Saketharaman – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 26, 2018

Saketharaman presented a wonderful concert in the company of Akkarai Subhalakshmi on Violin, Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on Khanjira, at the Madras Music Academy.

  1. Palayasumam – Arabhi
  2. Sundaratara deham – Pantuvarali
  3. Amba Neelambari – Neelambari
  4. VaraNarada – VijayaSri
  5. Marakathavalli – Kambhoji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Varamu & Saveri (dwi-raga)
  7. Aadu Chidambaramo – Behag
  8. Tirupugazh – Hamir Kalyani

Saketh started the concert with a slokam in Arabhi followed by Syama Sastri’s composition Palayasumam. Thyagaraja’s composition Sundaratara deham in Pantuvarali was very good, with a short yet intense niraval at ragadi samharam raghavam udaram followed by some scintillating swaras and nice poruthams. Both Akkarai and Anantha complemented Saketh well.

A very beautiful aalapana in Neelambari was a treat to the audience. These kind of ragas in slow pace actually add a great variety to the concerts! Having started with a slokam yet again, Manikyaveena.., he brought out his typical soulful rendition of Ponnaiah Pillai’s composition Amba Neelambari in a lovely fashion! A brisk VaraNarada served as a nice filler and lifted the energy in the auditorium. Flashy swaras in a variety of interesting patterns were to be savoured.

A languid Kambhoji aalapana by Saketh was simply outstanding. Akkarai also returned well but it was a bit too long. Dikshitar’s masterpiece Marakathavalli was presented very well. Niraval could have added more beauty. Some very nice swara patterns and poruthams were an absolute treat, with a brilliant korvai structured around Ga and Ma to sum it up. Akkarai returned swaras well with Anantha and Anirudh beautifying them too. Tani Avarthanam was played well but was eternally too long (close to 30 min). I think the co-artistes should keep a check on the time to allow the concert to happen as per the main artistes’ plan and not get carried away with the moments on stage. We were hardly left with 45 minutes to witness the much awaited RTP and other songs.

Saketh started with an amazing Varamu aalapana and transitioned well to Saveri. Violin return could have been shorter again. After elaborating each ragam separately, he sang small phrases alternating between two ragas in a very interesting manner. Certainly it is not the easiest of the jobs! He did similarly in Tanam as well. A dwi-raga pallavi with Poorvangam in Varamu and Uttarangam in Saveri with raga names in it, was composed very well. Varamulosagi Brovavayya Saveri Ragapriya Kaveri Rangayya was set to 35 beat cycle and the Talam chosen was innovative, 5 beats per cycle with kalapramanam decreasing in geometric progression! So first cycle will have 5 * 4 = 20 aksharas, second 5 * 2 = 10 and the last 5 * 1 = 5, with a total of 35. After an amazing Trikalam by Saketh, the swaras included both the ragas in each avarthanam followed by ragamalika swaras in Reetigowla and Kapi before concluding with an impressive korvai in two ragas! Outstanding stuff indeed to come up with such innovative ideas.

viruttam in Behag was followed by Gopalakrishna Bharatiyar’s composition Aadu Chidambaramo. The concert ended with a Tirupugazh in Hamir Kalyani and a traditional Mangalam.

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Bhargavi Venkatram – Brahma Gana Sabha – Dec 25, 2018

Bhargavi Venkatram, a senior student of T M Krishna and daughter of senior Violinist H K Venkatram from Bengaluru, presented a fine concert with Shraddha Ravindran on Violin and Kapil Ramnarayan on Mridangam, at the Sivagami Petachi Auditorium under the auspices of Brahma Gana Sabha, in Chennai.

  1. Jaya jaya jaya janaki kantha – Naata
  2. Gnanamosaga raada – PoorviKalyani
  3. Neelayadakshi – Pharas
  4. Nadopasana – Begada
  5. Govardhana Giridhara – Darbari Kaanada

The kutcheri started with a brief outline of Naata followed by Purandara Dasa’s composition. The swaras at Dasarathatmaja.. were short and beautiful.

Bhargavi did a soulful aalapana of PoorviKalyani – although some shades of her Guru were seen, she demonstrated her individual style. Thyagaraja’s masterpiece Gnanamosaga raada was sung beautifully. Some exquisite round of swaras drew applause from the audience! Kapil was following her very closely. A very lilting Neelayadakshi, a composition of Syama Sastri was sung in a languid way. Bhavam has been the hallmark of her singing all the way.

