Singapore’s Carnatic music rasikas were treated to a bonanza on Friday Jan 27, as the three day Madhuradhwani series got off to a scintillating start. A short concert by VK Manimaran kicked off the day’s proceedings. Manimaran’s main piece, Papanasam Sivan’s Kshirasagarasayee in Raga Poorvikalyani was well rendered. He was well supported by violinist Raghavendra Rao, and HS Sudhindraon the mridangam. Next, Sanjay Subrahmanyan took stage for his vocal performance. The concert was dazzling and typically power packed. Technically sound, and with the familiar aspects of ragas adroitly mixed with Sanjay’s experimental exploration of ragas, made for an excellent concert for both the novice as well as the learned listener. Starting with the Aadhi tala varnam in Pantuvarali, Sanjay moved on quickly to Purandaradas’s Jaya JayaJanaki in Naatai. Evarikai in Devamanohari in Misra chappu taalam made for good change of laya. Sanjay chose Unnaiyallal Vere Gati in Kalyani as a main piece. This is a Papanasam Sivan composition, an old favorite of Maharajapuram Santhanam. The alapana, niraval and swaram were all smoothly performed by Sanjay and didn’t particularly stand out for technical or performance prowess. Anandavalli, Swatitirunal’s padam is a beautiful composition in praise of the goddess Anandvalli, in the soporific raga, Neelambari. Sanjay did justice to it, rendering it charmingly and emotively, particularly the chittaswaram, which left the listener yearning for more. Sanjay chose a simple tala, 2 kalai Aadi for his Ragam taanam pallavi in Kamas. The swaras in raga malika included Darbari Kanada which he rendered in Hindustani style; a listener who heard just that piece could easily walk away thinking that he or she had heard a concert in Hindustani style. Embar Kannan on the violin was a dream accompanist, mimicking Sanjay’s style effortlessly; perfection and bhava apparent in every note and phrase. Singapore rasikas would love to see much more of him. Tanjavoor Murugabhoopathy and KV Gopalakrishnan on the Mridangam and Kanjira were controlled and accompanied appropriately. Sanjay engaged well with his accompanists, and his audience via the music. His impromptu playfulness with phrases during swara rendition, with great team work from the accompanists, made the otherwise technical pieces accessible to the audience. Sanjay seemed to enjoy himself during the concert, with plenty of smiles and appreciation shared among all of the artistes, making it a memorable experience for all.
Day 2 of the Madhuradhwani,organized by Music Circle Singapore was an absolute delight to Carnatic music lovers in Singapore. Performing to a packed auditorium of 650, both V.Shankaranarayanan and Bombay Jaishree enthralled audiences.
Shankar, who juggles a dual career as a leading vocalist as well as a senior Banking executive, showed off his clear and resonant voice from the start, with LalgudiJayaraman’svarnam, Chalamu in raga Valaji. The niraval at Vamadevaparvathi in the DikshitarKrithiSwaminatha in Nattai, was expertly done and was a good combination of the flashy and more somber, all done within the framework of the raga. Shankar displayed his deep understanding of Shanmukhapriya through an elaborate alapana which showed flashes of brilliant originality. He rendered Sivan’s ParvathiNayakane with good voice modulation, and bhava.
The main piece was Thyagaraja’s O Rangasayee in Kamboji, an amazing and deep krithi that allows the student as well as the performer plenty of room to explore and express. Thispiece, particularly the swarams felt a bit hurried; I look forward to a more relaxed rendition of O Rangasayeeand kambojifrom Shankar in subsequent concerts. With a strong sense of rhythm, alapana style that has a good combination of long and short phrases, brigas that combines bhava and laya, and energetic swara singing, Shankar is very pleasing to the ear.
Shankar’s dedication to music and his growing maturity as a top performer over the past few years are admirable.Shankar was ably supported by Raghevendra Rao on the violin, HS Sudhindra on the mridangam and Satish Sista on the kanjira.
How does one write a review about Bombay Jayashri’s performance without resorting to hyperboles? It was a performance that touched the heart and won her a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. While a demanding rasika could critique the concert for producing nothing surprising, it was nevertheless a very touching concert. Jayashri’s grace and her immersion in music, bring out the soul stirring quality in her singing. Her ability to connect with the audience at a deep level makes her a performer par-excellence. EmbarKannan, who accompanied Jayashri on the violin, was integral to the success of the concert. He shared the limelight with Jayashri at several stages of the concert, with his perfect bowing and manodharma in exploring the ragas.
Jayashri started somewhat unconventionally but beautifully, with Deva DevaJagadeeshwara, Swati Tirunal’skrithi in Poorvikalyani. This was followed by a few popular krithis across a range of ragas: Begada (SankariNeeve), Ranjani (RanjaniNiranjani), Sahana (ChittamIrangadenayya), leading up to a very energetic rendition of DhariniTelusokonti in SuddhaSaveri.
The alapana in Kharaharapriya was absolutely outstanding, both Jayashri and Kannan expounded the raga beautifully, giving us a full flavor of the raga and Thyagaraja’sRama Ni Samanameveruwas beautifully rendered. The best part of the concert for me was the RagamTanamPallavi in Desh, known more as a Hindustani raga. The alapana was exquisite and Jayashri wove in the Hindustani style of singing expertly creating a meditative ambience. The pallaviset to khandatriputatalamwith the elegant sahitya “VaradeSharadeSakalaShubhade” sounded like it just had to be in Desh! The seamless and quick changes of ragas during the swarams in raga malika format, includingHameerkalyani, Malayamarutam and Amirthavarshini required an amazing level of expertise but to the listener it was all one smooth flow of melody.
TanjavurMurugabhupathy on the Mridangam and KV Gopalakrishnan on the kanjira impressed with their delightful playingmatched well to Jayashri’s style of singing. The tani was well structured and impressed the audience. Jayashri is selective about her performances and rasikas in Singapore are indeed fortunate to have been able to hear her in a full length concert.