Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

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Ajit Ramachandran
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#1 Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Ajit Ramachandran »

We here in London have had a carnatic music drought for quite some time now that we had a wonderful respite from last weekend.

We had the privilege of listening to a wonderful concert of Shri Suryaprakash just over a week ago at Bhavan Centre in West Kensington, London. The concert was a truly satisfying experience and the vidwan's enthusiam is truly infectious - he joyously presented each piece, and that spirit of enjoyment was shared by all his accompanying vidwans as well as the audience at Bhavan.

Unfortunately due to train cancellation issues I arrived just after the first piece which I learnt later was Shri Suryaprakash's own varnam in Brindavani. Coming in to the anupallavi of the evergreen Subrahmanyena rakshithoham (Suddha dhanyasi), the concert was soulful and yet thrilling right up until the mangalam.

Shri Suryaprakash finished the suddha dhanyasi piece with a brisk round of swaras that both Balu Raguraman (on the violin) and Sri Balachander (on Mrudangam) responded to enthusiastically cascading to the first of many crescendos for the evening.

The artiste must be commended on his choice of ragams, songs, and tempo. Every piece surprised and delighted. After the brisk suddha dhanyasi, he plunged into a melodious and soulful devagandhari capturing the raga swarupam in the very first phrase of the alapana. The kriti of choice was Thyaragaja's Na Morala kimpa (rupaka talam) in spite of hints of Vinaradana phrases during the alapana. Balu Raguraman gave a beautiful complementary reply to the vocal alapana on his violin.

From one antara Gandharam (G3) to another that tantalised - Suryaprakash next launched a raga outline that indicated vivadi, initially seemed like Nasikabhushani with the lower scale but then didn't fit the bill. All was revealed when he began Koteeswara iyer's Ganamudapanam. I've heard this song before so i knew it was jyotiswarupini but had never heard an outline before. Kudos to the artistes. This was a nice misrachapu piece.

I mentioned soulful and yet thrilling. The next piece surely fit that bill! The bullet train that followed was launched at anupallavi with a refreshingly original feeling to it - the nalinakanthi piece manavyalakincharaa - the volley of swaras was just unbelievably delightful, innovative, and brought shivers. Kudos to the violin and mridangam, upapakkavadhyam vidwans who not enough kept up, supported, or exchanged swara for swara that they kept up the tempo!

The main piece of the evening followed when Sri Suryaprakash took up Keeravani and elaborated it gradually and majestically. And lo there was yet another surprise in the upper octave when what should show up but a sruti bhedam when Bouli suddenly showed up! It was quite the surprise but i was delighted when Sri Balu Raguraman repeated the same on the violin when it was his turn. I have not seen this happen during the instrumental return and wish more violin vidwans would do this. It added lustre to the concert. Balu's overall alapana response on the violin to the vocalist's keeravani perfectly complemented and rounded out the vocal rendition. Suryaprakash relished every phrase of the ragam as well as the kriti where he performed a complete neraval and swaras. The tani that then followed by Balachander and Prasanna was just exceptional with Guru and Sishyan doing a fabulous job together. Kudos to both guru for his generosity and his able student who rose up to the challenge.

The programme had indicated a roughly 2 to 2.5 hour concert so I was a bit disappointed that we wouldn't have a pallavi but again Sri Suryaprakash didn't disappoint! Although a shorter one due to the lack of time he did full justice with trikalam, ragamalika swaras and pallavi rendition in the other interesting ragas he presented. The pallavi was set to Tisra Triputa and the additional ragams were Behaag, and Srotaswini (he announced this one which we identified as the old version of Udaya ravichandrika which has now merged into Suddha dhanyasi). I guess i'll leave that one to the experts but Srotaswini had a fabulous SGMPNS pentatonic scale and sounds somewhat close to Patdeep also. Some famous ilayaraja pathos-filled compositions of yesteryear also in this ragam.

Time was ticking but the vidwan still gave us a fabulous viruththam observing it was kanda shasti that day launching into Thirumurugatrupadai in sindhu bhairavi before seguing to Muruga's uncle (as he jokingly observed) to do a kannda viruththam in praise of Vishnu following with Srikantha Enagishtu in Bageshri by Purandaradasa.

Mangalam followed with vazhiya Sentamizh

Some concerts remain etched in memory, and this one surely will. My memories of his 4h15m concert at Rasikalaya 4 years ago appeared to me when he launched into a Pallavi next! It's a shame that with all the local talent, students, and core rasikas in the community London is still unable to sustain a sampradaya sangeetha sabha that hosts 6-8 concerts consistently a year.

On that note Bhavan has been truly commendable remaining the lone stable torchbearer or all indian classical art forms, and with a special place for carnatic music year after year. We hope to see Suryaprakash-sir back again soon and more such concerts at the bhavan every year.

Full Song List below



1. Varnam - own composition - Brindavani - adi
2. Subrahmanyena - suddha Dhanyasi - adi - Dikshithar - raga outline & S
3. Na Morala kimpa - devagandhari - rupakam - Thyagaraja - R
4. Ganamudapanam - Jyothiswaroopini - misra chapu - koteeswara Iyer - Outline raga
5. Manavyala - Nalinakanthi - adi - Thyagaraja - swaras
6. Kaligiyunte - keeravani - adi - Thyagaraja - r,n,s,t
7. RTP - Revathi - Tisra Triputa - mandahasa vadani - bhashiNi Madhura - trikalam - ragamalika swarams in behag, srothaswini
8. Virutham - Thirumurugatrupadai on the occasion of Kanda shashti seguing to Thirumala, Kandan maamane..
9. Srikantha enagishtu - bagesri - adi - Purandaradasa
10. Mangalam and vazhiya Senthamizh

rajeshnat
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#2 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by rajeshnat »

Ajit Ramachandran
Nice to hear after a long hiatus . It is a bad miss that you could not hear the brindavani varnam . I have personally heard that . I have not heard this revati RTP . The joy of hearing keeravani RNST and RTP Revati is absolutely riveting to say the least , both the ragas revati and keeravani can take so much voice power inside but still it never goes ballistic to ears , what a joy to hear those two , you are lucky to get this kind of combo.

