Friday, July 23, 2010


Veenavaadhini recently presented two veena chamber concerts as part of Tribute To Trinity series.

Concert #1: Kum HR Meenakshi - Veena (Student of Veenavaadhini), Sri Sajeev - Mridangam. Click here to listen to this concert.

Concert #2: Sri L Ramakrishnan - Veena, Sri Ramkumar - Mridangam

It was Meenakshi's maiden veena performance and she was blessed to have Kalpakam Mami witness it. Our pranams to Mami and it was wonderful to have her grace the event. Thanks to Ramakrishnan for bringing her, and for playing a wonderful concert. Sajeev and Ramkumar gave excellent support.

Meenakshi played with sensitivity and presented all the songs and the manodharma aspects neatly, with emphasis on bhava. Her songlist is as follows:

1. vanajAksha - Mandari Varnam
2. brovavamma - Neelambari - Syama Sastri
3. saileshwaram - Sumadyuti – Muthuswamy Dikshitar
4. thavadAsoham - Punnagavarali - Tyagarajaswamy

L. Ramakrishnan, disciple of Smt Kalpakam Swaminathan, presented a very classical concert.

Given below is a review of L Ramakrishnan's concert penned by rasika S. Sivaramakrishnan.

List of kriti-s
1) sarasUDa (varnam) – sAvEri – Adi – kothavAsal venkaTrAma iyer
2) shvEta gaNapatim – rAgacUDAmaNi – tisra tripuTa – muthusvAmi dIkSitar
3) sarasvati namOstutE – sarasvati – rUpakam – g.n. bAlasubramaNiam
4) bhavanuta – mOhanam – Adi – tyAgarAja
5) hiraNmayIm – lalitA – rUpakam – muthusvAmi dIkSitar
6) sarOja daLa nEtrI – shankarAbharaNam – Adi – shyAma sAstri
7) sarasamu – kApi – Adi – rAmanAthapuram srInivAsa iyengAr
8 ) patiki hArati rE – suraTi – Adi – tyAgarAja

It is but a fact that only those with a high degree of commitment to classical music would retain their passion for Veena. L Ramakrishnan (presently a disciple of Smt Kalpagam Swaminathan who graced the occasion) fitted the bill perfect when he gave a quality chamber concert at Veenavaadhini. Trinity's compositions was the main theme.

As a person who has been at the 'playing side' as well as the 'receiving side' in Veena recitals, I can very well appreciate the 'travails' of a Vainika. Perfect Sruti alignment of the instrument and ensuring an aesthetic acoustics are indeed obvious challenges the artist has to tackle before he begins the concert.

Another hidden challenge (known only to the player) is 'calibrating himself' to the 'melam status' of the Veena wherein subtle adjustments need to be made throughout the playing to overcome any micro-tone differences in the swarasthaana-s. Perhaps this is one important reason why many vainika-s try the electronic veena-s. Ramakrishnan used the traditional Veena and tackled the challenges quite well.

But by the time he settled down, the varnam was over (The varnam is a casualty even in vocal concerts and is invariably a mike-test item!).

Svetaganapatim in Ragachudamani was perhaps being heard for the first time by most in the audience including me. (But whether the scale is a choodamani of a raga seems to be debatable). LR rendered this samashticharana piece commendably well. Saraswati served the twin purpose of addressing the Veena goddess as well as remembering the composer whose centenary is being observed this year.

Bhavanuta came as refreshing piece in a contrasting scale. Lalita was thoughtfully placed before Sankarabharanam. Aalaapana with taana in Ghanaraaga panchakam was presented briefly. A few additional taana avartanams in the main raga could have been attempted by LR.

The outstanding thing about LR's rendering of saraojadalanetri was the Niraval segment. In Veena kutcheri-s listeners may not be often able to distinguish between Niraval and swaraprastaara. Ramakrishnan's grasp of the underlying features and fingering techniques stood out. Swaraprastaara with a neat korvai completed the kriti.

The concluding items in Kaapi and Surati were sober and communicative.

Ramakrishnan's Kaalapramaana was very good. A collar-mike could perhaps help the vainika to take the vocal rendering to the audience better.

Ramkumar, the young mridangist played enthusiastically.

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