Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert – Oct 12, 2018

Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal got a feather in it’s cap by awarding herself to Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, or the Veenai, as she put it in her acceptance speech! The programme at The Music Academy, Chennai, was a high profile grand affair, with a lots of musicians, dignitaries and media persons attending it. Everyone who attended the event followed by her concert, witnessed a wonderful speaker that Dr. Jayanthi is, that very few people know, apart from her trademark Veena recital! Jayanthi read out a heartening letter that the Saraswathi Veena wrote to her, to be read on her behalf, to a discerning audience for having awarded the prestigious honour on her (the Veena)!!

Jayanthi presented her Indira Sivasailam Endowment Concert with Anantha R Krishnan on Mridangam and Pramath Kiran on Tabla/Morsing.

  1. Maate Malayadhwaja – Khamas (Daru Varnam)
  2. Ekamresa Naayike – Karnataka Suddha Saveri
  3. Sri Dum Durge – SriRanjani
  4. Kamakshi Kamakoti – SimhendraMadhyamam
  5. Thillana – Mand
  6. Kamakshi Lokasakshi – Madhyamavathi

It being a Navarathri season, one expected a lot of compositions on Goddess Durga – Jayanthi too announced her intention right away. The stage was just perfect with the most beautiful decoration one can ever witness and it was awaiting Goddess Durga herself to take a seat to give it a complete look! Jayanthi started with a very brief outline of Khamas, and to me it sounded very fresh and pleasantly different! Muttaiah Bhagavathar’s masterpiece Daru Varnam Maate Malayadhwaja started the proceedings in a very grand fashion.

Ekamresa Naayike, one of my favorite Dikshitar Krithis, was beautiful. The aalapana preceding it was meditative and the swaras were top class, with Anantha Krishnan providing great embellishment. A soulful SriRanjani followed. The rare krithi of Dikshitar Sri Dum Durge would have made him proud from heavens. The Veena was literally singing his masterful choice of words in the praise of Goddess Durga. The swaras were brilliant – a fabulous muktayi just left everyone in awe.

Main ragam of the evening was SimhendraMadhyamam, something which I haven’t heard in a concert in a long time. Jayanthi always has a beautiful knack of making it look easier for novices like me with her charming smile and she enjoying her presentation only doubled the apparent ease. Sublime elaboration of the ragam, caressing the notes in all three octaves with great ease, was certainly a treat to witness! Tanam was flowing freely like a river and in the process, showing the different majestic strides of it through Ragamalika in SahanaRanjani and Aarabhi before concluding back in it’s main stream SimhendraMadhyamam. Scintillating swaras section, where Anantha and Pramath played extremely well to match her style was outstanding. A short and entertaining Tani Avarthanam brought to close, what I would call an epic!

Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition, a Thillana, yet again on Goddess Kamakshi, in Mand was as grand as ever and Jayanthi ended her concert with her trademark song Kamakshi Lokasakshi in Madhyamavathi, a composition of Syama Sastri.

Goddess Kamakshi came all the way to the Music Academy on the third day of Navarathri, sat in a heaven like stage with awe inspiring background, played on the Veena, conquered everyone with soulful music and stamped with authority that Jayanthi Kumaresh is the Voice of Veena!

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Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 23, 2017

Lalgudi Siblings, GJR Krishnan and Viji presented a melodious concert at the Madras Music Academy, with Sangitha Kalanidhi Prof. Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and B S Purushottam (BSP) on Khanjira.

  1. Varnam – Hamsavinodini
  2. Dasarathe – Kokilapriya
  3. Sri Venkata Girisham – Surati
  4. Marugelara O Raghava – JayanthaSri
  5. Sivakaama Sundari – Jaganmohini
  6. Mahitha Pravruddha – Kambhoji
  7. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Shanmukhapriya
  8. Chandrasekhara – SindhuBhairavi
  9. Thillana – Tilang

The concert started with the Maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition, a Varnam in HamsavinodiniDasarathe in Kokilapriya was lovely, so were the kalpana swaras.

A beautiful Surati aalapana by Viji was followed by Muthuswamy Deekshitaar’s Sri Venkata Girisham. Niraval in the Charanam was embellished beautifully by Trichy Sankaran. Kalpana Swaras were brilliant!

