A five-day Carnatic music festival was held in Kochi, the first of its kind in the city after the pandemic outbreak and lockdown. A seasoned performer, Sreevalsan J Menon’s was the inaugural concert.
Sreevalsan is a stickler to tradition in the way he executes a composition and revels in the improvisations. Tonal purity and pitching are highlights of his singing and he chooses the right kalapramana for the compositions. His aalapana and swara essays in the concert did not come with surprises. Instead, emotively-charged niraval singing proved to be his forte. This was especially evident for the first line niraval renditions for ‘Kana vendamo’ in Sriranjani and the Tyagaraja masterpiece ‘Jagadanandakaraka’ in Natta raga. He was accompanied by Balakrishna Kamath on the mridangam, Edappally Ajith Kumar on the violin and Vazhappilly Krishnakumar on the ghatam.
Presenting a Kathakali padam as the centre piece with all its improvisational elements is a recent trend in Sreevalsan’s concerts. The famed ‘Samyamakannorudyanam’ from the second day of Nalacharitham in Poorvikalyani raga went well with the small audience. Niraval on the line ‘kangelichampakadi’ was incandescent and was apt for a rhythmic finish for swaras.
Flautist Hariprasad Subramaniam hails from a family of Nagaswaram vidwans. At a young age, he has blossomed into a potential artiste to reckon with and shows immense promise for the future. His concert on the penultimate day had Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Samaganalone’ in Hindolam raga as the main composition.
Due to time constraints, the aalapana was succinct. Hariprasad’s playing of the kriti and the swaras was an ideal blend of melody, technique and content. This was preceded by an unhurried bhava-oriented aalapana of Neelambari raga and the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Neekedaya raka’. Madhav Gopi on the violin and Kalainath on the mridangam did a fair job as accompanists.
A hugely popular playback singer, KS Harishankar’s concert featured Tamil compositions such as ‘Eesane kotisurya prakashane’ in Nalinakanti by Muthuthandavar and ‘Anandanadamaduvar thillai’ in Poorvikalyani. His elaboration of Kamboji raga for the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Evarimata’, took the oft-trodden route. However, the kalpanaswaras displayed some interesting laya aesthetics and this was complemented well by promising violinist Gokul Alangode. After the first day, Balakrishna Kamath and Krishnakumar again came together to create a taniavarthanam, which was marked by precision and stylistics. Harishankar sang soothingly a light composition ‘Marathaka manivarna’ in Bhagesree and a thillana.
Harish Sivaramakrishnan of ‘Agam’ fame gave a concert on the final day. Grappling with a sore throat, the vocalist endured and won in keeping an expectant audience in thrall. His elaborate raga aalapanas, some lasting almost 15 minutes and executed in three or four phases, saw the singer caressing each note and highlighting its essence to unfold the complete picture of the raga. Hence even raga Surutti, which tends to give repetitive phrases, manifested in every dimension. This was followed by Muthuswami Dikshitar’s navagraha kriti dedicated to mangal ‘Angarakam ashrayamyaham’.
Vivek KC on the violin, Kalainath on the mridangam and Rajeev Gopal on the morsing were the accompanists. The concert stretched up to 10.30 pm. Hence it had a terse ragam and tanam in Shanmukhapriya followed by an Adi tala pallavi using the ‘swaraksharas’ of the raga.
The live event was organised by EDAM (Embrace Dance and Music).