after that. The exit and the entrance are the same and it leads to a lot of pushing and shoving. In the midst of this, there are 2-3 people standing to check if tickets have been bought and they simply can’t do their job given the mad rush.

Carnatica Brothers @ Brahma Gana Sabha, Chennai

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

Date: 25 Dec 2006

Organizer: Brahma Gana Sabha

Vocal: Carnatica Brothers – Sri Sashikiran & Sri Ganesh

Violin: Sri Mysore V. Srikanth

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman

Ghatam: Sri Vaikkom Gopalakrishnan

List of songs:

1) vanajAkshA (varnam) – rItigowLa – kanDa aTa – vInA kuppaiyer

2) teliyalEru – dhEnukA – Adi – thyAgarAja (S)

3) manasA yetulO – malayamArutam – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) EmA ninnE – mukhAri – misra chApu – subbarAya sAstri (A)

5) ninnucheppa – mandAri – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer

6) srI dakshiNAmUrtE – shankarAbharaNam – misra jampa – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AST)

7) gOvardhana giridhara – darbAri kAnaDA – Adi – nArAyaNa tIrtar

8 ) sAramaina – behAg – rUpakam – swAti tiruNAL

9) jagadhOdhAraNa – kApi – Adi – purandaradAsa

10) dirana tana dIm (tillAnA) – chenchuruTTi – Adi – vINA sEshaNNA

11) english nOte – sankarAbharaNam – Adi (tisra gati) – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavathar

12) makuTakE mangaLam (mangaLam) – madyamAvati – Adi – purandaradAsa

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

Carnatica Brothers started their morning concert with the rItigOwLa aTa tala varnam which is one of my personal favorites. The raga alapanas for malayamArutam and shankarAbharaNam were done by Sri Sashikiran while the alapana for mukhAri was done by Sri Ganesh. The not-so-often-heard shankarAbharaNam kriti “srI dakshiNAmUrtE” was taken up as the main composition and rendered well. The kalpana swaram was put with eduppu 0.5 beat before samam at “srI dakshiNAmUrtE” and taniavartanam was also given at the same place …… and what a class act the taniavartanam was !!! Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman simply blasted his way through it. Sri Vaikkom Gopalakrishnan on the ghatam also played very well. Usually, the difficulty in playing taniavartanams in talams not very often used in concerts is that the percussionist has to try and improvise much more than playing in say common talams like Adi or rUpakam. A task of even greater difficulty for the percussionist is to try to adjust to the varying speeds with which the singer/main performer may put different beats of the talam due to loss of control (and/or any other reasons) and try to still fit in his calculations. Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman, with all his experience, excelled at this. For example, while playing kOrvais he seemed to exactly know which sollu would fall at which beat, not only in the normal speed, but also while doing tisram or while playing at double the speed.

T.N.Seshagopalan @ Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Chennai

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

Date: 24 Dec 2006

Organizer: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Vocal: Sri T.N. Seshagopalan

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri V.V. Ravi

Mridangam: Sri Vellore Ramabhadran

Ghatam: Sri Madippakkam Murali

I landed up about an hour late after attending the Malladi Brothers concert in T.Nagar. The following list of songs is thus not a complete one:

* srI rAjagOpAla – sAvEri – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (A?)

* marivErE – shanmugapriyA – Adi – paTTaNam subramaNya iyer (S)

* vAnchatOnu nA – karnaranjani – Adi (tisra gati) – harikEsanallUr muthiAh bhAgavatar (O)

* rAga AlApana – kAmbOji

sachitta sAi – viruttam – kAmbOji

O ranga sAyi – kAmbOji – Adi – thyAgarAja (AST)

* sadA enna hrudayadalli – behAg – rUpakam – vijaya viTTala dAsa (O)

* gOvinda lAl (viruttam) – kOsalam

dUdh piyO rE – kOsalam – Adi – nAmdEv

* dIm tatara tAni (thillAnA) – bilahari – Adi – ariyakkuDi rAmAnuja iyengAr

* vachana miga vetri (tiruppugazh) – suruTTi – chatusra jampa – aruNagirinAthar

* madhava bhavatutE (mangaLam) – pantuvarALi – Adi – vijayagOpala

* sriya kAntAya (slOkam) – srI
(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

I think I heard God sing today. He sang so majestically that he took me to a totally different world. Its an experience which I am sure I won’t be able to capture in words. Here is an attempt though.