Two quick compositions Marugelara and Sivakaama Sundari followed, before the main raga for the evening, Kambhoji was taken up by GJR. He played some phrases with really complex gamakas, showing his virtuosity, while maintaining the melody that the Lalgudi Bani is known for! One of the Lalgudi Pancharathnams, Mahitha Pravruddha was the song. I saw a lot of guesses having gone wrong, with people around me trying to predict the song. We have to admire the duo’s quest to present rare krithis. Kalpana swaras and of course, the muktayi were quite interesting!

Shanmukhapriya was outstanding. So soulful and mellifluous that there was not even a second where we felt bored off the long aalapana. They did Graha Bhedam to KaanadaNaata and Dhenuka (thanks to Viji for clearing my doubt about how Kaanada was achieved from Shanmukhpriya through Graha Bhedam – by avoiding Madhyamam). GJR announced the Pallavi was sung by Alathur Brothers in Academy in 1964 and Trichy Sankaran Sir improvised on it. Pallavi, in Jhampa Talam in Khanda gathi was in Tamil, so I couldn’t comprehend the sahityam it inspite of Viji singing. As usual, it was a complex laya pattern, a trademark of the Lalgudis, which keeps students like me interested in following it very closely. Ragamalika swaras were in HuseniNalinakanthiHamir KalyaniKarnaRanjaniRasikapriya and Viji was simply outstanding in this segment!! Trichy Sankaran Sir was brilliant all throughout, and it was indeed a treat watching him.

The concert ended with Chandrasekhara in SindhuBhairavi and Lalgudi’s Thillana in Tilang.

2.5 hours of pure melody, both Violins singing in unison, Trichy Sankaran Sir showing his class and BSP handling Khanjira as carefully as handling a flower – it indeed was a musical ecstasy!!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 22, 2017

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh presented a wonderful concert at the Madras Music Academy, with Arjun Kumar on Mridangam and Udupi Sridhar on Ghatam.

  1. Chalamela – Nattakurinji (Varnam)
  2. Gowri Manohara – GowriManohari
  3. Appa! Rama Bhakti – Pantuvarali
  4. Kamakshi – Bhairavi
  5. Shankaram Abhirami Manoharam – KamalaManohari
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kapi
  7. Muralidhara Gopala – Maand
  8. Kavadi Chindu – Behag
  9. Kamakshi – Madhyamavathi

The concert started with Chalamela in Nattakurinji in one speed. Brief outline of GowriManohari and Papanasam Sivan’s composition Gowri Manohara followed. The swaras were scintillating and it was just a small intro to what was in store for the next 135 minutes!

Pantuvarali aalapana was soul stirring. Appa! Rama Bhakti entho goppara.., the composition of Saint Thyagaraja was presented with great poise to aptly bring out the meaning of the sahityam. Arjun and Sridhar played nice exchanges in the swaras for a variety of patterns that Jayanthi played.

One of the all-time favorite ragas of Carnatic musicians and rasikas, is Bhairavi. The aalapana was so meditative and it was as if Goddess Saraswathi was doing a Tapas with her instrument. Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Kamakshi was so soulful that the Goddess would have certainly come to the Music Academy to enjoy the rest of the proceedings. Arjun Kumar did a great job in enhancing the beauty of the song! So when Kamakshi is in the hall, she had to be served a nice treat before safely sending her off, right! Shankaram Abhirami Manoharam, a composition of Muthuswamy Deekshitar, served as the starter for her.

Kapi is one of the ragas that sound so pleasing to the listeners. A sense of great devotion was expressed all the way in Jayanthi’s expansion of the amazing ragam, while showing her virtuosity and versatility on the complex instrument the Saraswathi Veena is! Tanam should be heard only on the Saraswathi Veena, and more so, by Jayanthi. Some of her glides were mesmerizing and appeared so effortless that only she can make it look so easy! She also presented Tanam in Madhukauns, a chaste Carnatic ragam Begada and haunting Kanthamani! Pallavi was in Adi Talam, that was played in different patterns before moving on to the Ragamalika swaras featuring the three ragas in the same order before ending it with a grand muktayi in Kapi. Arjun and Sridhar played brilliant Tani Avarthanam that made the RTP, a complete package!