BBB now! 🙂 Bhargavi did a brilliant Begada, which was a top class stuff. She highlighted the Madhyamam characteristic of Begada very well. Shraddha started slowly but played a very nice return! Yet another Thyagaraja’s masterpiece was sung extremely well. The kalpana swaras at Tantri Laya swara.. started in a very languid way and before moving on to the second speed. The muktayi was very well structured around Madhyamam and Kaisiki Nishadham subtly using the Ma-Ma Ni-Ni janta swaras nicely! Kapil played short and sweet Tani Avarthanam.

Bhargavi sang a slokam Vasudevasutam… in ragamalika, seamlessly transitioning from one to the other, in SuratiReetigowlaHamir Kalyani and finally ending in Darbari Kaanada. Narayana Teertha’s composition Govardhana Giridhara in Darbari Kaanada was soulful and it was indeed a great way to end the concert!

Bhargavi planned very well for a 90 minutes concert covering all the elements of a nice concert! Her Guru TMK was also in the audience and it must indeed have been a very happy moment for both Guru and Shishya!

Bombay Jayashri – Mylapore Fine Arts Club – Dec 24, 2018

Bombay Jayashri presented a sublime concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club, in the company of H N Bhaskar on Violin, Patri Satish Kumar on Mridangam and Shree Sundarkumar on Khanjira.

  1. Jalajaksha nee paadame (Varnam) – Asaveri
  2. Manavi Alakincharadate – Nalinakanthi
  3. Maati maatiki telpavalena – Mohanam
  4. Chakkani Rajamargamu – Kharaharapriya
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Ranjani
  6. Murari Kunja Bihari (Bhajan) – ?
  7. Thillana – Tilang

The concert started with a serene Varnam of Lalgudi Jayaraman, in Asaveri. All-time favorite Manavi Alakincharadate followed that ended with brisk Kalpana swaras. Some of the improvisations in Anupallavi and Charanam were awe inspiring.

Mohanam was presented in a soulful way by Jayashri. It is second time in this series of Margazhi2018 for me, yet it sounded so interesting so fresh! Bhaskar returned extremely well and he showed why he is one of the most sought after Violinists this season, although he was a tad louder (which I assume is the fault of sound person). Yet another Thyagaraja’s composition, rarely heard Maati maatiki was very lovely and the korvai around Dhaivatham was very interesting!

Kharaharapriya was too good. A very soothing and lilting aalapana by Jayashri and Bhaskar was a treat for the audience! Chakkani Rajamargamu, yet another Thyagaraja’s composition was the main piece of the evening. Niraval at Kantiki sundarakara… was top class and swaras poured like rain. Must mention Bhaskar was outstanding in his returns to Niraval and swaras! A nice korvai gave way for Patri Satish Kumar and Sundarkumar to present some thrilling Tani Avarthanam. T V Gopalakrishnan who was sitting in the front row seemed to be very impressed. Overall, yet another ~1 hour affair of this majestic ragam in 4 days was a treat!

A short Ragam and Tanam in Ranjani was wonderful. Some of the Tanam patterns of Jayashri are brilliant. A Tamil pallavi was set to Khanda jaathi Triputa Talam – it is a great coincidence that I hear a lot of Pallavis in Khanda jaati Talams this season!

Jayashri ended her concert with a Bhajan and a lilting Thillana in Thilang, composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman. After listening to it twice in two days, this has become one of my favorite Thillanas and some of the sangathis are beyond imagination! What a great Maestro he is and we are indeed blessed to be in an era that can listen to and popularize his Thillanas! We owe a lot to his prime disciples Lalgudi Siblings, Bombay Jayashri, Saketharaman, and the like, for this!!

Finally I am extremely delighted to have attended a concert of Bombay Jayashri for the first time in Chennai!

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 23, 2018

Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi presented a great concert at the Madras Music Academy, in the company of Prof. Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and V Suresh on Ghatam.

  1. Varnam – Huseni
  2. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  3. Rave Himagiri Kumari (Swarajathi) – Todi
  4. Innu dayabarade – KalyanaVasantham
  5. Manasu Vishaya – Nattakurinji
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – SimhendraMadhyamam
  7. Ayye methakadinam – Ragamalika
  8. Thillana – Tilang
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started with a lovely Thillana of Lalgudi G Jayaraman in ragam Huseni. Somehow every composition of the great Meastro sounds so charming and a composition in ragam like Huseni as a starting piece is unbelievable. Only LGJ can do that! Ramachandram Bhavayami is played very well, with Prof. Sankaran’s deft strokes adding beauty to their presentation of composition and swaras that followed it!

