Song of Surrender

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Kollam G.S. Balamurali

Reviving an endangered species

By R. Narayanan


"Who is afraid of keezhkalam?" Kollam G.S. Balamurali appeared to be asking right through his mesmerising concert. 

Come to think of it, it would be fair to say that this rarely-seen-in-Chennai artist from Kollam seeks out keezhkalam or slow speed, and positively revels in it! And, he relished it in every facet of manodharma singing, be it the kuraippu in the Varali sub-main, the raga elaboration of Gamakakriya for his main suite, or a major part of the kriti itself for Entamuddo enta sogaso in Bindumalini. Finally, in niraval, the ultimate churning of manodharma, too, Balamurali began the brief vinyasams in keezhkalam. This is what gave the concert a mesmerising quality in the end.

Balamurali's Gamakakriya threatened to put me into a trance. For full five minutes, he explored the ati-mandra and mandra sthayis, developed the full contours of the raga in madhyama and melkalams for the next ten, then there was an entrancing descent back to the mandra sthayi in caressing phrases for the final five minutes, at all stages displaying smooth comfort in the moorchanas. I guess you would pardon me for going into a trance!

Meenakshi memudam dehi followed. Even Dikshitar 's assertive entreaty in the first line was clothed in soft contours by Balamurali and Goddess Meenakshi would have melted. Niraval at the customary Madhurapurinilaye was brief, and  followed by swarakalpana that was elaborate but soaked in melody.


The sub-main in Varali was equal to the main overall. The raga essay was gorgeous, Mamava Meenakshi rajamatangi was strongly rendered, and, with the niraval at Syame Sankari digvijaya pratapini sumptuous (even to an addict like me), a leisurely kuraippu revelling in keezhkalam and a taut melkalam, the sub-main had everything going for it.

In between, Tyagaraja's Entamuddo enta sogaso was enchanting at Balamurali's unhurried pace; the enta sogaso suited his music all the way. Next, Teliyaleru Rama bhakti margamunu in Dhenuka added the spice of variety. Balamurali closed with Tarangambadi's Arabhimanam vaittadarippar ennai Anandabhairavi and a tillana.

Shraddha Ravindran gave superb support with her resonant violin right through the concert. Her Varali was at once strong and honeyed. Shraddha also played beautifully for the kritis with quicksilver responses during all instances of swarakalpana. 

Guru Raghavendra helped to lift the concert with his wonted percussion support with pregnant pauses wherever warranted. His tani was long and varied with the bandwidth provided by Adi tala, 2-kalai.

Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha deserves the rasikas' thanks for providing this rare exposure to Balamurali to the Chennai audience. Surely, he deserves to be heard more often in the Carnatic music capital of the world.

1 comment:

  1. You are 200% correct. I made few comments in the webcast. His song selection and presentation was amazing. Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha gave the second concert after few years. Shreddha & Guru Raghavendra enhanced the concert with their good support. I feel he needs more exposure.
    Regards,
    TVG.

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