O.S.Thyagarajan & N. Ravikiran @ SPSS, Chennai

Venue: Vidya Bharati, Bheemasena Garden St., Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 28 Dec 2006

Organizer: Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha

Vocal: Sri O.S Thyagarajan (OST)

Chitravina: Sri N. Ravikiran

Violin: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar (RKS)

Mridangam: Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman (UKS)

Khanjira: Sri B. Sree Sundar Kumar

List of songs:

1) inta chAlamu (varnam) – bEgaDa – Adi – vINa kuppaiyer (O)

2) gaNanAdanE – sArangA – Adi – periasAmi thUran (OS)

3) ninnE nera – pantuvarALi – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (ANS)

4) sarOja daLa nEtrI – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – syAma sAstri (ANST)

5) valapu tALa – aTANA – misra chApu – swAti tiruNAL (O)

6) Erumayil (tiruppugazh) – madyamAvati – Adi (tisra gati) – aruNagirinAthar

7) pavamAna (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Sri OST and Sri Ravikiran started the concert by taking turns, one phrase after another, to do a small outline of bEgaDa. After the bEgaDa varnam, they did a short outline of sArangA, this time Sri Ravikiran choosing to play along like a violinist while Sri OST handled the outline. The first detailed alapana of the day was pantuvarALi and the first part was done by Sri Ravikiran with Sri RKS diligently following whatever he played. Sri OST picked up from where Sri Ravikiran ended his part and did a somewhat short but very pleasing alapana. The portions where he just held his breath on a few notes with good shruti sudham were especially enjoyable. The last kalpana swaram in the pantuvarALi kriti “ninnE nera” started with an exchange of improvisations between Sri Ravikiran and Sri UKS. Sri OST then took off and finished the kalpana swaram with a kOrvai.

The shankarAbharaNam alapana was the pick of the day. The first part of the alapana saw Sri OST in the lead with Sri Ravikiran and Sri Sriramkumar following closely whatever he sang. Chitravina as an accompanying instrument sounded so nice here. In many places, it even sounded nicer than the violin. The place where violin probably won was in the continuity and holding/playing of a swara for some length in time. Maybe a chitravina with a bow would take care of that too 😉 The task started by OST was led to its desired conclusion by Sri Ravikiran. He did the second part of the alapana very beautifully with Sri OST keenly watching the slide at close quarters.

The shankarAbharaNam kalpana swarams saw Sri OST launch himself into graha bhEdam mode where he took rishabam as the base to get kharaharapriyA, then gandhAram as base to get tODi and then madhyamam as base to get kalyANi. For example, when singing with rishabam as the base, Sri OST would explicitly sing rishabam as shadjam and sing the other notes with shifted scale. Whether graha bhEdam can be applied at the kalpana swaram stage is debatable as graha bhEdam is a concept that doesn’t quite hold true at the note frequency level. It is still okay in an alapana or the neraval when tried at the swara sthana level. The good part was that Sri OST sang only the notes of the base shankarAbharaNam at the shifted scales thus preserving the frequencies and only showing relative shifts. This thing is difficult and requires quite a bit of practice to do with the ease with which Sri OST executed it. Sri Ravikiran tried the almost the same thing on the chitravina when his turn came but then graha bhedam, I feel, cannot be conveyed through an instrument to the effect it can be through vocal with some instrument like the violin playing the shifting base notes. Had Sri RKS played the base notes more loudly, it would have probably been more easier to identify the shifts on the chitravina. The brilliance of Sri Ravikiran shone through when, instead of playing the kalyANi that Sri OST sang with madhyamam as the base, he played S G M D N S with the madhyamam base to give a sunAdavinOdini like feel !!

I am at a loss of words to describe the beauty of the taniavartanam that came at the end of it all. Sri UKS and Sri Sundar Kumar made it sound so good and Sri UKS played some of the sollus at untouchable speeds with unimaginable clarity.

The chitravina again stood out with its beautiful accompaniment to the short aTANA alapana done by Sri OST. The concert ended with a tiruppugazh and a mangaLam after which a turban clad person in the audience who looked like a time traveler (I think Sri P.B. Srinivas?) read out his summary of the concert in English using such adjectives that would have made most listeners scurry over to the nearby bookshop to get a copy of the Oxford dictionary.

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