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Missing, the vidwat factor

IN THE unhindered anxiety to reach and maintain the top slot, standards in Carnatic music have become very fragile. It looks as if the importance of Carnatic music found since the beginning of this century, is fading. This is mainly due to the peculiar circumstances in recent years. The old veterans have left the field; their sishyas are thrown into the shadows. The new generation has taken hold of the scene, conservative ideologies quietly surrendering their place to a commercial environment. The old rhetoric of tradition seems to be no more worthwhile.

The gulf between old standards and the present pursuits is widening. Many youngsters seem to identify a good voice as the be-all and end-all of lofty musical culture. Either it is softening of the voice to the extent of crooning or if it is a natural gifted voice, it is exercised extravagantly to excess, as if to tell the rasikas, ``see the reach of my voice in the top octave and what showers of brigas.'' But they hardly realise that vidwat eludes both categories of vocal emaciation or exuberance. The question arises whether vidwat has to command the voice or the latter decides what depth of vidwat fragility can carry.

Nithyasree Mahadevan's style is powerful and energetic, controlled and imaginative. But the flaw lay in the excess of vocalism she allowed herself in her concert for the Sri Thyagaraja Seva Samithi. She communicated the raga lakshnas faultlessly, but there was little of reverie in the exposition. Perpetual ascents and descents in the raga alapana robbed the recital of much of the contemplative aspects of Carnatic music. She expended frenetic energy to cruise in the regions beyond the top shadja, heavy lines, exuberant tone leading her to expository excess. Thereby she made her music attractive. Atana and Karaharapriya were the two ragas taken up for alapana.

Atana was rambling so much so the sharpness of Atana's characteristic appeal got blurred. It was left to the violinist M. A. Krishnaswamy to capture the raga's eloquence. To the vocal assertiveness of Nithyasree Mahadevan, Krishnaswamy's strings sounded soothing and spontaneous. The other raga essay was Karaharapriya which was picturised with flashes of decorative sancharas. More karvais and madhyamakala passage would have endowed weight to the alapana. The violinist again scored with depth and delicacy.

The list of songs included ``Jagadanandakaraka'' (Nattai), ``Bhajanaseyu marga'' (Narayani), ``Dunmargachara'' (Ranjani), ``Ennadu Joothunu'' (Kalavathy), ``Epapamu Jesithira'' (Atana) and ``Chakkani Raja marga'' which happened to be the main item.

Nithyasree Mahadevan is quite strong in rendering kritis and they came out with tempo and force. Sivakumar (mridangam) and A.S. Krishnan (morsing) kept the percussive wing quite adequately, if not illuminatingly.

Two cassettes of Divya Desa kritis in Sanskirt of a not very prominent composer, Prof. S. Aravamudachariar, were released by Srimad Andavan Swami. Sanskrit-knowing rasikas appreciated the sahitya rendered by the grand-daughters and son A. Srinivasaraghavan in a concert after the function. Others enjoyed the kirtana structuring. The accompanists were Mullaivasal Chandramouli (violin) and Karaikurichi Mohanram (mridangam).

- SVK.

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