Muralidhara Gopala was beautiful. A lovely aalapana of Behag brought the typical folk flavour that everyone seemed to have enjoyed. It was the Ganesh-Kumaresh composition that she played and popularized on many platforms.

Goddess Kamakshi was sent off safely with yet another Syama Sastri’s composition Kamakshi Lokasakshi in Madhyamavathi and the concert ended 4 minutes ahead of time!

I have been attending a few concerts this season, the RTP segment was just being Naam ke vaste by quickly finishing it in 20 minutes or so. However, Jayanthi always gives the RTP.. the time it deserves and it enthralled audience for almost an hour including Tani Avarthanam! There was at least one song from each of the Carnatic Music Trinity and there was not even an iota of hurriedness in the entire 2.5 hours of presenting the Saraswathi Veena! The audience gave her a long round of applause with standing ovation at the end of the concert, something that remains etched in memory for a long long time!!

Blessed are the audience who could witness it live! Jayanthi surely keeps inspiring the students of music – the number of students who sat on either sides of the stage for an instrumental music concert in Chennai, showed the amazing inspiration she has been for all the students (including me too!) over the years!!

Sarve janaah sukhino bhavanthu..

Hyderabad Brothers – Sri Krishna Gana Sabha – Dec 22, 2017

Hyderabad Brothers Seshachary and Raghavachary presented a good concert at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, with H K Venkatram (Violin), Kotipalli Ramesh (Mridangam) and Sethuraman (Khanjira).

  1. Sami Ninne – Sankarabharanam (Varnam)
  2. Arunachala Natham – Saranga
  3. Korina Varamosagu – Ramapriya
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  5. <Missed the rest>

The concert started with Sankarabharanam Varnam SamiNinne in two speeds. Brief sketch of Saranga followed by Muthuswamy Deekshitar’s Arunachala Natham was lovely.

Ramapriya was a nice choice of ragam. Both the brothers rendered the aalapana soulfully, demonstrating their rich base voice and HKV returned beautifully. The brothers are indeed known for their repertoire consisting very rare ragas and songs and it has to be appreciated. Korina Varamosagumayya Kodandapani, a Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s composition was presented well with brief exchange of swaras in the end!

Bhairavi Ragam Tanam was long and some rare phrases were presented by both. The Violin return was very soulful. Pallavi is set to Trisra jathi Triputa Talam in Tamil, so I couldn’t comprehend it completely. It was catchy and was presented in different Nadais. Ramesh probably had tough time as Seshachary was adamant he plays the Pallavi on Mridangam also the same way they were singing, after the Violin return before taking up Kalpana Swaras. It was funny, as he was not getting it right but was being pushed to do it till he gets it right, as if he was in a practice session. Swaras were good, Ragamalika in SaveriBilahari, ?, Hindolam was nice. Tani Avarthanam started and there would have been a few more songs but I had to leave for the Music Academy for another concert.

It was a spectacle for me to see my sister’s Guru’s Guru (Raghavachary) with my Guru (HKV) on same stage, yesterday. Concert was certainly a good experience, except for the antics of Seshachary which were funny all through the concert!

Saketharaman – Narada Gana Sabha – Dec 21, 2017

Saketharaman presented a brilliant concert with R K Shriramkumar (RKSK) on Violin, Trichy Sankaran on Mridangam and B S Purushottam (BSP) on Khanjira, at the Narada Gana Sabha.

  1. Reached late – missed first one
  2. Marubalka – Sriranjani
  3. Etti Janmamidi – Varali
  4. Maragatha Valli – Kambhoji
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kaanada
  6. <Some Tamil Song that I couldn’t comprehend>
  7. Smara Sundaranguni – Pharas?
  8. Thillana – Madhuvanthi
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

I reached about 10 minutes late, as I had to come from Music Academy and while I was entering the hall, the Niraval at Daarinerigi santasilli.. in Marubalka (Sriranjani) just started. I really like the intensity Saketharaman brings to the concert, especially the way he presents the Niraval, in a very structured way. This was no different and in the company of RKSK, it was more pleasing.

