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Saturday, September 17, 2011

It's all about balance - Dr. Sreevalsan Menon


Before we bring you the very fine concert by Dr. Sreevalsan Menon, we would like to provide a closure to the ‘K Puttu Rao Memorial Concert’ which ended on Sept 4, 2011, with its five day feast of grand performances , fine speeches by dignitaries and the participation of a vibrant audience.

We are told that even Mother Nature brought an auspiciousness to the proceedings, in sending her proverbial rains to cool the environment .


Lighting an auspicious lamp for the arts!


While the newspapers did their just share of the reporting, we would like to reflect on what we heard and on what we can take away.

A definitive thing was what India’s noted Novelist Dr. S.L. Bhyrappa alluded to in his opening remarks. Dr. Bhyrappa, has been known throughout his many monumental works to be an avid thinker on matters of “ truth” , both in our empirical world and in the metaphysical world of 'Vedanta'. He is a strong believer that human independence lies in an intellectual freedom, which can only be nurtured by strong foundations, like those laid out in the teachings of India’s rich and ancient past subscribing to many a value.


" A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
and monarchs to behold the swelling scene! "
- William Shakespeare “King Henry V”


As a Blogger on Bhyrappa remarked


“ The genius of Bhyrappa’s works stems from the genius of India. Bhyrappa’s works triumph in any test because they are powerfully-creative expositions of universal values. Trying to write about SL Bhyrappa’s works is akin to trying to enclose the Sun in your fist.”


So, here is a summary of what he said:


- He asked us to pay heed to Classical Music which is on the great decline in India.

- With a razor sharp deftness he distinguished what being ‘aristocratic’ meant versus what just being ‘rich’ meant. He urged people to be ‘aristocratic’, in their nature, possessing a taste in finer things such as music and in the performing arts. “Rich ones only make money”, he concluded.

- Paying tribute to the memory of Sri K. Puttu Rao, he said “ those who continued to patronise music are the real lovers of music and Putturao is one amongst them,'


Now, for an actual newspaper report from amongst many reports ( click image ):





THE K. PUTTU RAO MEMORIAL CONCERT 2011
Jagan Mohan Palace, Mysore
(Following text is by Sachi R. )

Dr. Sreevalsan Menon has been performing as a popular Carnatic vocalist for some years now. His guru, Shri Neyyattinkara Vasudevan had come and performed at "Parvathi" a few times. Known for his traditional classicism, often listeners would mention KVN, MDR and such heavy names while listening to Shri Vasudevan. His disciple, a doctorate in Agricultural Sciences and a well-placed officer, Dr. Sreevalsan Menon has established himself as a musician of repute in many dimensions. His range of work include Malayalam poetry, Swathi Thirunal's less known romantic compositions, and even music for a movie called My Mother's Laptop.


Dr. Sreevalsan Menon performed on September 1, 2011 in the recent Puttu Rao Memorial concert in Mysore. We bring to you an excellent recording of the entire concert.

The first thing that strikes about this concert is the balance and composure in Dr. Menon's voice. It is indeed a gift to have a rich voice with a big range, no nasal twang, no tendency to loudness. And it is an additional merit to harness it with a sense of balanced aesthetics, without tricks and pyrotechnics.

The concert has another dimension of balance. The violinist is the well-known Mysore Nagaraj, with his 'MSG' or 'Hindustani' flourishes. The mridangam and ghatam accompaniments are very competently handled by Tumkur Ravi Shankar and Shashi Shankar, brothers and sons of Mridanga Vidwan Shri Tumkur Bhadrachar. The recording is well balanced and brings out the mridangam bass touches as well as the sharp tonality of the violin.

The concert again shows a rich balance in the repertoire presented.The Sri raga varnam by 'Garbhapurivasar', Vasudevacharya's Gowla and Abheri classics, Swathi Thirunal, Purandara Dasa...not a humdrum mix of the usual.

Abheri deserves a special mention. The vocalist presents a rich tapestry in his resonant voice. The violinist responds with delectable 'shehnai' touches. The song itself is wonderful. Mr. Srikantiah recalls how Shri Vasudevachar came home and presented his new composition to Shri Puttu Rao, his friend and patron. Shri Puttu Rao was moved so much, and embraced the great composer, savouring the words 'Rajakumaram Ramam', and exclaiming how appropriate the words were.

Poorvi Kalyani comes with verve and pace, the violinist getting inspiration from the vocalist to sketch its lower octave contours to much effect. And the first krithi from among the Trinity, Jnana Mosagaraada is sung with finesse. The words that Thyagaraja uses to describe Shri Rama, "Paripurna, Nishkalanka, Niravadhi Sukhadayaka" apply equally to what a well balanced music concert can do.

An elaborate Enduku Peddala in Shankarabharanam follows, rounded off with Sindhu Bhairavi dasara pada and thillana. The tani between the brothers is very sonorous.



Dr. Sreevalsan Menon ----- Vocal
Mysore Nagaraj ------ Violin
Ravishankar --------- Mridangam
Shashishankar ------ Ghatam

Song List

01. Sami Ninne -Sri Raaga Varnam – Garbhapurivasar Karur Devudu Iyer *** 02. Pranamamyaham – Gowla – Vasudevachar*** 03. Sakalagrahabala – Atana – Purandara Dasa*** 04.Paramapurusha – Vasantha – Swathi Thirunal*** 05. Bhajare re Manasa – Abheri – Vasudevachar*** 06.Jnanamosaga rada – Purvi Kalyani-Thyagaraja*** 07.Enduku Peddala – Shankarabharanam- Thyagaraja*** 08. Venkatachalanilayam – Sindhu Bhairavi – Purandara Dasa*** 09. Thillana – Khamach – Patnam Subramanya Iyer*** 10. Mangalam***