In the contemporary scene of classical music, it is not often that you listen to a concert completely devoid of fashionable frills, breathtaking speed, rare raagas occupying centre stage. Sumitra Vasudev in her concert on the fourth day of Kalasagaram – 2020 did exactly that.
From the moment she started with a small Vrutham followed by the Varnam in raaga Sama, she seemed to clearly announce that the next two hours plus is a dedication to classicism and not contemporary interpretations of popular traps populist music.
M Vijay Kumar on the violin, B Ganapathi Raman on the mrudangam and Guru Prasad on the ghatam were alongside her. Each finding their specific moments in the course of the evening.
The concert began with a Varnam in Sama of Kothavasal Venkataramana Iyer. Sumitra then went to interpret Chakravakam with a detailed and finely executed alapana of the raaga. She presented Sugunamule of Thyagaraja.
It was a controlled display of the raaga and its nuances. G was how one would analyse the presentation. It is obvious that the training from yet another stalwart of the school R Vedavalli was the stamp visible in the presentation. Also, the Musuri School was clearly evident. There was no attempt to needlessly walk a new path. Vijay’s violin was noteworthy.
Devadi Deva in Sindhunamakriya of Dikshitar was a simple rendering but attractive and bringing out the nuances of the raaga by building up its structure. Again, Vijay was so good in his reply. Neraval and swaras were attractive. Her Mukari was yet again a reiteration of how music in its basic form lends beauty and melody. The raaga is believed to be rendered as the wake-up tune for temple deities in temples. Though rendered in the middle of the evening concert, it carried the morning bliss of a riverside temple.
Pahimam, the Muthuswami Dikshitar Kriti added the right texture to the mood and scope of the raaga. One cannot but voice appreciation for the non-complicated interpretation that Sumitra gave to Mukari. Karunai Tandennai in Begada was a quick interlude on the way to the main piece for the evening.
Saveri was the nucleus of the concert. No gimmicks. Again, characterised by sangatis seeped in purity; her interpretation of Saveri showcased its essence. Vijay was an equal to the job. Rendering kriti, neraval and swaras were very pleasing and the informed audience sure had their appetite satiated. Seasoned percussionists Ganapathi Raman and Guru Prasad displayed their skill in Thani avarthanam.
The evening was coming to a close. A small Virutham in Kedaragowla followed by the Tamil Pasuram in Sindhu Bhairavi were rendered in the closing moments of the evening. Sumitra Vasudev concluded her concert with a Thillana of Ammachatram Kannusamy Pillai.In the midst of very stylised and contemporaneous music, it was a fine return to the traditional and a reiteration that slow, calm, clear music is still something to go for.
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