Varali was soulful and the composition Etti Janmamidi was wonderful. It was pleasing to hear “Etti Janmam Idi ra” properly as opposed to how many people sing “Etti Janma Midi ra”.

Saketharaman sang an amazing Kambhoji and RKSK’s return was beautiful. Muthuswamy Deekshitaar’s composition Maragatha Valli was the main composition of the evening. Niraval on the Pallavi line was beautiful and impactful, with Trichy Sankaran showing his class. RKSK played brilliant swaras. Trichy Sankaran and BSP played an Amazing Tani Avarthanam. BSP was so soft that we could hardly hear his returns. While Sankaran showed his mastery on Mridangam, BSP quietly followed him very well, adding beauty to the presentation.

A quick Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Kaanada with Pallavi Shankaram SarvajanavaSankaram Santatam Chintaye Prasanna in Khandajaati Triputa Talam was beautiful like many other Pallavis of Saketharaman. Ragamalika swaras in SankarabharanamPriyadarshini to conclude the RTP were lovely.

The concert concluded with Lalgudi’s Madhuvanthi Thillana.

Sikkil Gurucharan – The Music Academy, Chennai – Dec 21, 2017

Sikkil Gurucharan (SGC)  presented an excellent concert, with H K Venkatram (HKV) on Violin, H S Sudhindra (HSS) on Mridangam and V Suresh (VS) on Ghatam, at the Madras Music Academy.

  1. Tharuni – Kambhoji Varnam
  2. Sri Ganeshwara – Shanmukhapriya
  3. Mayuranatham Anisham – Dhanyasi
  4. Tatvameruga Tarama – Garudadhwani
  5. Intha Paraakelara – Kharaharapriya
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi (& krithi) – Kumudakriya
  7. Kanna Va – Ragamalika
  8. Thillana – Poorvi

The concert started with the Varnam Tharuni in Kambhoji in two speeds. Brief sketch of Shanmukhapriya followed by Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi’s composition Sri Ganeshwara was brilliant. SGC announced that the Sangitha Kalanidhi designate Chitravina Ravikiran polished and popularized this composition. Swara exchanges between SGC and HKV were top class!

Dhanyasi aalapana by both SGC and HKV was very soulful. Mayuranatham Anisham, a Muthuswamy Deekshitar’s composition was lovely. Brisk Tatvameruga Tarama was the energetic filler between two long items. Swaras in Garudadhwani at blistering speed and in special patterns, were a treat for the audience and students alike!

Kharaharapriya aalapana by SGC was beautiful, trying to present some rare phrases amidst typical raga flavour. I am floored by his control in some gamakas and in the way he sustained some notes quite long. HKV did an amazing return of Kharaharapriya in his typical style. Intha paraakelara, a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer was presented very well. Niraval at the Pallavi line and the kalpana swaras that followed, were so nice! HSS and VS did a fantastic job in Tani Avarthanam, both competed in bettering the other’s returns. The entire concert was indeed embellished by their performance!!!

My pick of the evening is Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Kumudakriya. The aalapana was soul stirring, especially the Violin return drew many aah-s and bhale-s from audience. Pallavi ArdhaNaareswaram Aaradhanayaami Satatam Abhayakaram Bhayakaram Shivakaram was nice except for the word break “ArdhaNaa Reeswaram” that was annoying. There was definitely space for him to make it “ArdhaNaari Iswaram” which would have made Lord Shiva more happier. I am sure he would have been happier anyways, the way the Pallavi Niraval and swaras following it were presented. A very quick Ragamalika (with no Violin return) happened in no time and I understand he had to rush it through as he had plans of singing the famous krithi Ardhanareeswaram quickly. Nice support by HSS and VS all the way!

The concert ended with a Viruttam in Kapi followed by Kanna Va in Ragamalika, again quickly followed by Thillana which he started at half minute past 18:29 to finish off just 1.5 minutes late to the scheduled time 18:30.

