Ramakrishnan Murthy turns Bilahari exposition enjoyable

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When Ramakrishnan Murthy performed at a concert organised by ARTery in remembrance of legendary violinist T.N. Krishnan, he lent the same sweet melody to his rendition that Krishnan was famous for.

Painted in all the hues of Bilahiri, it was an eka kriti concert. Ramakrishnan’s raga alapana was sketched conventionally with some sweet sancharas in the madhya stayi. The 20-minute essay was a planned package. Shriram Kumar’s raga alapana included more aesthetics and went towards the ‘rakti’ components more strikingly. As if spurred by that, Ramakrishnan came up with an impressively structured vibrant tanam. It was refreshing to see a creative approach to the tanam; not every artiste seems to realise its emotive potential. Tyagaraja confirms his status as a blessed devotee, who has the order to serve Rama, in ‘Dorakuna ituvanti seva’. With three charanams and even an uncharacteristic double-speed suffix in the Dikshitar style, ‘Dorakuna ituvanti seva’ was indeed a magnum opus. Ramakrishnan’s kriti discipline and enjoyment came to the fore as he handled the composition with tender care. His diction brought out the lyrical beauty of the words. The niraval at ‘Kamita paladayakiyow seetha kantuni’ was brilliant, especially in the second speed combining with Shriram Kumar’s swift and engaging riposte.

Pleasing swara segments

In the swara segments, Ramakrishnan stuck to pleasing patterns. There was perhaps an opportunity to blend creative laya, given that the niraval was at the ‘sama’ beat, but he may have opted to stay from it to respect the TNK ethos. Over-demonstration of scholarship can mar such a goal. Shriram Kumar was a gentle foil to the vocalist, having himself been a part of TNK’s schooling and apprenticing also under another exponent, V.V. Subrahmanyam.

With the largely sarvalaghu course of the concert, Delhi Sairam and N. Guruprasad did precisely what was expected — oaring in unison with soothing strokes, the thani’s special colours notwithstanding. If TNK had been among the audience, he would have flashed his conservative smile and relished the concert. Performers apart, preservers are also required to take music forward. ARTery deserves credit for many years of purposeful and curated work withoutflashy publicity.

The writer is a classical music critic and commentator.

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