Viji played a soulful Todi. I hear a lot of people complaining that this was N’th time this season but it was first for me! Thoroughly enjoyed some of the gamakas in her exploration of the ragam. Syama Sastri’s masterpiece was presented very well. Purandaradasa’s composition in KalyanaVasantham followed before the beautiful Nattakurinji was unleashed by Krishnan. I heard the composition Manasu Vishaya by LGJ many times and could easily connect to the trademark presentation in the Lalgudi Bani. Wonderful swaras embellished greatly by both the percussionists was a treat to listen. A very complex korvai to end the swaras seemed to be very complex indeed!! Tani Avarthanam by Sankaran and Suresh was excellent and I was definitely yearning for more of it!

SimhendraMadhyamam was presented by both, taking turns, each in their own styles and it was outstanding! A brief Graha Bhedam to Bowli by Krishnan in the aalapana was interesting. There is a very unique way in which he plays the Tanam and it is mesmerizing every single time!! Pallavi Ananda Natana Prakasa Sarvesa Natesa Jagadeesa was as usual so complex, in Khanda Jaati Ata Talam (28). It was a tight rope walk for all of them in presenting the same. Viji did an amazing Trikalam and for the swaras they made all lives easier by choosing to continue in Misra Chapu (7). Ragamalika swaras in Kedaram, HamirKalyani, AthanaKuntalavaraliAbhogi were top class before getting back to SimhendraMadhyamam and ending the RTP with a nice korvai!

A quick Bharatiyar’s composition Ayye methakadinam was very good. The concert ended with a Thillana in ragam Tilang, yet another beautiful creation of LGJ.

Bharat Sundar – Narada Gana Sabha – Dec 22, 2018

Bharat Sundar presented an excellent concert at Narada Gana Sabha, with H K Venkatram on Violin, Tiruvarur Bakthavatsalam on Mridangam and K V Gopalakrishnan on Khanjira.

  1. Jalajaksha – Hamsadhwani
  2. Janaki Ramana – Suddha Seemanthini
  3. ? – Begada
  4. Jambupathe – Yamuna Kalyani
  5. Bantureeti Koluvu – Hamsanadam
  6. Balagopala – Bhairavi
  7. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kapi
  8. Karpagame – Madhyamavathi

The concert started with Hamsadhwani Varnam. Janaki Ramana in Suddha Seemanthini was very well presented. Swara exchanges between Bharat and HKV were top class.

Soulful Begada followed and HKV return beautified it in his typical style. A Tamil composition that I failed to understand properly was sung very well. A languid Jambupathe was a delight to listen to!

Bantureeti Koluvu was good with intense Niraval at Ramanamane.. followed by scintillating swaras, increased energy levels in the auditorium. Soulful and unhurried aalapana in Bhairavi was a treat. Balagopala, Dikshitar’s masterpiece was brilliant! Swaras were outstanding and Tani Avarthanam by Baktha and KVG was very good.

Kapi was presented well by Bharat and HKV’s Ragam and Tanam was very soothing and masterly drawing a lot of applause from audience at the end of each segment. Pallavi was in Khanda jaati Triputa Talam and in Tamil. At the end of it, I believe Bharat sang one more Tamil krithi to end the RTP segment. The concert ended with Karpagame in Madhyamavathi.

A very nice concert indeed – this was the first of Bharat Sundar’s concerts that I ever attended and felt very happy.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 21, 2018

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a memorable concert in the company of Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam, at the Madras Music Academy Annual Concert, that truly gave an exhilarating experience for the audience.

  1. Varnam – Mandari
  2. Tatvamariya Tarama – Reetigowla
  3. Narasimha Aagacha – Mohanam
  4. Mayamma – Ahiri
  5. Palintuvo – Kantamani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kharaharapriya
  7. Kandanaal Mudalai – Madhuvanthi
  8. Thillana – Khamas
  9. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

A brief sketch of Mandari followed by the Varnam provided a great start to the concert. Reetigowla aalapana was lilting. Papanasam Sivan’s composition Tatvamariya Tarama was lovely. Kalpana Swaras were just a sample to show Jayanthi’s rhythmic excellence! Arjun Kumar and Krishna played a pivotal role in embellishing the presentation.

Mellifluous Mohanam aalapana was one of the highlights of the evening. Truly exhibiting Jayanthi’s hallmark of soulfulness in presentation, the aalapana remains etched in the memory for long time. It can be a textbook of sorts for presenting Mohanam so aesthetically. Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s masterpiece Narasimha Aagacha was played so well that the lord Narasimha himself would have come down. As explained by Jayanthi in one of her videos, this composition is a wonderful demonstration of the command Dikshitar has on Sanskrit – the second half of Charanam was completely without any deergha aksharams (elongated syllables). The swaras poured soaked in melody and both percussionists played very well complementing her amazing rhythmic patterns!

