When the violins sang

Venue: Raga Sudha Hall, 85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore, Chennai

Date: 17 Jan 2007

Organizer: Naada Inbam

Violin Duet: Sri R.K. Sriramkumar & Sri S. Varadarajan

Mridangam: Sri K. Arun Prakash

List of songs:

1) vanajAkshA (varnam) – rItigowLa – kanDa aTa – vINA kuppaiyer (O)

2) kanjadaLAyatAkshI – kamalAmanOhari – Adi – muthuswAmi dIkshitar (ONS)

3) sujana jIvana – khamAs – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (A)

4) birAna varAlichi – kalyANi – Adi (tisra gati) – syAma sAstri (ANS)

5) inta sowkhya – kApi – Adi – thyAgarAja (A)

6) viDajAladurA – janaranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja

7) pakkala nilabaDi – kharaharapriyA – misra chApu – thyAgarAja (ANST)

8 ) ini enna pEchu – sahAnA – rUpakam – subbarAmayyA (O)

9) kanDu danya – behAg – rUpakam – purandaradAsa ? (O)

10) anri ulagam aLandAi – sindhubhairavi – Adi – AnDAL (A)

11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – sowrAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

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

It was a day when the violins literally sang. Two of the best violin artists of the present generation and celebrated accompanists – Sri R.K. Sriramkumar and Sri S. Varadarajan, came together and presented a violin duet concert at the Raga Sudha Hall in Mylapore. The concert started with a beautiful rendition of one of my favorite varnams, the rItigowLa aTa tALa varnam. It came very close to the best rendition of this varnam I have heard so far (by Sri T.N. Seshagopalan). Then came a beautiful outline of kamalAmanOhari done by Sri R.K. Sriramkumar followed by the kriti “kanjadaLAyatAkshi“.  A very good alapana of khamAs by Sri R.K. Sriramkumar followed this which was praised effusively by violin maestro Sri T.N. Krishnan, who was present among the audience for the first few set of songs. kalyANi and kharaharapriyA alapanas were done by Sri S. Varadarajan and to me the kharaharapriya alapana was the best portion of the great concert. Every song was played as though someone was sitting there and singing it.

Albeit belonging to different schools and having not given many public performances (to my knowledge) in the past, the two violinists played as though they have been performing as a pair for years together. They played in almost perfect unison and supported each other very well wherever required. I also somehow felt that they played with a lot of restraint. Personally, I have observed them take a lot more liberties and bring their imagination a lot more to the forefront when they play alapanas as accompanists. May be the presence of Sri T.N. Krishnan played a part in this.

Sri K. Arun Prakash was his usual self, tapping where required and enhancing the overall quality of the concert with his excellent accompaniment. The organizer SVK has this habit of summarizing the concert and commenting on the performance after the main item of the day gets over. He sometimes speaks very trickily and it is difficult to judge whether he is taking someone’s ass or praising him/her. He summarized Sri Arun Prakash’s  playing as being highly efficient i.e, “something that gives maximum effect with minimum usage” 😉  Today however, he clarified on which side he is when he said he is personally a fan of Sri Arun Prakash.

Sri Arun Prakash played the taniavartanam in misra chApu very intelligently. The taniavartanam was given in “pakkala nilabaDi” at “manasuna dalachi” which starts 3 counts (3/4th of a beat) after samam. To my (limited) knowledge, with this eduppu, it is not possible to play any naDais and end them with a kOrvai other than the chatusra naDai.   Initially Sri Arun Prakash played a small chatusra naDai portion followed by a tisra naDai portion without any kOrvais. He played some interesting patterns in the tisra naDai. One of the patterns went like this (1 avartanam of misra chapu = 3.5 beats = 14 counts) : two lengths of that pattern which would have come to 10.5 beats (3 avartanams) in normal chatusra naDai were played within two avartanams (which is tisram). He played the tisram portions samam to samam. He ended the taniavartanam with a kOrvai that lasted for 71 counts one time and 213 counts when played three times so as to end at 3 counts after samam when started from samam. Silence intervals were beautifully used within this kOrvai.

4 thoughts on “When the violins sang

  1. Allow me to be profoundly, profoundly jealous. I’d heard that this duet was initially scheduled to take place during the season, and I was awaiting it hungrily when I was in Mds. And then they perform less than a week after I leave. Sriram and Sri Varadarajan and Arun are such, such fine musicians that I can fully imagine how good this concert was.

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