U Rajesh – Rama Seva Mandali – April 26, 2015

U. Rajesh’s Mandolin concert at Rama Seva Mandali was a tribute to his brother, Padma Shri, (Mandolin) U Shrinivas, who passed away in Sept., 2014. The concert was OK and happened with all compositions requested by the audience.

Rajesh was accompanied by Delhi Sunderrajan on Violin, Padma Vibhushan Dr. Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman on Mridangam and Amrit on Khanjira.

  1. Sree Raga Varnam
  2. Vatapi Ganapathim Bhaje – Hamsadhwani
  3. Seetamma Maayamma – Vasantha
  4. Maru Balka – Sriranjani
  5. Makelara Vicharamu – Ravichandrika
  6. Endaro Mahanubhavulu – Sree Ragam
  7. Swara Raga Sudha – Sankarabharanam
  8. Nagumomu Ganaleni – Abheri
  9. Entha muddo – BinduMalini
  10. Jagadodharana – Kapi
  11. Raghuvamsa Sudha – Kadana Kutuhalam
  12. Some Bhajan in Revathi
  13. Alaipayuthe – Kanada

The concert started with a Sree Raga Varnam in 3 speeds and few Kalpana Swaras. One of the favorite U Shrinivas’ ragas, Hamsadhwani followed, which took off well initially. He played Kalpana Swaras with very high speed on “karambuja paasa beeja poorvam” phrase which was OK almost throughout, but surprisingly ended the rendition with them and didn’t finish charanam.

Endaro Mahanubhavulu was rushed through so fast, perhaps with an intention to cover all the compositions requested by the audience. This programme didn’t go in a traditional Carnatic instrumental concert way with an elaborate composition and RTP, as Rajesh chose to play all/most of the compositions requested by audience. Swara Raga Sudha in Sankarabharanam was again ran through when we were all expecting a detailed elaboration of ragam.

Nagumomu can be considered close to the “main” composition of the night, with a (relatively) short aalapana by Mandolin and Violin (and this was the first moment I could hear Violin substantially – till then the presence was not felt). At the end, Rajesh signalled Sivaraman to start Tani Avarthanam but the latter declared that he didn’t want to play (as he wants to “just accompany” Rajesh in this concert), while reminiscing the past moments with U Shrinivas and Rajesh. Abheri aalapana was very well presented on both melody instruments, while the kalpana swaras went a little fashionable way.

Kapi aalapana and Jagadodharana was again soulful on Mandolin, as he started rushing through compositions. When organizers requested Sivaraman again for Tani Avarthanam, he played a short one after Alaipayuthe in Kanada. I left after then, as it was getting a little late.

In total, the concert was more of galata (if I can say that, a popular term used in Bengaluru/Karnataka, to refer to a little too extravagant demonstration on stage) and fashionable way of playing in high speeds. I must say, there were obviously a few moments when it was actually amazing, especially in raaga aalapanas. Mridangam was a little louder throughout. A few moments in Endaro Mahanubhavulu and Raghuvamsa Sudha showed the U. Shrinivas’ flavour but otherwise, I felt the concert could have been planned and executed well in a more traditional way.

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Dr. K J Yesudas – Rama Seva Mandali – April 11, 2015

Dr. K J Yesudas (KJY) has always been my favorite playback singer along with the legendary singer of south India, Sri Ghantasala. My admiration towards KJY has gone up exponentially after I started following his Carnatic concerts and this concert happens to be one of them.

KJY, following his tradition for many decades, performed for Sri Rama Seva Mandali in Fort High School Grounds and was witnessed by a huge crowd. I guess the foot fall would have been no less than 1500!

KJY was accompanied by Sri S R Mahadeva Sarma (Violin), Sri K V Prasad (Mridangam) and Sri T N Radhakrishnan (Ghatam). A wonderful treat to the ears for more than 3 hours was planned with a mix of famous and rare compositions.

