October 23, 2010 - Sri. S.U. Sitaram Memorial Concert at Fine Arts Society, Chembur - Mumbai.
Time: 6:30 PM - 9:50 PM
Smt. Sumithra Vasudev - Vocal
Sri. R.K. Shriram Kumar - Violin
Sri. K. Arun Prakash - Mridangam
Sri. Guruprasad - Ghatam
Two tamboora artistes - names could not catch (apologies)
1. marachiyunDE - bEgaDa varnam - khaNDa aTa - paTnam subrahmaNya iyEr
2. shrI mahAgaNapati - gauLa - mishra chApu - muthuswAmy dIkshitar
3. shrI guruguha mUrtE - udayaravichandrikA - tishra Eka - muthuswAmy dIkshitar (R, S)
4. rAmanAtham bhajEham - kAshirAmakriyA - tishra Eka (2) - muthuswAmy dIkshitar (R, N, S) N and S at kAmithaphala prada dEvam
5. karuNinchuTaku - sindhumandAri - Adi - paTnam subrahmaNya iyEr
6. jambUpatE - yamunA kalyANi - tishra Eka (2) - muthuswAmy dIkshitar
7. Emani nE nI mahima - mukhAri - Adi (2) - subbrAya sAstry (R)
8. shrI jAlandaramAshrayAmyaham - gambhIra nATTai - Adi (2) - jayachAmarAja ODEyAr
9. RTP kharaharapriyA - 'Ananda pUrNa bhOdOham shivOham sacchi' - khaNDa jhampa (khaNDa gati) - rAgamAlika swaras in asAvEri, pUrvikalyANi, aTAnA and bEhAg followed by tani Avartanam
10. kalyANOllAsa - rAgamAlika shlOkam in mOhanam, varALi, sahAna and sindhubhairavi
11. bhajarE shrI rAmam - sindhubhairavi - Adi - ??
12. aDaikkalam aDaikkalam - madhyamAvati - Adi - ambujam krishnA
My views on the concert
This concert was a testimony to that fact that Carnatic music can be sung without compromising on the weight, classicism and pAThAntharam. It was also a proof to the fact that audience interest can be sustained with classical heavy pieces and ragas and to the fact that ragas can be sung sticking to lakshanas without making them 'boring' or making it feel like a tightrope walk. This concert was a rebuttal of the theory that audience needs this and that thereby justifying mediocre stuff. One need not take to "hissing' and 'crooning' with a earphone playing the shruti to capture audience attention. It was maDi (Tamil word for unpolluted) music from the start to the finish.
Sangeeta Kalanidhi Smt. R. Vedavalli's birthday gift could not have been better. What better gift from her senior most student, than this concert!. It was her 75th Birthday (Star) today and Smt. Vedavalli and her husband Sri. Santhanam were a part of the audience for Smt. Sumithra's concert. Vedavalli amma was felicitated at the start of the programme (I believe it was a surprise for her)
The concert began with a brisk rendition of the aTa tALa varnam of paTnam in rAga bEgaDa followed by the ever green gauLa kriti of MD.
What followed next was a surprise - alapna of udayaravichandrikA (not suddha dhanyAsi) - this raga has the higher nishAdam and is classified as a janyA of mEla 9. The pentatonic scale is identical to the more popular suddha dhanyAsi except for the nishAdam. Sumithra's raga vinyAsa was admirable - without being scalar, at the same time skillfully avoiding suddha dhanyAsi and gauLa like piDis. The pa ni sa here is similar to gauLa, which was sung prior to this. The song, of course, I felt was a tribute to the teacher - in this case Smt. Vedavalli. Sumithra sang a few rounds of second speed swaras at the pallavi line. A challenging piece, I must say, and it was excecuted with aplomb.
Next was a lesson in singing kAmavardhini/panthuvarALi - when she delineated the raga. Sticking to what is told usually, Sumithra did not venture below the lower nishAdam, and did a quick traverse of the upper gandhAra without staying on the gAndharam as is the NORM nowadays, If the voice permitted, I think vocalists would go and stay at the upper dha also for this rAga, Just because every one sings it and just because it does not sound bad - does NOT make it correct. rAmanAtham was a surprise choice since there were two MD kritis already. It was welcome, as it is a personal favorite. The three speed neraval at the first line of the anupallavi covering 4 avartanAs was challenging to say the least.
