Saketharaman was successful in his attempt to introduce variations in tempo while rendering the kritis.
S. Saketharaman’s singing for Mudhra Fine Arts at the Infosys Auditorium, in the Ramakrishna Mission School, was truly sensational, as he came pretty close to balancing emotional expression with technical virtuosity. The hallmark of his recital was the accent on an energetic display of variations of many shades.
The proof of the pudding was the opening varnam in ragam Kedaragowla ‘Saami Dayajooda,’ which he presented in different tempos. After a sketch of ragam Mayamalavagowla, he took up Tyagaraja’s ‘Meru Samaana.’ The niraval on ‘Galamuna Sobillu Kanakabhooshanamuna,’ was followed by some breath-taking spell of improvisation for three to four minutes. There was no looking back thereafter.
His exposition of ragam Chandrajyoti was met with an equally spirited response from the violinist H.N. Bhaskar – the pre-eminent disciple of the distinguished violin maestro the late M.S. Gopalakrishnan. The composition was Tyagaraja’s ‘Sasivadana Bhakta Janaavanaa,’ set to Adi talam. The kalpanaswaram was again in equally brisk pace, exactly as the song itself was.
Saketharaman soon found himself in the rather unusual situation: of receiving a listener’s request rather early in the concert. His response was prompt and he sang the song, ‘Rakshamam Saranagatham,’ written by Bangalore Negara, also known as Meenakshi Suther, in ragam Nattai. Clearly, the choice from the audience was by no means ordinary. The latter piece was the lone departure from what was probably a predetermined effort by the artist to showcase Tyagaraja in the performance.
Saketharaman’s alapana of ragam Khambodi comprised slow, subtle and nuanced phrases in the middle and higher octaves. He eventually raised the tempo. He thus consolidated on the momentum built up over the past 90 minutes or thereabouts in the recital.
The rendition of Tyagaraja’s ‘Maa Janaki,’ the niraval and improvisations followed a predictable sequence. The lengthy percussion duet of V.V. Ramanamurthy on the mridangam and Dr. S. Karthick on the ghatam rivalled the other performers. Saketharaman’s frequent attempt to introduce variation in mood and tempo was achieved to a great extent in the Suddhasaveri kriti, ‘Thaye Tripurasundari.’
The Ragam Tanam Pallavi was presented in Desh. The lyrics for the pallavi: ‘Raghuveeram, Raghavam, Ramam Bhajami,’ were set to Handajaati triputa taalam. The raagamalika comprised Aanandabhairavi, Vaasanthi and Shyamkalyan. Bharatidasan’s song ‘Thunbam Nergayil’ also in ragam Desh was followed by the concluding tillana.