After attending the Malladi Brothers concert, I was in two minds – whether to go to TNS concert or not. It was already an hour since the concert would have begun and I generally do not like to barge into a concert halfway through. However, the TNS-Parthasarathy Swami Sabha combo is something I had found to be very satisfying twice in the past and I just couldn’t stop myself from rushing to TNS’ concert.

TNS was singing “srI rAjagOpala” with a lot of involvement when I entered. This was followed by the shanmukhapriyA composition “marivErE dikkevarayya” in which the father-son duo of TNS and TNSK set the stage on fire with their racy kalpana swarams. But the highlight of the day for me was certainly kAmbOji. The alapana, kriti rendition, kalpana swaram and taniavartanam put together lasted for 1.5 hours. TNS himself did a detailed raga alapana for close to 30 min which, when it ended, brought me very close to tears. For the first 10 minutes, TNS was operating only in the lower octave and the lower half of the normal octave. He built up the alapana step-by-step, gradually progressing to the notes higher up. The way he held his breath for a long time during the alapana, yet simultaneously releasing rapid fire patterns of notes one after the other was simply amazing. I was so amazed at his involvement and dedication. Here was a guy supposed to present his Sangita Kalanidhi concert the next day at the Academy and instead of just relaxing or giving an ordinary concert, he was straining himself to give to the audience the best of what he could. “O ranga sAyi” was itself rendered so well. Elaborate kalpana swaram was put at the pallavi line itself involving a lot of mathematical patterns towards the end. His kAmbOji is still ringing in my ears.

Sri V.V. Ravi’ kAmbOji alapana was short and sweet. He also played very well for the songs. He however struggled a lot with the mathematics part in the kalpana swarams which is kind of natural considering that it is really not possible to immediately understand some of the calculations used by TNS and play the same on the violin.

If the present form of TNS continues on Christmas day, the rasikas are in for a cracker of a Sangitha Kalanidhi concert.

Malladi Brothers @ The Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai

Venue: Balamandir German Hall, T.Nagar, Chennai

Date: 24 Dec 2006

Organizer: The Indian Fine Arts Society

Vocal: Malladi Brothers

Violin: Sri Mysore N. Nagaraj

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman

Ghatam: Sri T.V. Vasan

List of songs:

1) bhajana sEyu mArgamu – nArAyaNi – Adi – thyAgarAja (O)

2) inta parAkA – mAyAmALavagOwLa – rUpakam – Anai ayyA (NS) 

3) kalayAmi raghurAmam – bEgaDa – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (ANS)

4) mAkElarA – ravichandrikA – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) EmA ninnE – mukhAri – Adi – subbarAya sAstri (ANST)

6) nahi rE nahi shankA – ?? – Adi – sadAsiva brahmEndra (O)

7) chandrashEkarA IshA – sindhubhairavi – Adi – Anai vaidyanAta iyer

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

A well planned and well executed concert. Sri Mysore Nagaraj was simply brilliant and so was Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. I had so many good things about this concert to write about but nothing is coming to mind now after listening to Sri T.N. Seshagopalan’s (TNS) brilliant concert at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha. All that I can remember now is just TNS, TNS and TNS.

Arar Asaippadar – A documentary/film on Sanjay Subramaniam

Prasanna Ramaswamy’s “Arar Asaippadar“, a documentary on popular Carnatic singer Sri Sanjay Subramaniam, was screened at Sathyam Cinemas in Chennai today morning at 10.00AM. I walked into the hall at about 9:55AM and was greeted by an audio track of Sanjay’s rendition of Sri Subbaraya Sastri’s rItigOwLa composition “jananI ninnuvinA” being played before the film started. A nice idea I thought to build up the mood of the audience.

The documentary started with Sanjay’s rendition of Sri Muthu Tandavar’s nAdanAmakriyA composition “ArAr AsaippaDAr“. The initial part just dragged on and on and on, supported mainly by the audio track of Sanjay’s songs running in the background. I think the aim here was to show snippets from the daily life of Sri Sanjay but what resulted was a random collection of clippings depicting different things making it very unclear to judge what was being conveyed. The first words spoken by anyone came about 18-20 minutes into the movie.