  1. Era Naa Pai – Todi Aadi tala varnam
  2. Vatapi Ganapatim Bhaje – Hamsadhwani
  3. Gurunatha anugrahi – Pushpalathika
  4. Sri Rama Manohara Krupasagara
  5. Samaja Varagamana – Hindolam
  6. Rama nannu brovara – Harikambhoji
  7. Etula brothuvo – Chakravakam
  8. Govardhana giridhara
  9. Dasarathe Daya sarathe – Kokilapriya*
  10. Some bhajan on Sabari Ayyappa
  11. Alaipayuthe – Kanada
  12. Manninda kaaya Manninda
  13. Rama Rama Rama Seetha Ramana Papa Harana – Huseni
  14. Some Sai Baba bhajan on “Alla Malik…”
  15. A Bhajan on Guruvaayurappa
  16. Hari Haratmajam – Ayyappa Bhajan song
  17. Pavamaana suthudu – Sourashtram

While going to the programme, I was hoping for a Todi composition from KJY and guess what, he started with the Todi Aadi Tala varnam, Era Naa Pai. Even the rain god wanted to hear the Gaana Gandharvan live and started to pour down suddenly and heavily meanwhile. He ended the varnam with a few extra Kalpana Swaras.

Vaatapi Ganapatim Bhaje is a very famous krithi and that, with KJY’s fastest monadharma swaras felt very special. He then started the Pushpalathika aalapana and when everyone in the audience were wondering what Ragam it is, he announced the name and also explained the differences among Pushpalathika, Madhyamavathi and Sree Ragas.

I must admit I have become a huge fan of violinist, Mahadeva Sarma. The last time I heard him was also when he accompanied KJY and this time too, he was excellent! Samaja Varagamana was the best vocal rendition I heard till date. It was so sweet and was amazingly complemented by violin and percussion instruments for Niraval and Kalpana Swaras. A couple of rare compositions in Harikambhoji and Chakravakam followed before the Kokilapriya, which was the highlight and main composition for the night.

* KJY explained little nuances in singing Kokilapriya correctly. It was so heart-warming to see someone addressing students (he did the same last year too) amidst a majority crowd of grey hairs. He explained the right and wrong ways of using Gamakam on “Gandharam (Ga)” which lead to different expression and ragam. The composition was very well presented with Niraval and Kalpana Swaras. Tani avarthanam was one of the best I heard till date. Notable point is, this was ninth composition of the night and he presented Kalpana swaras to all but one.

The concert ended with a few KJY trademark bhajans on Sabari Ayyappa, Guruvayurappa (talks about him too, saying he is his Appa and is in his heart!) and Sai Baba. KJY ends the program with the traditional Sowrashtram Mangalam and rain got subsided too, slowly. Guess, why it rained? He wanted to attend the concert too and was expressing happiness by pouring like cats and dogs.

My heart wants to meet KJY now more than ever, and let’s see when and how it is set to happen! 🙂

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival – April 9, 2015

It was yet another magical, elegant, “Dr. Jayanthi stamped” (if I may say) concert and I am glad after a long wait I could finally attend her solo concert. In most cases for me, if it is first time, it has to be with Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh and yes, this was my first concert that I watched live streaming! Thanks to iCarnatic.org for helping Rasikas in India watch the concerts for free.

This is for Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival and for the first time that I watched Dr. Jayanthi live in these 2.5 years, she was accompanied by another melody instrument too. I have seen her performing many Jugalbandis with Vid. Kumaresh, Dr. Mysore Manjunath and others but this is her solo concert.

Jayanthi Akka at Cleveland Aradhana

Dr. Jayanthi was accompanied by Anuradha Sridhar (Violin), Mannargudi Easwaran (Mridangam) and N. Guru Prasad (Ghatam). It was indeed an emotional concert for Dr. Jayanthi as her PeriAppa (Husband of her Guru and Aunt, Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan, passed away a night before) and in her words, the concert was planned with all compositions/ragas that he would have liked.

  1. Sahana Varnam
  2. Aparadhamula norva – Lathangi
  3. Sukhi Evaro – Kanada
  4. Nenarunchara naapaini – Simhavahini
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi (RTP) – Sarasangi
  6. Chandrasekhara – Sindhu Bhairavi

Concert started with a customary Varnam and what better than Sahana Ragam!!! I just get the feeling, Sahana rendition from the Lalgudi school is a must-listen for Rasikas. I don’t have knowledge to comment further, but their rendition stands apart from others’.

