(G.Subramaniam – The Hindu, 18/01/18) – For me, Sugandha Kaalamegam’s vocal recital, in Chennai, marked a welcome return to the longer version of the kutcheri this season. This is perhaps not the occasion to elaborate this claim. But the analogy is not to be taken to mean some casual comparison with the contracted format of the game of cricket.
The 150-minute recital before a full house was reminiscent of all that is traditionally associated with Carnatic music. From the Ata tala varnam in raga Thodi (‘Kanakangi’) to the ragam tanam pallavi in Saveri, the recital was a sober blend of melody and virtuosity.
Obeisance to the Trinity
‘Brochevarevare,’ in Sriranjani, set a nice variation in tempo for what was to follow. The Tyagaraja kriti alongwith Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Abhayambaya’ and Syama Sastry’s ‘Kamakshi,’ in Varali completed the artiste’s early obeisance to the Trinity.
But the veteran vidushi would return to Tyagaraja not long thereafter. ‘Sarojanabha dayarnava mamava,’ in raga Chakravagam concluded the first part of the recital. The centre-piece of the morning was ‘Tanayuni brova,’ one of Tyagaraja’s innumerable compositions in raga Bhairavi. ‘Prananatha birana brovumu,’ was a nice and short variation before the ragam thanam pallavi. ‘Isane Chidambaram vazh Natarajane, Kanakasabayil natanamadum,’ the pallavi composition had to be confined to the principal scale of Saveri, possibly owing to the paucity of time. The penultimate piece, ‘Teruvil varano satru enpakkam parano,’ in raga Khamas was a beauty.
Padma Shankar, who provided accompaniment on the violin, has evidently evolved into an artiste in her own right since I had occasion to listen to her years ago.
Shertallai R Ananthakrishnan on the mridangam and Sukanya Ramgopal on the ghatam were equally noteworthy.