Venue: Musiri Chamber Concerts, 28/2, Musiri Subramaniam Road, Mylapore
Date: 07 Jan 2007
Vocal: Smt. Suguna Purushothaman
Violin: Smt. Usha Rajagopalan
Mridangam: Sri Tanjore Kumar
List of songs:
1) gajAnanam bhUta gaNadi (prayer) – hamsadwani & kharaharapriyA
2) shankara hara priya (varnam) – rAgamAlikA – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
(pallavi: kharhapriyA, anupallavi: kOkilapriyA, chiTTaswaram: rAmapriyA, charaNam: shanmukhapriyA, swaram 1: pasupatipriyA, swaram 2: rishabapriyA, swaram 3: gAyakapriyA, swaram 4: rasikapriyA)
3) gaNapatiyE sharaNam – yadukulakAmbOji – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman (S)
4) chaturmukha nAyaki – saraswati – chaturmukha tAlam – suguNA purushOthaman (O)
5) kanDEn kanDEn – aTANA – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
6) krupajUDa samayamammA – hamsalatikA – kanDa chApu – suguNA purushOthaman (AS)
7) tiruvarangA nI irangAyanil – kOkilapriyA – misra chApu – suguNA purushOthaman (ON)
8 ) kanakadurgAmbA kAvavE – bilahari – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman (O)
9) tirumagaLE kaDaikkaN – valaji – tisra jampa (tisra gati) – suguNA purushOthaman (A)
10) madurakALi ambA – bhairavi – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman (AST)
11) lakshmIsamEta nArAyaNa – mOhanam – lakshmIsa – suguNA puruthOthaman
12) varAL ippOdE ambikai – varALi – misra chApu – suguNA purushOthaman (O)
13) navamaNigaLilE nalla maNi – yamunAkalyANi – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman (O)
14) rAma nAmam amudam – Ahir bhairav – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
15) nIlavaNNanai ninaindAl – shudha sArang – misra chApu – suguNA purushOthaman
16) kaNNan varuvAnO (padam) – nIlAmbari – misra chApu – suguNA purushOthaman (O)
17) gOvindA harE gOvindA – rAgamAlikA – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
18) kaNNan naTanam AdinAn – rAgamAlikA (kalyANi, hamIrkalyANi, pUrvikalyANi, mOhanakalyANi & yamunAkalyANi) – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
19) rAma bhakta hanumAn – jOnpuri – Adi – suguNA purushOthaman
20) pavamAna (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja
(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)
There are a few concerts that just make you feel ecstatic, give you a sense of contentment and leave you admiring and enjoying whatever fraction of the unfathomable beauty of Carnatic Music you are able to fathom. I had the fortune of attending two such concerts this week – one by Vidwan Sri R.K. Srikantan and the other one yesterday by Vidushi Smt. Suguna Purushothaman. This is the first time I was hearing her live. Given what I had heard from many people about the richness of her music, I went to the concert with a lot of expectations and came back completely satisfied.
Smt. Suguna Purushothaman presented a close to 3 hrs concert on her own compositions as a part of the Musiri Chamber Concerts series conducted at the place where her guru Sri Musiri Subramaniam used to live. There were three major factors that contributed to make this concert appeal so much to me (and I am sure to many other rasikas). The first one was the fact that it was a chamber concert in a small hall which meant that there was much more interaction possible between the artists and the rasikas and also that the rasikas could observe the artists at such close quarters. The second one was the undeniably superior vidwat of Smt. Suguna herself that was apparent throughout the concert. Thirdly, almost all the compositions were written beautifully in Tamil using simple but effective words at many places and rendered with clear diction which meant that I could understand and appreciate the lyrical beauty of the compositions along with the melody. She sang the songs so clearly that one could just sit there and note down the lyrics easily.
Smt. Suguna started her concert by thanking the organizers for giving her an opportunity to sing in her guru’s house at the start of the new year and also thanked the rasikas who had assembled there. Just when she announced that she will be singing her own compositions, there was a disturbing crackle from the mic. Smt. Suguna looked at the person adjusting the audio equipment and said:“edhavadhu kobamaa? meedhi paattu venalum paadaren kandippa (Are you angry? I will certainly sing songs of other composers too if you want)” 🙂 . She then started the concert with a traditional prayer to Lord Ganesha “gajAnanam bhUta gaNAdi” in hamsadwani and kharaharapriya and then went on to sing a “Priya Ragamalika Varnam” in the ragas kharaharapriya, kOkilapriyA, rAmapriyA, shanmukhapriyA, pasupatipriyA, rishabapriyA, gAyakapriyA and rasikapriyA. The third song of the concert in raga saraswati was set in chaturmukha tAlam, which she said, was one of the 108 talams. “kanDEn kanDEn kanDEn tiruvaiyATrinai” in aTANA which Smt Suguna composed in 1957 on her first visit to Tiruvaiyyaru followed next and was beautifully rendered.
Smt. Suguna said that she had learnt the nuances of pallavi singing from mridangam maestro Tinniam Venkatramiah. He had this idea of combining hamsadwani and latAngi in one raga and had named it as hamsalatA which later was named as hamsalatikA. Smt. Suguna said that she had composed a song in this raga with ArohaNam as hamsadwani and avarOhaNam as latAngi. She said that she had composed this in Telugu, a language not much known to her back then when she was young, but a language in which she knew a lot of words from her repertoire of Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions. She jovially remarked that she didn’t venture any more into areas not known to her. As remarked by her, singing this raga was like walking on a thin wire and both she as well as Smt. Usha Rajagopalan did a great job both in the raga alapana as well as in the song.
The next song “tiruvarangA nI irangAyanil” in kOkilapriyA had this beautiful line in the charanam “AnDALai tirumaNam konDAi, AzhwArgaLil manam konDAi“. Initially Smt. Suguna Purushothaman finished the song without a neraval. A rasika requested her to sing neraval with the charaNam line to which she readily complied. What a fantastic neraval it was !!!!
“tirumagaLE kaDaikkaN” in valaji, she said, was inspired by a tiruppugazh that Sri Tinniam Venkatramiah had taught her in tisra jAti jampa tALam in tisra gati. The main song of the day in bhairavi, “madurakALi ambA”, she said, had been composed by her recently on her visit to madurakALi ambAL temple near Trichy. The next song was in lakshmIsa tALam, one of the 108 tALams. She said she was inspired to compose this after learning a tillAna in this tALam composed by Sri Ramnad Raghavan from Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and from the fact that she wanted to keep a “tALa mudra” in a song as usually only “rAga mudras” appear in songs. The song that followed it was in raga varALi. It was movingly rendered highlighting beautiful prayOgAs in the rAgA. Again the beautiful lyrics enhanced the listening experience. The song “rAma nAmam amudam” was again a rasika request. When making the request, the rasika probably didn’t remember the name of the song and told “pibarE rAmarasam” instead as it is in a similar tune to which Smt. Suguna jokingly remarked “ayyayyO adhu naan pannavE illai (I didn’t create that at all)” 😉 .
Three more songs which I enjoyed listening to a lot were “nIlavaNNanai ninaindAl”, “gOvindA harE gOvindA” and “rAma bhakta hanumAn”. Smt. Suguna ended her concert with Sri Thyagaraja’s traditional mangaLam as she said she had composed mangaLams too but didn’t remember any readily.