Navarathri Mandapam Concerts Reviews

[G.Harisundar Staff Reporter , The Hindu

The music lovers of the capital city of Thiruvananthapuram were once again given a sumptuous feast of Carnatic music by several artistes at the prestigious Navarathri Mandapam of the Sree Padmanabhaswami temple. The festival got off in the absence of the doyen of Carnatic music, Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, who had to cancel his 60th Navarathri Mandapam concert due to his ill health.

Marked by a style of his own, veteran vocalist, T.K. Govinda Rao presented a pleasing concert on the opening day. The concert started off with Daani Samajendra (thodi) varnam), rather unsung varnam, Deva deva jagadiswara (Purvikalyani) and Sarojanabha (Chakravakam) were sung with beauty.

The main item of the day, Devi jagatjanani (Sankarabharanam) was presented with its traditional beauty. Despite his sore throat, the vocalist presented a pleasing alapana of Sankarabharanam which had its grandeur in all aspects of ragabhava. The pleasing thanam was followed by the Krithi and manodharama swaras. The other items included Reenamada (Behag) and Jagadeesa (Nathanamakriya).

The violin accompaniment provided by M. Chandrasekharan was off the track on certain occasions during the support for the krithis. The 'Palakkad Mani Iyer bani' came lively with the pleasing mridangam accompaniment provided by the maestro's son, T.R. Rajamani.

Thrissur V. Ramachandran noted for the GNB style presented a concert which was noted for the powerful flowing 'bringas' and speedy swaras. Starting off the concert with Pahi sreepathe (Hamsadhwani), the artist presented neat essay of Hamsanandi featuring Pahi jagat janani with some pleasing swaras.

The main item of the day, Pahimam Sree Vagiswari (Kalyani) was presented with perfectness. The raga presented in his masters’s style was a treat to the listeners. The speedy rendition of the Krithi and the manodharma swaras were marked by technical excellence in company of Dr. T.K. Moorthy.

A pleasing violin accompaniment was provided by Mysore Manjunath. The essays of Hamsanandi and Kalyani were noteworthy. The Tanjavur bani was well displayed through the soft accompaniment by Dr. T.K. Moorthy (Mridangam) who gave a dutiful accompaniment. The thani avarthanam was a treat to the listeners.

Over the years, Aswathi Tirunal Rama Varma, a member of the royal family of erstwhile Travancore has developed a style which on certain occasions resembled the style of M.D. Ramanathan. A style which is difficult to adhere with, the presentations by Rama Varma has glimpses of the maestro at certain instances. Though the artiste was presenting his maiden concert at the mandapam, the effort made by the artiste to present some unheard krithis of Swathi Tirunal is praiseworthy.

The concert started off with the unheard Saa Vaa maarusha (Kamas varnam). The tempo was kept lively with Devadeva Kalyani (Mayamalavagaula), Bhavati viswaso (Mukhari) and Rama rama pahi (Devagandhari). The concert got to great heights with the artiste choosing to sing Anandavalli kurumuda (Nilambari) with great verve. The manodharma swaras for this krithi were a treat to the listeners.

The listeners in the mandapam were presented with an exquisite alapana of Saveri which featurd Devi Pavane in adi thalam, the main item of the day. The ability of the artiste to travel through the minute nuances of the raga with the sancharas from the lower octave to the higher ones was pleasing. The main item was followed by Smara janaka (Behag).

In these days, when certain violinistes tend to overtake the vocalists through harsh bowing techniques, V.V.S. Murari (Violin), the youngest among the artistes at the mandapam excelled through his dutiful accompaniment. The soft velvette touches provided by him during the accompaniment for the songs and his essays of manodharma swaras for Nilambari and the essay of Saveri were a mark of the immense caliber in him. R. Ananthakrishnan (Mridangam) provided able support throughout the concert.

The fourth day at the Navarathri mandapam provided a fine veena recital by A. Ananthapadmanabhan, a new entrant at the mandapam this year. Playing on the veena in a style of his own, Ananthapadmanabhan presented pleasing renditions in an exhilarating style. The rendition of Amrithavarshini raga was pleasing and the artiste gave a neat picture of a rather unheard piece, Ahathanaiva jaane. Tuned by himself, Ananthapadmanabhan presented Jamuna Kinare in Shyamkalyan and Viswara darsana (Sindhubairavi).

The main item of the day was Bharathi mavava (Thodi) which was played by the artiste with great verve. The artiste gave a neat picture of raga through the traditional sancharas which contained the slow sangathis and the faster ones. The pleasing alapana of the raga was followed by a powerful thanam.

An extremely efficient accompaniment was provided by B. Harikumar (Mridangam). A reverberating thaniavarthanam was also presented by the artiste.

Apart from being a vocalist, Rama Varma, who is also a veena artiste presented a short veena recital at the mandapam which was marked by technical excellence in a traditional style. Gopalaka Pahimam (Revagupthi), Reenamada (Behag), Aliveni (Kurinji) and Mamava Padmanabha (Varali). The alapana of Verali was marked by perfectness. R. Ananthakrishnan (Mridangam) provided able support.