The sindhumandAri piece was a 'filler' in the real sense of the word, before another surprise inclusion - jambUpatE - it was a MD treat today and I do not think Prashant (in whose grandpa's memory the concert was organised) was complaing!!
The kAlapramANam and the rendition was perfect. The pAThAntaram was slightly different from the DKJ version that is commonly heard. What followed next was a lesson in mukhAri. The alapana was rivetting, covering all the nuances of the raga, Sumithra was in sublime form here and one could not but marvel at the ease with which sanchAras flowed. A highly commendable effort. The choice of the rare kriti could not have been better. Only the kriti was sung sustaining the meditative mood that was created during the rAga vistAra. One definitely knew that there was a pallavi in the concert, surprise was that the tani was to be given for the pallavi!. shrI jAlandharamAshrayAmyaham (covering the vAyu lingam after appu linga - jambUpatE) came next. The chiTTa swara passage was sung clearly without any muffle in the voice. The janTa prayOgas came out as janTa - without loss of clarity.
The stage was set for a grand pallavi and kharaharapriya was chosen for detailed treatment, The raga sung in a single phase was complete with sancharas in all three ocatves. Tanam was short and the pallavi in khaNDa jAti jhampa khaNDa naDai was as follows
Eduppu 4 aksharas from samam in a 40 aksahra cycle. the arudi was 9 akshara counts.
A nan da (3 + 3 + 1)
pUr na (6 + 2)
ham (9 - arudi)
sacchi (4) - this will account for the eduppu of 4.
Pallavi neraval was fulfilling, sung at half and double speed. Tishram was also done, followed by swaras. The ragamalika suite had surprises in the form of asAvEri and pUrvikalyANi as one is normally used to madhuvantis and vAsantis these days. Special mention needs to be made of the bEhAg swara which was lilting. The reverse sequence leading to the main raga (as is the norm in the Mudicondan school) was also aesthetically done. The tisram had to be started a second time as there was a small error during the first attempt. A minor glitch in an otherwise flawless execution. Pallavi was given the pride of place in this concert.
The Tani was very nice, with Guruprasad excelling the second round solo chance. The korvai was a short one of 28 aksharas (56 in double speed).
One thought that the post main pieces will be on the 'lighter side' as they are called tukkadas.... but no, here we had mOhanam, a superb varALi and a soulful sahAna for the viruttam. The sindhubhairavi was too classical. This is a raga which I do nto personally enjoy, however, I must admit - I was in awe of her rendition. Mami's patented aDaikkalam brought the curtains down on a memorable concert.
RKS's violin accompaniment was of course of high order. His accompaniment for the udayaravichandrikA kriti (which he of course knows), the rAga vinyAsa of kAshirAmakriya, mukhAri deserve special mention. The balE's that punctuated during the kAshirAmakriyA and mukkhAri alapanas of Sumithra, were, I guess form him. His neraval and swaras in rAmanAtham matched the vigor that Sumithra displayed. The percussion bench lent solid support. Arun Prakash was his sensitive best, his playing for the kriti in mukhAri and rAmanAtham deserve special mention. The ghatam accompaniment enhanced the effect of the renditions of Sumithra. As already mentioned, the second solo phase during tani was of high order.
There is a tendency to associate maDi sangItham with lack of briskness / speed etc. Today's concert debunked all this - briga sangathis were presented neatly (as one would say in tamil - without pisuru) in Sumithra's alapanas of kAshirAmakriyA, kharaharapriya and to lesser extent in mukhAri (keeping in mind the rakti aspect of this raga). The swaras were really brisk and powerful (for lack of a better word). They had the punch to keep the audience rivetted. There was NO banging of thighs, tightrope mathematics to keep the tempo and audience interest....yet layam and kaNakku were ingrained in the presentation.
My wife used one sentence which i think described the experience.... Sumithra has soaked herself in mami's music for the last 20 years, like a rasagulla in sugar syrup, so it is no surprise that the concert was of such a high order.
This has been a month with two great concerts in a row for me (Suguna P and V - review of which I started posting but could not finish due to lack of time) AND this one. I will get around to writing the other review soon.
Thank you Prashant and family for organising this wonderful concert, and thanks to the team for the great evening of classical music.
Last edited by arunsri
on 24 Oct 2010, 18:19, edited 1 time in total.