10 January, 2014
Kanakadurga Venkatesh performed for Chennai Cultural Academy Trust, at its Auditorium, in the company of Kovai Chandran, on the violin and M S Venkatasubramaniam, on the mridangam. She was able to re-kindle the interest of the audience even as the music season was approaching its tapering off.
Now, for a moment, take a direct flight to her main item, Pahi Jaga Janani, a krithi of Swathi Tirunal in Vachaspathi. There was never a dull moment in her alapana (recital) and she traversed the many terrains the raga offers with commitment and conviction. While visualization of raga phrases was creative to the core, the swara exercises were carried out neatly and fully aware that the audience was at the end of its tether, w.r.t. the music season. Earlier the Begada alapana coming for Sankari Neeve, a masterpiece of Subbaraya Sastri, was presented with imaginative stretches and carried a clever mix of kalpitha and genuine manodharmic phrases.
She began with the Ghambira Naatai song of Jayachamaraja Udayar, Sri Jalandhara and quickly followed it with the eponymous Ganamurthe of Thyagaraja. The other piece she presented was Pahi Pahi Pahi Guro in Malayamarutham, a composition of Vijaya Dasar. The curtains were coming down (or the signal had come?) and she murmured her way to end her concert with Uruvai Aruvai Uladhai Iladhai. The words of Arunagirinathar fitted perfectly in the context.
Kovai Chandran accompanied purposefully and gave alapanas decently and sailed safely during the swara sessions. Venkatasubramaniam had to necessarily curtail his thani to suit this short-duration concert but proved his mettle here and when he played for the songs as well.
But one thought! Kanakadurga experienced some difficulty in projecting her voice effectively initially, which appeared to have been solved, evidently towards the end. It was sheer fulfillment to the rasikas who were limited in number (what else can you expect for an afternoon slot on a week day and one occurring slightly beyond the thick of the music season) and to her, at the Vachaspathi juncture. How I wish Goddess Saraswathi had bestowed the power in me to press the restart button at this point? She could have continued in this frame of mind for at least an hour! Everything is Goddess Kanakadurga’s will! (The second Kanakadurga alludes to the reigning deity of Vijayawada where this singer had studied and had graduated).