Friday, March 24, 2006

Saxophone recital at Ernakulam Siva Temple

The purists among the Carnatic music lovers welcome the emergence of Saxophone as a concert instrument with a pinch of salt. They do not believe that the instrument can produce tonal texture suitable to the portrayal of rakthi ragas. If any one of these hardliners were to listen to a Saxophone concert by M.S. Lavanya, M.S. Subbalakshmi and M.S. Sudhindra from Mangalore he would have had to retract from his rigid views. The trio, grandchildren of the Asthana mridanga vidwan M.R. Rajappa of the earstwhile royal court of Mysore held the festival crowd at the Ernakulam Siva temple spellbound with their proficiency on the Western instrument.

Both Lavanya and Subbalakshmi are graduates (Sudhindra just has completed his Higher Secondary) and had vocal training from Nagaveni, Flute Gopalakrisna Iyer of Tripunithura (settled in Mangalore), M. Srinath Maratte (AIR) before learning the technique of the instrument from Kadri Gopalnath. Lavanya leading the concert with her younger sister joining it from time to time seemed to be a well-conceived idea, lest the Sahithya part be drowned by the high-pitch playing from the duo.

Sudhindra’s task was to provide the drone or ‘ottu’. Varnam in Valaji composed by Lalgudi was followed by a graceful Hamsadhwani and the ‘sargam’ attached to Mahaganapathim by Indira Nateshan was consummated with a Mohara. Pariyaachakamaa in Vanaspathi (formerly as known as Bhanumathi) set to roopakam in which Tyagaraja appeals to the Lord of refuge, was played in slow tempo. Raja raja raadhithe by Harikeshanallur Muthayya Bhagavthar , designed in the raga Neeroshta, has to be intonated with special lip movements when presented vocally and the sisters played it conforming to its pattern on the difficult instrument Panthuvarali was given elegance by Lavanya, with the composition Siva siva Siva. Ranjani mridu with its delectable score by Thanjavur Sankara Iyer made way for a Swarajathi, created by Syama Sasthri. Kamakshi Anudinamu was cleanly presented, with its peculiar rhythm set –up in ‘Viloma chaappu’. Despite the brief spell of summer showers playing spoilsport, the sisters surged ahead with the depiction of Mohanam and the swaras fastened to Nanu palimpa had a scintillating finish. Baaro Krishnayya by Purandaradasa, Brahma mukate in Bowli by Annamacahrya and a folk tune in Punnagavarali, helped them to finish the recital. Edappally Ajith bowed on with relish. Mysore Rajappa Sainath (father of the trio) handled mridangam and dholak with expertise. Alappuzha Gopinatha Prabhu (ghatom) and Kottayam Murali twanging the mukharsankhu were efficient.
(By Courtesy The Hindu- Kochi) Feb 1- 2002.


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