TN Krishnan – A Class Act

Musicians like him are different. They don’t rely on showmanship infact shy away from it. They don’t have Facebook and My Space accounts. They do not need to or feel the compulsion to produce something new other than music which in its profound simplicity reflects nothing but a Class Act. Their belief brings method to the madness, seeps into their personality, their art and everything they touch. The belief to make music first and music that sits well within the honed walls of this art form.

Therefore when he walked into the room,  I was immediately struck by the fact that I was looking at a man whose life spans an immense history rich in Carnatic Music for he had made music with none other than the very greatest of stalwarts such as Chembai, Musiri, Alathur Bros,

TR Mahalingam, GNB, SSI, Madurai Mani Iyer, Ariyakudi, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer. All of whom I have never had an opportunity to listen to live. So it was an awe inspiring moment to be in the presence of Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padma Bhushan T.N. Krishnan. No one befits that title more.

Accompanying him with a  prowess and humility was his daughter Viji Krishnan Natarajan, an outstanding violinist and torch bearer of the TNK’s special style of bowing.  The sounds of the flat second hit the walls and rebounded into my ears, the gentle tease of this note developed into a revealing of this beautiful raga by TN Krishnan I floated into the world of Chakravaagam as the song composed by Muthuswami Dikshidar in Gajananayutham Ganeshwaram was explored. If I collapsed into a quiet slumber of tranquility, TNK and Viji Krishnan exchanged a swara kalpana with a quick capture of the rhythm in an eight beat cycle bringing me back to the present.

The oscillating dynamism of TNK’s imagination from the depth of the melodic beauty  in Entharo Mahanubhavulu to the intellectual yet imaginative capture of quick rhythmic phraseology in Manavyalakim by himself and with all of his accompanying artists marks the reason why his concerts are well rounded and feel complete. But there was more to come when TNK explored the twisting mountainous landscape of Pantuvarali, the Sarasaksha Paripalaya that followed had the audience spellbound. Yet did I hear even one phrase repeated unnecessarily. Every ordinary phrase in Pantuvarali was lifted off its pages and given the ever green touch of TNK

If that was not enough of a highlight what followed in an exquisite treatment of Kafi was a Ragam Thanam Pallavi, the renda kalai kafi in the Pallavi, the words of which TNK told me later were “Parimala Ranga Pathe Mampahi” made famous by Ariyakudi Ramanujam. Viji introduction of Revathi made for a grand entrance and the thanam in this raga will be remembered by Sydney audience in years to come. The rhythmic accompaniment of Bhakthavathsalam whose exploration with his rolling left hand on the Mridangam added naadam. His exchanges with VR Gopalakrishnan on the Pot made for a breath taking scenic stop. The final theermanam’s never were once the usual “GrGrSNDP” but ended in an almost Hindustani conclusion, should I have been surprised !!

Many dignitaries Indian Counsel General Amit Dasgupta, SVT temple representatives and a spattering of westerners added a slightly different flavour to the usual South Indian populous of many a Pallavi concert. Is Pallavi breaking new ground ? Certainly, Sangeetha Kalanidhi TN Krishnan did, with his age defying act, in his eighties and still going……..

TN Krishnan continued to perform in Australia at the Newcastle University, Wollongong University, Monash University in Melbourne, in Brisbane, at the Macquarie University and in Canberra. Wollongong University has reveiwed his programme and posted a video clip that can be watched here

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