When Sandeep Narayan rendered ‘Gita vadya natana’ in Natakapriya as the piece de resistance, his concert felt like a tribute to composer Thanjavur Sankara Iyer, who died in May this year. The young vocalist subsequently showed his own capacity to pen, tune and sing by winding up the two-hour programme with a thillana in the late night raga, Bageshri.
Kartik Fine Arts’ Musically Margazhi 2021 came to a close with Sandeep’s concert. Natakapriya, a parent scale in Carnatic music, is not often heard, despite its curious intertwining of popular ragas, Chakravakam and Thodi. The 12-minute alapana climaxed in long upper-range passages, treated in a way that was close to the Hindustani Ahir Bhairav. H.N. Bhaskar enhanced it with the violin.
Interesting swara patterns
As Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s foremost disciple, Sandeep occasionally brings in shades of his guru’s style. The swaraprastara wove interesting patterns, the nasal tightness in the voice in the higher register again reminded of Sanjay. A tani avartanam by K. Sai Giridhar (mridangam) and K.V. Gopalakrishnan (kanjira) in eight-beat adi tala was pleasingly elaborate, though the latter was almost inaudible through the concert due to an audio problem.
Towards the end of the Bageshri, Sandeep, interestingly, rendered an alapana. Although brief, the thillana bore experimental features, adding to the camaraderie on the stage.
Sandeep opened with the two-speed ‘Ninnukori’ varnam in Vasanta. He hit the higher areas with falsetto-laced loops, much like Sanjay (both disciples of late Calcutta Krishnamurthy).
The brisk-paced passages enabled Sai to give ample display of his percussive skill, which came to the fore a second time in the niraval of the subsequent kriti. Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s ‘Bhavasagaram karai eralum’ in Shanmukhapriya saw Sandeep take up the line ‘Bhakti pannippadi’ for melodic improvisation. The latter half was rendered as a fervent appeal and bore an edgy quality.
Sankarabharanam was the sub-main suite. Sandeep’s alapana brimmed with classicism while Bhaskar’s response was more reposeful, testimony to the technical skills of the instrumentalist. ‘Bhakti biccha’ (Tyagaraja) was tidy, with the swara sequences largely plain. The relays were long at one stage.
Swati Tirunal’s presence was marked with a refreshing ‘Paramapurusham’ in Lalitapanchamam, a derivative of Mayamalavagowla. The quick item was a harbinger to the centrepiece.
After the thani came the folksy raag Maund. The song chosen was ‘Ganam pozhivan Kannan’ by the 20th century Tamil composer, N.S. Chidambaram.
The Kerala-based reviewer focuses on music and dance.