B.N.Suresh

Carnatic Musicians
shadjam
Posts: 202
Joined: 06 Apr 2007, 00:15

Postby shadjam » 03 Sep 2007, 05:17

I would like to start a discussion on this talented flautist. After listening to his famous Boston Concert, I was totally mesmerized by his style of play and in particular, his swara kalpanas. It was so sweet. It is sad that he passed away at a young age. His album with Lalgudi Shri. Jayaraman is a treat to listen to. There are a few more of his concerts floating around in sangeethapriya. This is en email about shri.B.N.Suresh I got a long time ago:

I have been enchanted with B N Suresh's flute music for a long time. The tonal quality of his flute reminds me of Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar's voice. Suresh, who died of of Liver Cancer at the relatively young age of 44 in 1990, was very well known in Karnataka but was only selectively known outside (As I have written earlier, Sudha Raghunathan, the vocalist lists him as one of her favorite instrumentalists along with S Balachander and Chitti Babu). I would easily put him in the same class as Dr N Ramani.

As far as I am aware, his discography consists of just 2 albums - one which has an excellent Hemavathi ("Sri Kanthimatim" of Muthuswami Dikshitar) and a sweet "Kanjadalayatakshi" in Kamala Manohari (also by Dixitar), among others (HMV STHVS 56903). He is accompanied by Lalgudi Jayaraman, Vellore Ramabhadran, and Bangalore Venkataram. This is a must have. The other album is of Purandaradasa's kritis accompanied by Mysore Manjunath (Violin), Praveen (Mridangam), Bangalore Venkataram (Ghatam), and HP Ramachar (Kanjira). If you are aware of other albums by him, please let me know. I wish All India Radio releases his radio concerts from its archives.

Suresh's style was characterized by strong, clean, and clear tone without any hiss and an incredible control over laya (you can time him with a stopwatch - I have seen him in concerts become irritated with the mridangist or the violinist if they tended to speed up or slow down - he would put down his flute and start keeping the tala!). Like Mali, he also used a high pitched flute (5-katte) believing that it was only when the flute was played at 4 or 5 katte, that its sweetness, beauty, and clarity came through. His style (bani) was his own, having taken lessons on the flute only for a short while - he admired Mali and was influenced by him but did not try aping his style. His guru, I believe, was the Ghatam/ Mridangam player, Bangalore Venkataram who taught him by singing and having Suresh vocalize on the flute. He has also said that he was influenced by the Alathur brothers. A Suresh quirk is that he sometimes got into a manic, fast, and almost repetitive playing of swara passages with staccato notes (in the Purandaradasa kritis album he does this in the swara prasthara for the kritis in Vasantha and Shubha Pantuvarali). He does not seem to have done that in the concert posted at www.rasikapriya.net

To mark his first death anniversary, a number of rasikas and musicians from Bangalore and Mysore released a booklet called, "Poet of Flute". The book has a decent biography of him and a few articles but it soars because of the photographs it has - it has one of Suresh, as a boy of 9 in "knickers" (shorts) sharing the stage with Mali and another where he is the main artist again in knickers (age 12 or so) with M S Gopalakrishnan on the violin!

shadjam
Posts: 202
Joined: 06 Apr 2007, 00:15

Postby shadjam » 03 Sep 2007, 05:22

The Boston concert I was referring to is available for download here:

http://www.sangeethapriya.org//Downloads/bns/bns.html

Another one of his concerts can be downloaded from here:

http://www.sangeethapriya.org//Download ... resh2.html
Last edited by shadjam on 03 Sep 2007, 05:23, edited 1 time in total.

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 9819
Joined: 02 Feb 2010, 18:31

Postby vasanthakokilam » 03 Sep 2007, 08:22

Thanks Shadjam. I also find B.N. Suresh's flute very enchanting, especially his Thodi which I remember listening a long while back.

AIR Madras or Trichi used to play a short flute alapna in Thodi (?) as a filler at the top of the hour. I wonder if it was B.N. Suresh's piece. Asking mainly because of the unique sound and timbre of that piece which I can only vaguely recall now.

shadjam
Posts: 202
Joined: 06 Apr 2007, 00:15

Postby shadjam » 03 Sep 2007, 15:53

vk,

Do you remember what song was it in Todi? Was it an AIR program? I would love to hear his Todi. Hope someone can share it with us. Thanks.

vasanthakokilam
Posts: 9819
Joined: 02 Feb 2010, 18:31

Postby vasanthakokilam » 03 Sep 2007, 16:23

Shadjam: I do not remember what Thodi song it was. Let me look around for it.

The AIR filler I am referring to is a different one. It was just a clean and crisp alapana and AIR used to play it for a minute or two as a filler.

shadjam
Posts: 202
Joined: 06 Apr 2007, 00:15

Postby shadjam » 11 Sep 2007, 23:46

There is some nice discussion about BNS in the following blog:

http://msanjay.weblogs.us/?p=362&cp=1#comment-10870

Here are some tidbits from that blog:

I can never forget BN Suresh. Way way back in the 80’s when I was a young priest at Sri Raghavendra Mutt at 8th cross Mallewaram, BNS played a couple times for the annual Aradhana celebrations and I will never forget his rendition of Baaro Krishnayya. It was out of this world. I also remember his mercurial temper too. He would just stop and wait for the accompanists to catch up if they missed a taal or slowed down. Overall a fantastic artist.

****. Bangalore N. Suresh born on July 7th, 1946, studied with Shivaramiah and K. Venkatarama.

**** B.N. Suresh was an Engineer by profession. Not sure if he trained under Mali (rumour was that he learnt by listening to Mali), but his flute playing was really fascinating.

**** On 10th January 2005 a unique programme was organised by close disciples of Late Bangalore K. Venkataram at the Veenapani Centre of Arts, Jayanagar, Bangalore. The programme started with a welcome address by Sri B.N.Ramesh during which he recalled his fond association with BKV and the affection of BKV for his brother Late B.N.Suresh and how he helped shape Suresh’s career.

**** Sudha Raghunathan has told in an interview that Suresh is one of her favorite Instrumentalists from the past.
Last edited by shadjam on 11 Sep 2007, 23:49, edited 1 time in total.


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