[Editor's Note: The concert
reports published here are voluntary contributions of rasikas, Sri.
Balasubramanian Sankar of Singapore and Balaveenai Sri. T. R.
Balakrishnan of Chennai. Any views and opinions expressed here are
entirely their own]
Bombay Sisters at Singapore, Sept. 19th 2004
Bombay sisters Saroja and Lalitha belong to the Old order of Carnatic Music.
Their successful partnership over the years is based on strong fundamentals –
Ivy league schooling is the first and foremost credential – their formative
learning was from the legendary Musiri Subramanya Iyer, considered by many to
be one of the best performer-cum-teacher of his times. The importance of
these formative years in Carnatic Music can never be overemphasized. It not
only shapes the skills, but also the attitudes (humility and respect are part
of it) , inculcates the fine balance between technical and aesthetic facets,
builds a formula for enduring success and most importantly, a commonsense
approach to catering to a varied audience. The ideal Guru teaches not only
the good lessons, but also helps to filter the rest. In these times of self
learning and tape-shishya parampara, this element is often missing. Saroja
and Lalitha back such a fantastic schooling with excellent programming sense,
kalapramana , passionate rendering and measured swara fireworks. Although the
proverbial age has caught up with Saroja’s voice, Lalitha revels in the
opportunity to play the lead.
concert at the Ceylon Ganesha Temple at Singapore on the occasion of Vinayaka
Chathurthi, was a testimony to these. A concert studded with Bhairavi (Viribhoni),
Kamas (Brochevarevarura), Kalyani and Kamboji as main pieces can never
undershine. The maturity of Music was reflected in the choice of ragas and
songs. The Nattai composition of Narayana Theertha ‘Jaya Jaya’ on Lord
Ganesha was a surprise inclusion, marking a bright start. Syama Sastry’s
Himadri suthe Pahimam is a very artistic kriti constructed mainly in the
middle octave and yet offers a lot of scope for delineating an appealing
Kalyani. It is not easy to paint a good and different first speed Neraval on
the back of an elegant alapana (as raga and not rhythm is the essence of both)
but that is precisely what the sisters achieved. The athletic concerts of
these days have snatched away the appeal of the first speed neraval, giving
prominence to the faster tempo and the rain of swaras. Tiruvadi Charanam of
Gopalakrishna Bharathi is one of the rare non-trinity kritis which is accorded
the same Hall of fame. It has its unique contours – especially in the Charanam
- (different from the many creations of Saint Tyagaraja and Dikshitar’s Sri
Subrahmanyaya Namasthe) and a powerful lyric, for those who can understand and
appreciate. Lalitha’s neraval sparkled once again at ‘Aduthu vantha ennai’ –
she is the ‘Aduthu vanthaval’ ! after sister Saroja !
the filler songs were sterling pieces like Manavyala in Nalinakanthi,
Arunachala Kavi’s ‘En Palli kondeerayya’ in Mohanam, Kaliyuga varadhan in
Brindavana Saranga. These are songs that have attained immortality and make
up for a sure formula of success among any audience class. T. R. Sundaresan of
SIFAS played a fine Tani and M Balakrishnan (also of SIFAS) complemented well
on the violin.
Smt. Pushpa Anand (Vocal), Melakaveri K. Thiagarajan (Violin), Arjun Ganesh (Mridangam),
K. V. Gopalakrishnan (Kanjira) at Thyagaraja Vidwat Samajam, Chennai, Sept.
There is a void in the Carnatic Music field after the demise of Sangita
Kalanidhi Smt. M. L. Vasantakumari. Smt Puspha Anand a disciple of MLV and
now learning from Sri. P. S. Narayanaswamy, took the rasikas down an MLV
memory lane. Pushpa is good at namasankeerthanams and Marathi abhangs too and
was an important performing member of Swami Haridas Giri's group. Her mother
Smt. Ananthalakshmy is a Ganabhooshanam from the Swati Tirunal Academy of
Music, Trivandrum and is her first guru. Pushpa is gifted with a sweet
melodious voice. She is cine play back singer too.
Pushpa started with the Kedaragowla varnam, 'Sami dayajooda' of Tiruvottiyur
Thiagayyar briskly. Sakthiganapathim of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar in
Nattai raga was well rendered with good swara prastaras.After "Janakiramana"
in Shuddhaseemantini raga, in MLV 's pathantara. Puspha the gave a well built
Ritigowla alapana and the kriti was 'Oraru mugane umayal thirumagane', a
rarely heard composition of Sri Neelakanta Sivan. The janta prayogams therein
are noteworthy. 'Kamalacharane' of GNB in Amritabehag, a raga coined by GNB
himself, was beautifully rendered but without the original chittaswaram. The
scale of this raga is Arohana: Sa ga ma pa ni sa (of Amritavarshini with
prathimadhyama and kakali nishada) and Avarohanam: sa ni tha pa ma ga ma ga ri
sa (of Behag with kaisiki nishadam and shuddha madhyamam usages), and indeed a
beautiful blend from GNB. 'Narayana' in Shuddhadhanyasi of Purandaradasa, said
to be tuned by MLV's mother Lalithangi and favourite of MLV was neatly sung.
Next was 'Ninnadanela' in Kannada raga of Tyagaraja in fast tempo. The
accompaniments sportively enhanced the presentation. Puspha took Kalyani as
main raga, elaborately singing the alapana with trademark GNB and MLV phrases.
The kriti was "Pankajalochana" of Swati Tirunal in Mishra Chapu in PSN's
pathantara. The niraval at 'Brindavana' was elaborate with her sweet voice
co-operating throughout. Annamacharya's 'Bhavayami Gopalam' in Yamunakalyani
raga was well rendered with the sliding brigas. Few know that the late
Kadayanallur Venkataraman set the tune overnight for this song. The popular
abhang 'Satkriboswami' in Mishra Sarasangi, a favourite of Sri Haridas Giri
was rendered in its true sprit of elevating Bhakti rasa. The tani avartanam
was executed splendidly in tandem.