CHORDS AND NOTES
Magnasound, Rs. 50)
SYMPHONY OF Culture, a Banglore-based organisation, presents Sangam, a saxophone-clarinet jugalbandi featuring Kadri Gopalnath and Narasimhalu Wadavati. The album is a live recording of a concert in Shantiniketan. Both these artistes hail from Karnataka and are trendsetters. They have given the wind instruments of their choice a place in the world of classical music. Kadri began training in nagaswara from an early age, but destiny had something else in store for him. The story goes that he was thrilled by the vibrant tone of the saxophone played by the Mysore Palace Bandset and decided to master it. It took 20 years for Kadri to conquer the complex wind instrument.
Wadavati too is a master of the rare instrument, clarinet, and his genius has been hailed by doyens, including the clarinet maestro in the Carnatic tradition, A.K.C. Natarajan.
In this recording, the duo take Hamsadhwani (referred by the same name in both Carnatic and Hindustani systems) as the main raga. Not being a melakarta, Hamsadhwani can sound very monotonous. However, the prowess and skill in conveying the nuances of their respective forms and instruments makes listening to Hamsadhwani a rare experience in this tape. A crisp alaap, a detailed presentation of the kriti "Vatapi Ganapathim", wellmeasured phrases, innovative swaraprasthara, and a dynamic neraval makes it delightful. Though the saxophone is a brass instrument and lacks the mellifluous timbre of the traditional nagaswara, Kadri produces a rich variety of musical cadences. The neat presentation reveals commendable control and skill in a technique that is suited to both Carnatic and Hindustani music overcoming even hurdles intrinsic to the instruments.
The long drawn out tonal effect, the phrasings that ebb and flow, encompassing four-and-a-half octaves, and their control over the sub-bass registers keeps the listener swaying.However, the rendering does become harsh when they double the pace of the swaraprastara. This gimmick, adapted by most musicians, no doubt reveals their excellent control over the instrument, but it also quickly slips into noise. The muktayas are well-thought out and are a treat. The dhun in Revathi (Bairagi Bhairav in Hindustani music) is good on the ears.
(Lahari, Rs. 30)
ORGANISATIONS PROMOTING and teaching Kannada Bhavageethe are recent phenomena. It is a sign of improved market for the form. It is, in one sense, a heartening development - that sugama sangeetha has grown large enough to be an industry. But it is also a little disconcerting, because, in an anxiety for popularity, not only are tunes being made on assembly line, but the essential flavour of the form itself is often lost. Today, most sugama sangeetha tunes have heavy overtones of film music, folk music, Western forms, and so on.
Uyyaale is not an absolute exception to this trend, but strives to be different. Some tunes in the semi-classical mode and extensive use of harmonium in the background score (maybe harmonium on synthesiser) are what make it different from a run-of-the-mill tape. Unlike the present Kannada film industry, which is the hegemony of a single composer, the world of sugama sangeeta is home to an entire brigade of composers, which translates to so many varied expressions. The music composer of Uyyaale, Bali the man behind Ramya Cultural Academi), is basically a percussionist who has taken to composing now.
There are some extraordinary harmonium flourishes (they almost sound like the accordian) in "Aliyalarada Nenahu" and "Marulagenu Naa". Pallavi's rendition of "Aliyalarada Nenahu" is wistful, but the last charana, unfortunately, drastically changes the mood of the song. This song in Shivaranjani reminds you of "Savinenapugalu Beku" in the Kannada film Aparachita. The flute-harmonium syncopation in "Marulagenu Naa" is sophisticated. It has been composed to an unusual scale, a scale that is commonly used in Marathi bhavageeth. "Barutihane Node" in Hindola is a neat presentation by Archana Udupa. The semi-classical approach to this song brings to mind the Antahpura Geethegalu of DVG.
S.R. Raghavendra Rao has a very original voice and sings "Beleyalu Shubha Bekayya" with gusto. The song has a folksy tune and background score, though there is nothing folksy about its lyrics. "Yeshtu Hanategalinda", rendered by S. Sunita, has a lovely opening background score with a fine take off. But the charanas pale in contrast to the pallavi. The Keervani melody in "Hottu Mulugitu" is enticing. A parting note: One wishes our music made a more sparing use of electronic sounds.
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