A brief outline of Ahiri was soul stirring and the Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Mayamma was presented with divinity. For the lack of words in my limited vocabulary, I will skip mentioning about the rendition anymore!! Now I understood why they say you don’t get food when you perform Ahiri. Actually, you don’t need any food as it fills you up completely. Some of the phrases are still lingering in my ears even after a few hours!!

Kantamani is a very special vivadi ragam which has Suddha Dhaivatham and Suddha Nishadham and the combination evokes a very haunting kind of a feeling. One could easily hear the oohs-aahs in the Music Academy, as Jayanthi was presenting the ragam in an outstanding way! A brisk Palintuvo, Saint Thyagaraja’s composition was presented that ended in scintillating swaras.

Kharaharapriya is one of the ragas which is very difficult to get the rasa out of it. Although it is very famous ragam, I have heard only a few handle it carefully bringing out the raga devatha with ease! Jayanthi was in her own element this evening and this ragam was explored delightfully in the Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi that lasted for more than 45 minutes (excluding Tani Avarthanam). An outstanding Tanam which also comprised seamless ragamalika with SaveriHamsanandi and Bahudari will be cherished for long time. Pallavi was in Khanda Triputa Talam and so magically presented that the audience gave a long round of applause at the end of it. Arjun and Krishna did great job in enhancing the overall rendition. Swaras were played in all four ragas, the approach to korvai and the ending was just mind boggling! Jayanthi played swaras in Hamsanandi till perhaps the highest note possible on the Veena, extending beyond the frets that left everyone mesmerised. Tani Avarthanam was extremely good, just apt in enhancing the grandeur of the RTP.

Beautiful composition in Madhuvanthi and the charming Thillana of Lalgudi Jayaraman in Khamas were presented in an unhurried manner. Jayanthi ended the concert with her trademark Kamakshi Lokasakshi, yet another Syama Sastri’s composition of the evening.

A long standing ovation from the audience year after year at the Music Academy just signifies how much Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh’s music is adored and it stands a testimony of her purity in music, chastity and divinity in presentation!!

One must note the importance the Carnatic Music trinity get in her concerts, all the last 4 of her annual concerts at Music Academy featured at least one composition of each of them. Also, the way Jayanthi plays her concerts in a leisurely manner with no overdose of the number of songs is certainly a guideline that every musician can pickup in this era of singing a lot of songs especially towards the end of concerts!

I am glad I could attend this masterly concert despite having to travel all the way from Delhi, arriving just right in time!

Kumaresh & Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple – Dec 15, 2018

Margazhi Music Season 2018 started for me in Bengaluru this year, with a scintillating Strings Attached concert by Kumaresh and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, in the company of K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing, at the Ragigudda Anjaneya Temple as part of their 50th Anniversary celebrations.

  1. Kanugontini – Bilahari
  2. Veera Hanumathe Namo Namo – Kaanada
  3. Strings Attached composition – Pantuvarali
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bahudari
  5. Mangalam

The concert started with a lilting Thyagaraja’s composition, Kanugontini in Bilahari that was embellished with amazing Kalpana Swaras.

Soothing Kaanada followed with some mesmerising passages between Kumaresh and Jayanthi. The rare composition of Dikshitar was very enchanting and Kumaresh singing the Pallavi certainly helped! Sheer brilliance in swaras again left me in awe made me wondering how can this wonderful couple always come up with great ideas!!

Soul stirring Pantuvarali demonstrated virtuosity of both the gifted musicians. Kumaresh played just on the Mandra Sthayi Shadjam string for more than a minute exploring the complete octave with such amazing control! They played one of my favorite compositions while Jayachandra and Pramath did an exceptional job in embellishing it further!!

Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Bahudari will be remembered for the bahudari (many ways) of reaching Gandharam (Ga) by Jayanthi in her exploration of the ragam. Tanam was outstanding by both, putting the audience into trance with their magic. Pallavi Rama Raghukula Soma Tanayuni Brova Bharama.. Dasaratha Tanaya is set to Adi Talam (16). Jayanthi sang the Pallavi for the delight of audience. Trikalam was played well and Tani Avarthanam was entertaining but for the sound system marring it at the crescendo of Jayachandra’s stunning playing. The RTP was concluded with a beautiful garland of ragamalika swaras that lasted one avarthanam each!

The concert ended with a Mangalam comprising of HarivasanamKamakshi Lokasakshi, and a bit of Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma.