Lalgudi GJR Krishnan & Viji – Sree Ramaseva Mandali – April 9, 2018

My first concert of the season at the prestigious Sree Ramaseva Mandali, at Fort High School Grounds happened to be a stupendous concert by the Lalgudi Siblings, GJR Krishnan and Viji, with Trichy Harikumar on Mridangam and Giridhar Udupa on Ghatam.

  1. Varnam – MohanaKalyani
  2. Rama Bhakti Samrajya – SuddhaBangala
  3. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  4. Rave Himagiri Kumari (Swarajathi) – Todi
  5. Hechcharikaga Raa Raa – Yadukula Kambhoji
  6. Sri Venkatesa – PhalaManjari
  7. Eduta Nilichithi – Sankarabharanam
  8. Sobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini
  9. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Dharmavathi
  10. Baaro Krishnayya – RagaMalika
  11. Thillana – Sindhu Bhairavi
  12. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

The concert started with MohanaKalyani varnam by Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. It sounded as pleasing as the famous Thillana the Maestro composed in the same ragam! It went on with some incredible music marred by the sound system that frustrated the artistes and audience alike! Swaras in SuddhaBangala were lovely. Ramachandram Bhavayami was beautiful with some exquisite swaras.

Viji played an amazing and elaborate Todi ragam and the song that followed, was a pleasant surprise for the audience. The Syama Sastri’s masterpiece Swarajathi was soul stirring. Trichy Harikumar played appropriately with gentle touch that enhanced the beauty of the presentation. A quick Hechcharikaga raa raa followed before a brief PhalaManjari outline by GJR. Again a rarely heard song, Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s composition, Sri Venkatesa was presented which ended with mellifluous kalpana swaras.

GJR’s Sankarabharanam made my day! Various special phrases that he played, with the swift bowing was a treat to the audience. But for the disturbance caused by the spoiler man of the match, the sound engineer, this would have remained one of the memorable explorations of the majestic ragam on the Violin! Trichy Harikumar played extremely well complementing the grand composition Eduta Nilichiti. We couldn’t hear a complete Tani from Udupa as he was visibly frustrated by the sound system already. However, Harikumar continued his brilliance all through the concert.

A brisk Sobhillu Saptaswara was a filler between the main composition and the much awaited Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi. Dharmavathi was presented extremely well by the siblings and GJR played a superb Tanam with some remarkable bowing. Lalgudis are known for their Pallavis in complex patterns and this was no different. Pallavi Sada Ramachandram Bhajeham, Janaka Sudha Ramana was in Khanda Triputa Talam with the first part (Poorvangam) in Trisram and latter half (Uttarangam) in Chaturasram and was presented in different patterns. Phewww… how difficult do they make the lives of students like me in understanding the Pallavi! Ragamalika swaras in SaveriReetigowlaBinduMaliniHuseni and Behag blossomed into a garland of flowers that beautified the Dharmavathi (Devi)!

My favorite Thillana, Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman’s composition in Sindhu Bhairavi ended what was a sublime concert.

Sree Ramaseva Mandali has been organizing the festival for 8 decades now – a commendable thing in it’s own right but after seeing many concerts (especially instrumental) disturbed in the past, I appeal to the organizers to get a better sound system. The life of an instrumental concert is in the sound and a little more effort makes their efforts transform into the experience in a much better way.

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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!!

Saketharaman – NadaSurabhi – September 17, 2017

Saketharaman and team presented a nice concert on the 87th birth anniversary of legendary musician, Lalgudi Sri G Jayaraman, at the Indian Heritage Academy for Nadasurabhi!

Sri Saketharaman was accompanied by Kumari Apoorva Krishna on Violin, Sri Sai Giridhar on Mridangam and Sri Omkar Rao on Ghatam.

  1. Sendil… – Neelambari (Varnam)
  2. (Jagad)Eesha Paahimam – Kalyani
  3. Adamodi Galade – Charukesi
  4. Kande Kande Kande Namma Kangala Dhenuva – Varamu
  5. Paalinchu Kamakshi Pavani – Madhyamavathi
  6. Kannanai Kanbadeppo – Ragamalika
  7. Jathiswaram – Sindhu Bhairavi
  8. Kandena Govinda – Chandrakauns?
  9. Thillana – Pahaad
  10. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Saketharaman introduced that he was going to sing either the songs composed or popularized by the legendary musician Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir. As expected, the concert started with a beautiful Varnam composed by him, in Neelambari.

(Jagad)Eesha Paahimam in Kalyani is the first of the Lalgudi Pancharathnams composed by Saint Thyagaraja and it was rendered brilliantly.

Charukesi is one of my favorite ragas and in some sense, synonymous with Lalgudi and I was actually about to send Saketh a text requesting if he could sing that ragam, but held back thinking he might have his own plans for the concert on his Guru’s birth anniversary and hence did’t want to disturb them. Surprisingly he picked up long aalapana of this amazing ragam (telepathy, perhaps?), though a bit fast paced rendition than the ones that I heard innumerable number of times from the maestro, it had the Lalgudi stamp all the way. I am seeing this wonderful young girl Apoorva after 3 years on an accompanying role and felt very happy listening to her return, which started and ended very well. The krithi was easily to be guessed, Adamodi Galade. Violin accompaniment for Saketh is not an easy job because of the energy with which Saketh sings, and in complex patterns of swaras, but she did a good job. A blistering round of kalpana swaras made everyone sit on the edge of their seats.

Madhyamavathi aalapana was quite detailed both by Saketh and Apoorva, and I was somehow guessing a Pallavi. Pleasantly surprised and happy to listen to one of the masterpieces of Shyama Sastry, Paalinchu Kamakshi, which had interesting, intense and long Niraval like in any typical Saketharaman’s concert. A tad surprised that there were no kalpana swaras and even the last charanam which will have Shyama Sastry’s mudhra was skipped too. Nonetheless, it was already an intense singing by then in the form of delightful Niraval @ Karunya murthivai jagamu kapadina talli… Tani by Sai Giridhar and Omkar Rao was energetic and fulfilling.

Jathiswaram in SindhuBhairavi is something I heard for the first time and it really is a wonderful composition by Lalgudi Sir, which had GrahaBhedam to BehagMohanaKalyani, Tilang ragas in a very simple way for the ears and definitely tough for the singer. The composition deserves to be known more popularly to the general folklore and musicians like Saketharaman are hence, real torchbearers of the Lalgudi tradition. It was so nice that he sang and explained the composition as he did it!

The concert ended with a few small pieces followed by his famous Thillana in Pahaad!

Overall, a nice concert by Saketharaman and I was probably expecting one more Niraval and a Pallavi, but I do understand that the theme was more focussed on the legendary musician Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir and Saketh needed to make adjustments to his usual format, accordingly.

Lalgudi Krishnan & Vijayalakshmi – M A Narasimhachar Music Foundation – 18 November, 2016

Lalgudi siblings, Sri Krishnan and Smt. Vijayalakshmi, presented a delightful Violin duet concert, with Sri K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Sri Phanindra Bhaskara on Ghatam.

  1. <Missed a few compositions, as I arrived late>
  2. Seethapathe – Khamas
  3. Mayamma yanine – Ahiri
  4. Manasu karugademi – Hamsadhwani
  5. Kaligiyunte – Keeravani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kosalam
  7. <Couldn’t identify composition> – Kapi?
  8. Thillana – Pahaadi
  9. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

I had unfortunately missed initial 30 minutes or more of this beautiful concert and while I was driving to this concert, I was hoping to listen to Khamas. Bang on! The first composition that I heard in the evening was in Khamas! A short and beautiful aalapana followed by Saint Thyagaraja’s Seethapathe. A very delightful Niraval towards the end, from both, was a treat for the ears!

Syama Sastry’s Mayamma in Ahiri was full of bhavam and I wouldn’t have been surprised if any one in the audience had actually wept listening to it! Oh, that bowing!! It probably requires a tapas of an entire life to be able to do that kind of controlled bowing!

Brief Hamsadhwani followed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s Manasu Karugademi pumped the energy levels of everyone, with a wonderful rounds of fast paced Kalpana swaras.

Keeravani. What should I write about this?! Very detailed, soulful aalapana by both the siblings. It was like being in a different world altogether, and wished it could go on forever!! I would have heard the composition Kaligiyunte by the great Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir, which is in my collection, many times. I felt he was playing it in their form, on the stage this evening! Kalpana Swaras are a special feature of Lalgudi Bani and what a remarkable way to end the main composition it was! Soft, elegant and melodious! I have often confessed that KUJ is my favorite current generation Mridangam artiste and he was fabulous in this concert. Very gentle, as soft as the sound from Lalgudis’ Violin! Lovely Tani Avarthanam by him and Phanindra made the main piece, grand!

Krishnan announced the concert is going to end exactly at 9 and hence directly jumping into Ragam Tanam Pallavi. Kosalam (71st Melakarta ragam) this time. I have never heard the ragam on stage and this was fabulous. Pallavi Kamalavadani Karunakari KamaladalaNayani, was in Khanda Triputa Talam. I liked the pallavi very much, more so, because I understood it! Ragamalika swaras in Sahana, Ananda Bhairavi (well, I wanted to request Ananda Bhairavi if I had reached early – but it was checked too in some way!), Varali, Janaranjani, ? (couldn’t notice) and Hamir Kalyani ended, what was a lovely RTP!

The concert ended with Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir’s Thillana in ragam Pahaadi, followed by traditional Mangalam.

Overall, a great concert with sound quality way better than many places, and my fond memories with this Our School Auditorium continue!!

T M Krishna, H K Venkatram & Ashwin Anand – Bhoomija – 12 November, 2016

This is a special collaboration by Sri T M Krishna (Vocal), Guru Sri H K Venkatram (Violin) and Sri Ashwin Anand (Veena). TMK announced that Veena – Venu – Violin concerts are very popular since being conceptualised by Lalgudi Jayaraman – N Ramani – R Venkataraman many decades back and even today. However, he said, instrumental concerts and vocal concerts have always been in different paths and have seldom converged as a collaboration (not considering the regular concerts with ‘so-called’ accompanying instrument or pakka vadyam) and this Veena – Vocal – Violin concert is one of those attempts to see how it works!

TMK – HKV Sir – AA performed with Sri Arun Prakash (Mridangam) and Sri N Guruprasad (Ghatam). One of the special things I noticed in this concert is, TMK announced almost every composition that was being presented, and with a bit of background, as applicable.

  1. Mallari – GambhiraNaata
  2. Sri Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa – Todi (preceded by Ragamalika in free style)
  3. Ragam Tanam Varnam – Navaragamalika
  4. Thillana – MohanaKalyani
  5. Nottuswaram (Ramachandram)

The concert started with a brief Tanam in GambhiraNaata and the Mallari that followed in Misra Jathi Jhampa Talam, was very nice and refreshing to listen. It started in ultra-slow motion and gradually transitioned into different nadais. After a brief round of swaras, the Tani Avarthanam followed, which marked a great start to the concert!

The next composition preceded with a Ragamalika aalapana in free style, transitioning from one ragam to the other, seamlessly, alternating their turns, in the order – AA, TMK, HKV Sir. Shanmukhapriya, Varali, Asaveri, Mukhari, Salaga Bhairavi, Manirangu, Surati, Desh, Kapi, Dwijavanthi and finally a brief Todi aalapana and slokam in it, by TMK. The krithi Sree Krishnam Bhaja Maanasa was presented together by AA and HKV Sir, with TMK joining in the end, for a delightful Niraval at Shanka Chakra Gadha. Arun Prakash was outstanding with his Mridangam – felt as if a fourth melody track was running!!

Yet another Ragamalika – now in reverse order. Kedaram, Sankarabharanam and Kalyani (ragam) by HKV Sir, Begada (ragam), Kambhoji (Tanam) by TMK and YadukulaKambhoji, Bilahari, Mohanam and Sree (Tanam) by AA. By now, the composition was already guessed! One of my favorite varnams, just in one speed followed. A special round of swaras in the end – in the reverse order, from Sree to Kedaram was taken up by each, alternating among themselves. Very interesting!! A mini, soft Tani Avarthanam made it even special!! Both Arun Prakash and Guruprasad were amazing!

Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir’s MohanaKalyani Thillana followed. This was a tad slower than what I heard a thousand (or more) times from Lalgudis. Nonetheless, as special, as always!

TMK announced how Sri Muttuswami Deekshitaar was inspired (or, [perhaps] tickled) by the Scottish and Irish light music bands in the British India to compose about 38 Nottuswarams. AA and HKV Sir presented the composition and TMK joined again to repeat it along with sahityam.

Overall, it was a very nice concert indeed, with a couple of ragamalika sections. I would have been happier if there was another composition in place of the long ragamalika as a prelude to the second composition.

Thanks to Bhoomija trust for bringing these kind of concerts to reality. Looking forward to many more of these concerts!!

DisclaimerPlease excuse me if I wrote anything incorrectly. I am a mere mortal and my knowledge in music is very limited to understand and explain things in greater detail!

Saketharaman – Unnati – August 10, 2016

Finally I could make it to an Unnati concert! The previous day I missed Lalgudi siblings’ concert because of some priority tasks at office but I made sure I attended most part of Saketharaman concert, and it was almost 1 hour into the concert by the time I could arrive there.

Saketharaman was accompanied by H N Bhaskar on Violin, Mannargudi Easwaran on Mridangam and Sunaad Anoor on Khanjira.

  1. Venugana Ramana – Todi
  2. Enna rakshiso – Subha Pantuvarali
  3. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Varamu & Saveri
  4. Thalattu padum – Neelambari
  5. Daya Maado Ranga – Madhukauns
  6. Thillana – Yamuna Kalyani
  7. Pavamana Suthudu – Sourashtram

As I was entering the hall, I heard a bit of Mohana Kalyani aalapana and as soon as I settled, Saketh settled back too, to Todi, after doing a brief Graha Bhedam. I was very glad that I didn’t miss the main composition of the evening, although, I think, I missed about 4-5 songs before. Fabulous rendition of Todi indeed. Very well returned by Bhaskar too. Composition was awesome, with Niraval at “Karunya komala Shyamala…” and some patterns were very interesting in it. Kalpana swaras were in his trademark style, although I felt, the returns on Violin could have been better. Amazing Tani by Mannargudi, very energetic. Felt Sunaad was perhaps a tad bit nervous playing with such a great artiste on Mridangam, but did a good job too. I was amazed at how Saketh ended Muktayi with some fabulous swaras, picking up from percussionists’ Tani patterns. Shows his command on Laya!!

I don’t think I have ever heard Subha Pantuvarali on a concert stage till date and Saketh broke it in style! A very short aalapana followed by soulful rendition of the composition.

Ragam Tanam Pallavi – started with Varamu and then transitioned to Saveri. He switched back and forth in a very lovely manner, in both Ragam and Tanam, and each transition was a treat to the ears! Pallavi mentioned the names of the ragas for those who couldn’t identify earlier.. “Varamulosagi brovavayya Saveri raga priya Kaveri rangayya”. Again, he changed the ragas back and forth in each cycle, in kalpana swaras too. Ragamalika section had Ananda Bhairavi and Madhuvanthi swaras. It was a very nice dwi-raga RTP.

All my favorite ragas came one after the other till now and it continued with brief aalapanas of Sahana, Hamir Kalyani before settling into the composition in Neelambari (which I never heard before). Very soft indeed. Very very soft voice, and so were all the other musicians too!

The concert ended with yet another first timer for me in the form of Lalgudi Jayaraman’s thillana in Yaman Kalyani followed by traditional Mangalam.

Bombay Jayashri & Jayanthi Kumaresh – Bhoomija – August 6, 2016

A very special concert, by two very very special musicians, in a packed MLR Auditorium was a feast for the music lovers in Bengaluru!

Bhoomija always comes up with special concerts and this, featuring, Bombay Jayashri and Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh, will be another feather in it’s hat!! They were accompanied by Anantha G Krishnan (Mridangam) and Ojas Adhiya (Tabla).

  1. Keshavaya Namaha – Poorvi Kalyani
  2. Tunga Tarange Gange – Hamsadhwani
  3. Ramachandram Bhavayami – Vasantha
  4. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Kapi
  5. Thillana – Mand

This was perhaps the most awaited concert of this season and my knowledge is not good enough to write about it. But, I really wanted to document this somehow and hence trying my luck.

It all started with a brief Tani followed by eloquent Poorvi Kalyani aalapana by Dr. Jayanthi. I heard Govinda namas as a song, for the first time, set to tune, so wonderfully, and in whose voice!! So soulful by the one and only, divinity personified, Bombay Jayashri. Veena is an instrument that can produce anything, even including Vedic chants and each and every phrase of the song, on it, was very pristine. What a start to the concert!

Bombay Jayashri started singing the word “Ganga” in many unimaginable ways and in many hues one felt the flow of the holy river cascading down and making the land it touches pure.  Dr. Jayanthi echoed and it was felt that there is sublime river flowing with two banks – Vocal and Veena each bank . That was the effect of the Jugalbandi, perhaps possible only to them being divinity and humility personified musicians!! I never heard the song by Sadasiva Brahmendra, and it will remain in my memory for long time!!

Ramachandram Bhavayami is the next piece in Vasantha. The prelude to it was outstanding… a brief aalapana followed by many different names of Rama, played by Dr. Jayanthi and followed by Jayashri, now exchanging roles from previous piece! It was just magical! The composition by Muthuswami Dikshitar followed and ended with sublime swara patterns.

Kapi is one of my favorite ragas and I never get bored of listening to it. I would have easily heard the Ragam and Tanam played by Dr. Jayanthi in Darbar festival, a few hundred times. Coming back, Raga aalapana was mesmerizing. Tanam was fabulous. I particularly liked the sahityam which was on Goddess Saraswathi, referring to her as “Veena vaadini”. Different patterns of swaras followed and in Ragamalika section Jayashri sung two Hindustani ragas which I don’t know and was returned by Dr. Jayanthi with Nattakurinji and Behag. A scintillating Tani Avarthanam followed, keeping the audience awe-struck!

A delightful concert ended with a Thillana in raga Mand, by Lalgudi Jayaraman.

After the concert got over, I felt, why do these kind of concerts happen very rarely and why only for 90 minutes!!!

DisclaimerPlease excuse me if I wrote anything incorrectly. I am a mere mortal and neither can my vocabulary talk about my feelings, nor can my knowledge in music understand and explain things in greater detail!