Sri Sanjay was shown practising the kalyANi aTa tAla varnam “vanajAkshi” at his home with a tambura. He was shown drawing open the blinds at his house in the morning, taking a peep at the outside world from his balcony etc. Suddenly clippings from his performance at a venue came in. There were also clippings inbetween that showed temple architecture. He was also shown in the green room with Sri S. Varadarajan and Sri K. Arun Prakash explaining them the structure of the gambhIranATTai mallAri just before a concert.

There were glimpses of Sri Sanjay’s family life, Sanjay teaching his disciple Swarna Rethas, Sanjay’s wife preparing dosa(?) with copious amount of oil (like Jyothika in that idhayam nallennai ad), Sanjay reading out detective stories (Sambu stuff) to his children, Sanjay sharing memories of his grandmother telling him how to sing a verse in a song, Sanjay recollecting how Sri Calcutta K.S. Krishnamurthi taught him subtle differences in prayogas for different ragas etc. There was also a sequence where he was shown learning a few songs from nadaswaram vidwan Sri Vaidyanathan(?), primarily the Arunachala Kavi composition in suruTTi “kANa vEnDum laksham kaNgaL”. In another sequence Sri Neyveli Venkatesh, Sri Guruvayur Dorai and Sri Nagai Muralidharan were shown discussing and appreciating his music. There were also some good clippings of temple festivals with appropriate songs sung by Sri Sanjay played in the background.

I think overall the documentary is okay. What is however lacking is a theme and lack of clarity over what the maker of the documentary wanted to convey. Without Sri Sanjay’s songs playing in the background with some good accompaniment from Sri S. Varadarajan and Sri Arun Prakash, it became kind of difficult to sit through the dragging portions.

I think there need to be more such films documenting lives of musicians and carnatic music itself, at least for the benefit of future generations. I am sure people like Sri Rangaramanuja Iyengar, Smt Indira Menon etc would have faced a lot of hardships when they wrote their books without much of historical material available in codified form to readily support their works. Films like this can also help in spreading some knowledge of the art among the masses. That way I think this is a step in the right direction.

Some general information in case you are planning to watch the documentary: The duration of the film is supposed to be 85 minutes and there is an interval of about 10 minutes duration somewhere near the middle if you are watching the movie at Sathyam Cinemas. The next screening is at the same venue on 31st Dec 2006.

T.N.Seshagopalan @ Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai

Venue: Satguru Gnanananda Hall, Narada Gana Sabha, TTK Road, Chennai

Date: 23 Dec 2006

Organizer: Narada Gana Sabha

Vocal: Sri T.N.Seshagopalan (TNS)

Vocal Support: Sri T.N.S. Krishna

Violin: Sri M.Chandrasekaran

Mridangam: Sri Guruvayur Dorai

Ghatam: Sri B.Sree Sundar Kumar

List of songs:

1) nEranammiti (varnam) – kAnaDA – kanDa aTa – ramanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (O)

2) brOvabAramA – bahudAri – Adi – tyAgarAja (S)

3) kaDaikkaN vaittennai – bEgaDa – misra chApu – rAmaswAmi sivan (A)

4) ardhanArIshvaram – kumudakriyA – rUpakam – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (AS)

5) saraguNa pAlimpa – kEdAragOwLa – Adi – rAmanAtapuram srInivAsa iyengAr (ANST)

6) mOhanavallI – mAnji – misra chApu – kavi kunjara bhArati

7) nandalAlA (viruttam) – ??

basE mErE – ?? – Adi – mIrAbAi (?)

8 ) vachana miga – behAg – tisra tripuTa (?) – aruNagirinAthar

9) sriya kAntAya (mangaLa slOkam) – suruTTi

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

To me TNS is like the God of Carnatic Music; he is much higher up there than the best-in-class. Whenever a question arises in my mind after listening to any top class alapana, neraval, kalpana swaram or RTP as to whether there can be something even better than this, I search for and try to hear TNS rendering the same and almost always TNS proves himself to be the best.

The first four songs in the concert were simply awesome. “nEranammiti” varnam was so beautifully rendered bringing out the essence of kAnaDA raga. The kalpana swarams in bahudAri were unimaginably fantastic. kumudakriyA alapana was priceless; the graha bhedam done by TNS using rishabha as the base to give sudha danyAsi like feel just transported me into a different world altogether.

Sri M. Chandrasekaran, for his part, played really well. Sri Guruvayur Dorai and Sri B. Sree Sundar Kumar played a good taniavartanam. Sri Sree Sundar Kumar was very impressive.