Overall, a beautiful concert – Kumudakriya certainly had a nice effect that it was ringing in my ears for quite some time after the concert. It was good to see nice camaraderie among the musicians, as I saw Ramakrishnan Murthy, Sandeep Narayan and few others attend the concert!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh – Music Academy – December 26, 2016

This was perhaps the most awaited concert of the December season 2016 for me! Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh’s performance in the Music Academy is one of the most remarkable concerts and it deservedly received a standing ovation by everyone at the end of it!

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh performed with Sri R Sankaranarayanan on Mridangam and Sri Trichy Krishnaswamy on Ghatam.

  1. Karunimpa – Sahana (Varnam)
  2. Ekambresa Naayike – Suddha Saveri
  3. Sree Narada – Kaanada
  4. Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru – PoorviKalyani
  5. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Charukesi
  6. Akhilandeswari – Dwijavanthi
  7. Radha Sametha Krishna – Yamuna Kalyani
  8. Thillana – Kapi

It all started with a brief aalapana in Sahana followed by my favorite Varnam Karunimpa Ide, by Thiruvotriyur Thiyagaiyer, in a brisk pace. Muttuswami Deekshitar’s composition Ekambresa Naayike in (Karnataka) Suddha Saveri, that ended with a wonderful round of kalpana swaras, set the tone for what turned out to be a memorable evening.

Kaanada will be beautiful always. It’s beauty gets doubled when Dr. Jayanthi plays it! In the past, I have had some phrases of Kaanada haunting me (say, KaanadaMukhi [word borrowed from a very special person of my life] similar to ChandraMukhi) for many days and this particular aalapana was even special! Saint Thyagaraja’s immortal composition, Sree Narada was the composition to follow, that ended with Jayanthi-isque Kalpana swaras, if I may call it!

PoorviKalyani is an amazing ragam that is known to induce pleasant feeling. This aalapana from Dr. Jayanthi would have taken everyone in the auditorium to an eternal tranquility! Such a meditative feeling, and one would feel it should go on and on. Syama Sastri’s composition Ninnu vinaga mari dikkevarunnaru was presented with so much poise that there were goosebumps with aahs, oohs heard all over in the auditorium! Kalpana swaras showed why she is the master of both ragam and laya! Very well played by Sankaranarayanan and Krishna complementing her elegance and enhancing the beauty of the presentation.

Charukesi. Well, what should I write about it? Should I have counted the number of moist eyes in the hall? Or, should I talk about how people were stuck to their seats till the end, perhaps untypical of Chennai rasikas in an instrumental concert?

Charukesi was played to exhibit a deep sense of poignance, and every phrase of it around Dhaivatham and Nishadham would have touched all hearts there. I had actually wept!! Bringing the flavour of a ragam is not an easy job and can only be done with such ease by extremely gifted musicians like her. Blessed are a few of us who could witness it live in Ragam and Tanam! If Goddess Saraswathi had played Charukesi Tanam, she would have perhaps played it that way. Or, she may have herself played in the form of Dr. Jayanthi on that evening! Ragamalika Tanam in another more sorrowful ragam SubhaPantuvarali, pleasing Aarabhi and graceful Shuddh Sarang added a great dimension to the RTP. Pallavi, which was played seamlessly in all 4 ragams, was in Adi Talam. She exhibited the same in multiple rhythmic patterns. Fabulous Tani Avarthanam made this RTP, one to be cherished for the lifetime!!

Muttuswami Deekshitar’s Akhilandeswari in Dwijavanthi and Radha Sametha Krishna in Yamuna Kalyani (Misra Yaman) by G N Balasubramanian followed before the all-time favourite Kapi took off! A short aalapana followed by Kumaresh’s composition, a Thillana in it, marked the end of a very grand concert.

Such a wonderful concert, with extreme planning – right from the choice of ragams to the choice of compositions. If you noticed, she took up at least one composition by each of the Carnatic Music trinity and focused more on qualitative presentation than on the quantity in terms of number of compositions!

One feels concerts like these should go on and on. Alas, they say, great things are available only in rarity and I am blessed to have witnessed one such thing, LIVE!

I have always mentioned that Dr. Jayanthi is divinity personified and one can only second it after listening to her performance at the Music Academy, Chennai!

Om Saraswathyay Namaha!! _/\_