The prestigious eight-day 45th music conference under the aegis of Bangalore Gayana Samaja started with traditional flavour. Veteran violinist Mysore Mahadevappa who is presided over the conference was conferred with the title of Sangeetha Kalarathna.
A full-fledged and power - packed violin duet by the famed brother violinist-duo Kumaresh and Ganesh held on the first evening of the conference (Sunday) heralded the feast of music that was to follow. The brothers are accomplished violinists marked by marvellous fluency and clarity of articulation. Their extraordinary extensions at the top octaves of their violins are remarkable. And their fingers move with felicity in any area of the instrument. The seasoned violinists are firm in the definition of the melodies and even in its production, the tone, diamond-bright. In addition, they produce exemplary sound and music with an unlimited and dynamic range of expressiveness or the ability to “colour” or shade the tone.
I admire and am impressed by their accuracy in their instrumental play; it is pretty to hear series of notes in rapid passagework quite well and securely. Though the brothers enthralled the rasikas with their aesthetics and artistry, the outpourings of mutual appreciation on the stage seemed to be overdone and sounded unmusical too.
The zealous violin duet began with the Bilahari varna. Playing to a packed auditorium they rendered a rare and purely instrumental composition titled Raga Pravaham in Mayamalavagowla setting a congenial listening ambience. An enjoyable Sarasa saama daana in Kapinarayani was followed by a radiant Reetigowla. The delineation of Poorvi Kalyani raga for a fine Paramapavana Rama was notable for its brilliance and flexibility full of technical passages replete with scales, leaps and trills and pinpoint accuracy.
The selection of three ragas, tana and pallavi spoke volumes of their immaculate expertise and unfathomable manodharma. Kaanada, Bahudari and Hindola were the ragas and the pallavi was set to two kalai khanda triputal tala. The manodharmic exercises were in tune and with perfect rhythmic articulation, athletic agility, energetic and virtuosic violin play. The way they eagerly anticipated their next endeavours and each of them pushing or pulling the other to even higher levels of genius and skill, was praiseworthy. The Kannada composition Odi barayya Vaikunthapati with vocalisation by Ganesh was endearing. They were suitably supported by R Shankaranarayanan (mridanga) and Trichy Krishna (ghata).
Veteran vocalist T V Shankaranarayanan continues to be the most accomplished performer. His formidable technique permits him to toss the most elaborate Carnatic music. He utilises the opportunities to showcase his scholarship in the best possible manner with his impeccable style and agility. The concert held on the second day of the conference testified to his profound artistry. The declamation and expressiveness over vocal display had beauty and intelligence. As usual he was also able to lighten the atmosphere with his laya wizardry.
Accompanied by his equally talented son Mahadeva Shankaranarayanan, the ace vocalist sang with great style and complemented his father. Retaining freshness in his voice and beauty of the renditions his technical prowess was admirable. His nata was refreshing.
In singing Behag (Maara janaka) he proved to be an authentic artiste not only equipped with immense vocal and interpretative qualities but also endowed with a great desire to revive first rate music.
The expansive elaborations in Vachaspathi (Sahasrakara mandithe) and Bhairavi (Tanayuni brova) had a graceful approach to phrasing, a seamless and a palette of subtle vocal colourings. The music was quiet, beautifully luscious and sung with sensitivity and love. The rich manodharma-ornamentations had his own stamp and underscored his brand of singing. The dynamic range and the palette of expressive colouring of the presentations were superb.
Mysore M Nagaraj (violin) was magnificent, offering a delightful mix of challenging and exciting repartees of exquisite beauty. Srimushnam Rajarao (mridanga) and Ranganatha Chakravarthy (ghata) were complementary and excelled in their departments.
Dr Srivalsan Menon was in his fine form to present a lovely concert on Wednesday. It was a sober and balanced assessment of the pure classical Carnatic music. Singing an imposing repertoire was in itself was a refreshing experience. Sporting a voice capable also of sweetness and expression, he sang cleanly, with reliable intonation and in a genuine manner of a musician without the unwanted gimmickry. It was certainly a supple one with a remarkable facility in this demanding music.
He started with the Todi varna Era na pai in two kaalaas. A rare Patnam Subramanya Iyer krithi Dhanyudevvado in Malayamaruta raga had an enjoyable roundness, richness and resonance beautified by swarakalpana. Annapoorne Vishalakshi (Saama, Dikshitar) and Brihadambikayai namaste (Vasantha, Dikshitar) with kalpanaswaras in a delightful vilamba gati was sung with commendable assurance and verve, even panache, as well as evident enjoyment.
There was “juice” in his recital, cushion; the sweetness was in large supply in it. Beauty of tone or expressiveness in the voice was easily the most beautiful to be presented before the public in modern times in this repertoire - warm, round and evenly produced. Thus the following renditions Dharmavati (with alapana) for Bhajana seya raada (Mysore Vasudevachar), Ninnu jeppa karana (Mandari, Patnam Subramanya Iyer) and a fairly detailed
KAmbhoji (with alapana) for the mighty krithi O Rangashayi (Thyagaraja) with excellent sangathis were as serene as they should be and had a touch of class. The raga, tana and pallavi (Neerajakshi Kamakshi nikhila loka janani niranjani, thrishra triputa tala) in a demanding Dhanyasi raga lasted for about 30 minutes but was compact and comprehensive. The tana and neraval had some interesting phrases. The ragamalika comprising of Behag, Ritigowla and Hamsanandi ragas impressed the audience. However, the lyrics of the Kannada pada Rama Krishnaru manege bandaru could have been more clear.
H K Venkatram on the violin vied for equal honours successfully. H S Sudheendra on mridanga gave a restrained and sensitive support.