May I know gurus of the violinist and mrudangam artist please. I have heard once Balu raguraman many years back in SKGS but Balachander no luck yet

rajeshnat
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#3 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by rajeshnat »

Ajit Ramachandran wrote: 12 Nov 2019, 04:02 Srotaswini (he announced this one which we identified as the old version of Udaya ravichandrika which has now merged into Suddha dhanyasi).I guess i'll leave that one to the experts but Srotaswini had a fabulous SGMPNS pentatonic scale and sounds somewhat close to Patdeep also. Some famous ilayaraja pathos-filled compositions of yesteryear also in this ragam.
Ajit,
The two illayaraja Srothaswini numbers that I recollect are O vasanta Raaja and Sinthiya venmani the second is bit more popular .I am just curious to know which is the Isaignar illayaraja pathos that you have in mind that I donot know yet or may be i have forgotten. Just in case if you did not know Suryaprakash sang an extraordinary Pallavi in srothaswini . That was surely the first of its kind debut by any musician. If you are hardpressed for time atleast hear the Taanam with mrudu angam and mahakavi bharathi pallavi line which has intense srothaswini.
https://youtu.be/gOZ374yRGB8?t=32

Just curious apart from you ,did Guruguhadasan Rishi Sharma who got his subramanyEna and his friend the kaligiyuntE owner jayaram attend this concert?

arasi
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#4 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by arasi »

Thanks, Ajit, Rajesh, you made my morning...
To us, the unlettered in the shAstra, this sweet rAgA might sound like a gentler tilang and a leisurely nATai too.
I had a glimpse of Jayaram some years ago during the season. He and Rishi write reviews which are well worth reading. Why are they silent?
Wonder if there are other concerts of Surya in the UK.
Dance is a big deal there. In a not so time-restricted a concert, hope Suryaprakash would choose to sing something from his engirundO vandAi album which as doyen Dr. Chandrashekar remarked at the release, has songs which are apt for dance numbers. No pressure there of course, SP :)

Nick H
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#5 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Nick H »

I have not studdied the Season Schedules yet, but I happened to notice that Suryaprakash and Balu are performing together at Mylapore Fine Arts, 4pm, 26 December.

arasi
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#6 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by arasi »

Nick,
I was about to add that you would be the person to give more information about the accompanists, when Rajesh asked.

Nick H
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#7 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Nick H »

Sri M Balachandar learnt from Sri Coimbattur Ramaswamy Pillai and Sri Ramanathapuram M N Kandaswami Pillai. They were students of Sri Palani Subramaniam Pillai.

Ajit Ramachandran
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#8 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Ajit Ramachandran »

Rajesh - sorry for the delay responding. I see Nick has already confirmed Balachander's gurus. Balu Raguraman trained under leading maestros including Late Sri. Ulsoor S. Chandrasekhar, Sri. A Sundharesan and Sri. V.V. Subramaniam. He also trained under Sri.V.Thiagarajan and Smt. Neela Ramgopal. He is performing this December Season with Sikkil Gurucharan, TVS, Suryaprakash, and possibly one other that I can try and find out.

Re: Srotaswini - thanks of the youtube link - this ragam is amazing and the RTP you shared is a fantastic listen. Thank you.

Yes, I thought Rishi would be in the audience when Suryaprakash offered up Subramanyena but I don't think he was able to make it.

Arasi - yes, we are hoping Bhavan brings Suryaprakash back next year. We hosted him in 2015 for a 4 hour concert - i'd posted a link in this thread back to that original concert report. That concert is another amazing memory.

rajeshnat
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#9 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by rajeshnat »

Ajit
What was the srothaswini pathos song of isaignani illayaraja that you had in mind apart from the two other songs that I had mentioned . I am just curious. You have not answered.

Thanks for Balu Raguraman guru information. The minimal concert that I heard of him in SKGS(I think Nisha Rajagopal concert) i can recollect the azhuttam in his violin which made me think of may be he is a student of VVS . Thank you while googling the only mention that I get about him is that he had a bangalore stint prior to he taking up long term work in London. We hope to see and hear more Balu Raguraman in chennai.

Nick H
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#10 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Nick H »

By the way... Balu Raghuraman learnt mridangam from Srimushnam Raja Rao. And Bala learned dance accompaniment from M. V. Narasimhachari: he was/is one of the handful of mridangists to play for both concert and dance.

While I was visiting last month, he told his students some stories about his interactions with M S Gopalakrishnan. He is a great story teller!

Ajit Ramachandran
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#11 Re: Concert Report - Sri Suryaprakash - Balu Raguraman - Balachander - Bhavan London - November 2019

Post by Ajit Ramachandran »

Rajesh

I was only thinking of “O vasanta raja” probably more an exaggeration to call it pathos upon reflection..

I remember also “megha chaaye” from the Hindi film Sharmilee which seems to resemble shades of srotaswini but I may be mistaken

Cheers
Ajit

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