Amritha Murali’s concert was all about good programming


Carnatic Vocal by Amritha Murali at the Music Academy on December 20, 2022 .
| Photo Credit: KRISHNAN V.V.

Amritha Murali brought to the fore many years of good classical training and the desire to deliver a strong cocktail of all elements in her concert for The Music Academy. She excelled in good programming that left her with one third of the concert time for essaying a complex pallavi in Begada.

The concert was off to a flyer that seemed like a powerplay tactic. Both ‘Ra ra ma inti’ (Asaveri, Tyagaraja) and ‘Sani todi theve’ (Harikamoboji, Tyagaraja) were rendered on high gears, both in terms of tempo and volume. Swara segments were routine but brisk. In the Purvikalyani alapana, Amritha sought to showcase her more classical instinct that covered every shade of the ragam. Amritha’s remarkable clarity at the lower octaves reflected good grooming of the voice. ‘Ninnavina’ (Syama Sastri) is the quintessential go-to kriti for many artistes to anchor higher order musical skills with its myriad sangathis and mircro tala nuances. The viloma chapu kriti was competently rendered as Amritha unleashed a power-packed niraval and swaram at ‘Kamitaphala’. Violinist Vijay was a good foil in these sections, with equal dynamism.

Brigas and karvais in limited measure

‘Neerajakshi kamakshi’ (Hindolam, Dikshitar) was sung with more leisure and flattish notes that characterise the Dikshitar ‘dharma’ that many allude to. Brigas and karvais were deployed in limited measure that took the flavour to a Hindustani style. Amritha’s handling of the Bhairavi alapana was less conventional as she built the core around the middle notes and above, perhaps to offer a brighter canvas or keeping in sync with the kriti (‘Raksha pettarem’, Tyagaraja) that also travels less to the lower notes. The raga alapana was classic but was sometimes clichéd. Vijay used a short-phrase structure delivering more impact and nuances. One has heard of the kriti in a few modified tempos and Amritha’s version was a shade faster. She perhaps got carried away by her energy and good voice production that evening.

Arun Prakash mixed up nadais and patterns nicely, especially in the pallavi and anupallavi, perhaps also hinting at the pace that would have been more optimum. Amritha punctuated the kriti with all the niceties the kriti comes with. Niraval at ‘Sangithapriya’ brought back memories of D.K. Pattammal’s vintage rendition of the same at the tricky tala position, that is now nonchalantly employed by young musicians. The time proportion for niraval and swaras could have been interchanged for a lingering Bhairavi effect.

Amritha’s laya credentials are of a high order as she demonstrated in the Khanda Triputa Khanda Jathi pallavi in Begada (‘Dhamaruka’) majestically set by her guru, R.K. Shriram Kumar. Raga alapana and tanam were in teasing proportions as the pallavi demanded more time, especially with trikalam, which Amritha and Vijay capably authored. There was a sweeping ragamalika swara segment that traversed from Begada to Atana and Vasantha to Behag and circled back in the reverse order, in one flow. That electric moment climaxed the concert well. Two tukkadas at the end was a good ratio for concerts of this duration. Vijay’s violin playing was alert, pleasing and precise, without showmanship. Arun Prakash’s clever mixing of pauses and penalty kicks complemented vitally to a generally vibrant concert. Ghatam Guruprasad enjoyed the steady tempo and teamed up well with Arun Prakash. On reflection, Amirtha may find that she probably activated the accelerator too early in the concert and that some moments could have been more patiently articulated.

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