Aparadhamula norva was a classic in Lathangi and it has all the stamp of Lalgudi Bani. Anuradha (is Dr. Jayanthi’s cousin and daughter of Lalgudi Srimathi Brahmanandam) also hailing from the Lalgudi school, provided excellent support to Dr. Jayanthi’s scintillating sangathis.

Next came, the soul-stirring (borrowed this word from Cleveland’s official page) Kanada and that aalapana says it all – what this concert meant to her, because of the event that preceded it, and that stood the best Kanada rendition I have ever heard. I was in so much awe that I couldn’t figure out what the composition was and the Kalpana swaras followed it too, which I would call Dr. Jayanthi’s magic! I wish I knew better vocabulary to express the same.

A very short aalapana of Simhavahini (first time for me) was followed by Thyagaraja’s composition Nenarunchara naapaini that was so beautiful.

The RTP is always something that I wait for in concerts. Dr. Jayanthi didn’t announce the Ragam but I think it was Charukesi but it was Sarasangi. A typical long soulful rendition of Ragam was followed by “Dr. Jayanthi – special” Tanam in short bursts by both the melodic instruments. She played some excellent pieces of Tanam, amazingly complemented by Anuradha. The pallavi, which was a little longer, was dedicated to Devi and well composed. Kalpana Swaras were again amazingly presented. She demonstrated some great pattern to transition from main Ragam to the other Ragas for Raga maalika. Tani avarthanam was sweet and short too.

The concert ended with a short Sindhu Bhairavi aalapana followed by Chandrasekhara composition. It was so heartening to have watched this concert from 3 AM to 5 AM IST. Wonderful gesture from organizing committee by requesting everyone to stand up and observe a minute of silence to the great soul that departed a night before.

As usual, no words in any language can explain my admiration towards Dr. Jayanthi and her music and I am looking forward to her next concert soon! 🙂

Ranjani-Gayathri – Rama Seva Mandali – April 5, 2015

Ranjani-Gayathri (RaGa) are amazing vocal duo and each time I listen to them live, my admiration towards them grows in multiple folds. An excellent concert this was, and what a way to end weekend!

RaGa are accompanied by M. Rajeev on Violin, Manoj Siva on Mridangam and Omkar Rao on Ghatam. Concert was planned in a beautiful way with excellent choice of compositions.

  1. Kedaragowla Varnam
  2. Yaare Rangana yaare Krishnana – Hindolam
  3. Vidajaaladu raa Naa manasu – Janaranjani
  4. Nannu brovu lalitha – Lalitha
  5. Srinivasa tava charanam – Kharaharapriya
  6. Okapari joodaga – Kalavathi
  7. MohanaKalyani – Ragam Tanam Pallavi (RTP)

I just love the way RaGa render the Ragas! Ranjani did an excellent job with Hindolam while Gayathri, justifying the name of the raga, did an extensive elaboration of Janaranjani. The composition in Lalitha was very soulful. The main piece of the concert was Papanasanam Sivan’s Srinivasa tava charanam in Kharaharapriya, that followed a very deep elaboration of the Ragam. Violinist was too good in responses to vocals all the way and his violin also sounded so sweet. I felt Tani Avarthanam was not that catchy for some reason (it was Roopaka talam in chouka kalam).

RTP rendition was just spellbinding with long elaborations of Ragam and short bursts of a few cycles of Tanam with the Kalpana swaras in the end in 2 ragas each. A touch of Hindustani flavour was felt in the end with the respective ragas chosen by them for raaga maalika (I could not identify even one, but Gayathri announced one of the four was, Malavi). Gayathri ended Kalpana swaras section with a trademark Graha Bhedam on Pa and Dha2, leading to Aarabhi and Abheri ragas respectively.

It was already late and I had to leave to reach home. But believe me, it was one of those concerts that I felt very tough to leave. Looking forward to their next concert in Bengaluru! 🙂