The Navarathri days offer a grand feast of carnatic music for the music lovers of the capital city. The concerts which got of to a great start with the inaugural concert of veteran T.K. Govinda Rao was later carried on by several eminent artistes. However, it is a pity that very few artistes prefer to render new compositions of Swathi Tirunal. Though there are several seasoned campaigners at the mandapam, very few artistes take pains to learn the unsung krithis of the composer and present them at the mandapam.

One among the popular artistes in the music field, Madurai, T.N. Seshagopalan presented a concert which lacked several aspects of a good concert. Starting off the concert with the varnam in Kamboji, Seshagopalan presented renderings of Mamava sada (Kanada) and Karunakara (Begada). The artiste presented a pleasing alapana of Begada which was filled with a refreshing finesse. Though the artiste has the ability of rendering manodharma swaras with great vigour and speed, the artiste was seen going off the track at several occasions.
A pleasing alapana of Bhairavi was presented by Seshagopalan which was filled with the brisk sancharas and pleasing raga bhava. The sangathis in the raga were praiseworthy for the manner in which the artiste portrayed his potential to convey his musical ideas. The pleasing thanam was followed by the rendition of Janani mamava. The brisk manodharma swaras sung by the artiste was also pleasing.

Though the alapana of ragas and swaras were pleasing, the careless attitude exhibited by the artiste during the rendition of the krithis marred the effect of the concert. The sahithya in the krithis was strongly rendered in most of the renderings, which is rather an unexpected one from the part of a seasoned artiste.

An effective accompaniment was provided by. T.H. Subraminam (Violin) and Kamalakar Rao (Mridangam). The essays of Begada and Bhairavi were pleasing. A pleasing thaniavarthanam was also provided.

A concert soars to greater heights if an artiste prefers to adhere to the sampradaya system of carnatic music and in the company of seasoned accompanists. The music concert of P.S. Narayanaswami on the sixth day at the mandapam was a treat to the music lovers who prefer traditional system of music rather than the vocal gymnastics. An adhernt of the 'Semmangudi bani', P.S. Narayanaswami despite his age presented a scholarly concert which featured the rendering of several new krithis of Swathi Tirunal. The concert started off with Parama Pavana (Anandabhairavi varnam), an unknown varnam of Swathi Tirunal. The artiste later presented Palayamamayi bho (Kamas), Ahathanaiva jaane (Amrithavarshini) and Parama Purusha (Vasantha). A pleasing alapana of Kedaragoula was followed by the krithi Jalajanabha with some pleasing swaras. A scholarly rendition of Thodi featuring 'Pankajaksha thava' in Chapu thala was marked by the smooth raga alapana which presented the raga bhava with grandeur.

The highlight of day was Saroruhasana jaaye (Panthuvarali). The short alapana of the raga with all the traditional sancharas was well enjoyed by the handful of listeners at the mandapam. The thanam, neraval and manodharma swaras were rendered pleasingly. Dhyayami (Madhyamavathi) was also rendered by the artiste.

Dr. Chalakudi. N.S. Narayanaswami (Violin) gave adequate support to the artiste. The 'Palakkad Mani Iyer Bani' which is noted for the pleasing accompaniment for the songs came lively through the soulful accompaniments of Thiruvananthapuram V. Surendran (Mridangam), one among the disciples of the mridangam wizzard. The accompaniment provided by the percussionist for the songs and the playing on the mridangam for the thanam rendering were a mark of the potential of the percussionist. A pleasing thani avarthanam was also presented by the percussionist.

The seventh day featured a satisfying concert by V. Subramaniam, a disciple of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. A blessing alapana of Palayamamayi bho (kamas), Pahi jagatjanani (Vachaspathi) were presented by the artiste. The main item of the day Janani Pahi (Sudhasaveri) was rendered with its own respect in a neat manner. T.K.V. Ramanujacharyalu (Violin) and Mavelikkara Velukkutty Nair (Mridangam) provided able support throughout the concert.

Palakkad K.V. Narayanaswami, one among the regular performers at the mandapam was not in his elements on the eighth day at the mandapam. Though the artiste presented satisfactory alapana of Nattakurinji and Vasantha, there were several lapses in the sahithya aspect. Though the artiste was provided vocal support by his disciples, none of them were able to recollect the sahithya which their guru had forgotten.

The main item was pahi janani (Nattakurinchi) which was rendered in a pleasing manner. A ragamalika slokam from 'Bhakthi manjari', Aliveni enthu (Kurinji) and Saramaina (Behag) were also rendered by the artiste.

T.K.V. Ramanujacharyulu (Violin) and Mannargudi Eswaran (Mridangam) provided able support.

The series of concerts concluded with the concert of Dr. M. Balamurlaikrishna, who presented his maiden concert at the mandapam. The main item of the day pahi parvatha nandini (Arabhi) was pleasingly rendered, though there was no neraval. However, the artiste least bothered to give importance to the sahithyas of krithis. Barring the bhajans, the concert came out to be a failure, much against the expectation of his fans, who had turned up in large numbers.

M.A. Sundaresan (violin) and Guruvayur Dorai (Mridangam) provided the support.


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