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A Wholesome Carnatic Music Cutcheri By Sudarshan Thirumalai, Amrita Thirumalai And Tarun Bangalore

Rayadurgam Ravikanth

A wholesome Carnatic music cutcheri by Sudarshan Thirumalai, Amrita Thirumalai and Tarun Bangalore

The concert got off to an uplifting start with a beautiful rendition of the evergreen “Bantureeti kolu”. Sudarshan and Amrita Thirumalai rendered this krithi at a brisk pace bringing out the beauty of the phrases and sangathis of this popular composition. It was clear at the outset that there was wonderful rapport between the vocalists and the mridangist. The niraval and swaram by both the vocalists were outstanding as they oozed creativity as well as a sense of proportion. It was a nice idea to get straight into niraval and madhyama kala swaras as it quickly set the tone for the rich fare that was to follow.

For the main piece, Sudarshan and Amrita had picked a Papanasam Sivan krithi in the ragam Kharaharapriya. A popular ragam like Kharaharapriya provides tremendous scope and richness for exploration but it also challenges the performers to showcase their creativity in a ragam that has been sung by so many great musicians. The Thirumalai siblings were more than up to the task. Amrita started her alapana at a relaxed pace and she progressively ornamented the elaboration with the right dose of beautiful madhyamkala phrases, highlighting the traditional richness of the raga with freshness and verve. It was evident that Amrita has an innate feel for the ragam and how to present it in the right measure. Picking up in the upper register, Sudarshan proceeded to dive into a wonderfully nuanced exploration of the ragam, with each phrase infused with subtle surprises and twists that clearly brought out how well he has imbibed the substance of this ragam. The rendition of the krithi “Sri Janaki pathe” was simply outstanding. Sung at a soothing pace, the rendition was laden with bhavam and ghanam. The complete enjoyment that Sudarshan and Amrita showed in their rendering of the krithi inevitably rubbed off on the listeners as well. The rendition of the piece culminated in a beautiful exchange of swarams in multiple kalams, which highlighted the ironclad control of layam that we have come to expect from these performers.

Tarun Bangalore’s support on the mridangam through the whole concert and, in particular, in the main piece was a beautiful example of the importance of accompanists to the success of a concert. His accompaniment showed sensitivity and an understanding of each item of the concert. The mridangam blended in seamlessly and provided the accentuation and punctuation for the slower and faster pieces alike. The tani avartanam was rendered crisply and fit in perfectly with the gait and the mood of the main piece.

The post-main part of the concert featured a string of beautiful pieces. A fast-paced Karpagambike in Bilahari was followed by a melodious Maruti Varuvan in Shudh Sarang.  A brisk tillana in Yamuna Kalyani followed by a meditative Ramachandra Kripalu in Yaman capped off a beautiful concert. This very well thought out mix of up-tempo and relaxed pieces provided a highly satisfying conclusion to a thoroughly enjoyable concert.

While the concert was only an hour long, the Thirumalai siblings presented a delightfully complete and wholesome cutcheri which included all aspects of a cutcheri that a Carnatic music rasika looks forward to. It is wonderful to see the musical growth of these performers under the tutelage of their Guru Tara Anand. The choice of songs and presentation of the parts in the right measure is a forte of the Guru Tara’s Anubhava school and it was very evident in this cutcheri as well. Our thanks to Guru Tara for grooming such wonderful musicians and for continuing to treat the Boston rasikas to the highest quality of Carnatic music.

A huge thanks to KHMC for continuing to provide these high-quality cultural concerts even during the unusual and challenging times of the past year.

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