Well composed raga subjects of Madurai Shivganesh

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Madurai N. Sivaganesh performing for Mudra during the annual Marghazi Festival 2022.
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Madurai N. Sivaganesh performing for Mudra during the annual Marghazi Festival, 2022. Photo credit: Special Arrangements

Opting for an unusual melody for his hour-long main suite, Madurai N. Sivaganesh’s treatment of Hamsavinodini proves the young man’s overall scholarship. Ragam Tanam Pallavi further demonstrated the singer’s ability to incorporate a school beyond his lineage. Shivganesh widened his general allegiance with TN Shishagopalan to accommodate M. Balmerli Krishna. The first half of the detailed alapana was particularly eclectic, adding to the quality of his 150-minute concert for Mudra.

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The Hamsavinodini raga is derived from Sankarabharanam, but it sounds like an interesting combination of two other contemporaries – Kannada and Maund. Shortly after the raga became clear, Shivganesh released fragments and slides, typical of BMK, the unique decoration of which has almost given the late Avara the status of Hamsavinodini’s custodian. The changed style of singing made violinist Tirucharai Karthik more of a listener than a follower. His solo response on the instrument was impressive. With dashes of Vasantha.

Shivnesh begins his tanam softly, emphasizing the sukhim quotient of hamsavinodini. It marked the second discovery of the raga, whose development was as steady as that during the Alappana. The pallavi, ‘Sada Ngama Siddha Vinodini’, merrily changes pace with 16-beat adi talam cycles. The singer’s journey was somewhat limited along certain high sections of Swarprastara. Nevertheless, the concluding passage was freshened up by three ragas – varali, darbar and vukolabharanam. The 12-minute Tani Avartanam was a neat collaboration between Pinnur Arvind Kaushik (Mridingam) and DV Venkata Subramaniam (Ghatam).

Swati Tirunal’s raga was the first post-Tani number in Ahiri, ‘Panimati Mukhi’, which highlighted the softness of the Ahiri raga, and was presented in such a way as to retain the basic spirit of RTP. The moods were not different from those of Humira Kalyani (‘Analam Nukainan’, Kamba Ramayanam) and the concluding Sindhubhairavi (Muthya Bhagavatara Thilana) that followed.

Earlier, Shivnesh opened his concert for Madhra with the self-composed Shruti Bhid Varnam. The Mohanam base made the Adi Tala piece a delight, though the surfing with Madhimavati, Hindulam, Siddhasaveri and Siddhadhaniyasi was too fleeting, and risked the chance of a mere off-sound. Tyagaraj’s ‘Indidi Ramudu’ was full of too many associations, which were often not cleaned up in the process. Yet the patterns of Neeraval (around ‘Tamasadi Gunrahitudo’) and Paci Sulphas capture the essence of Harikambuji with the obvious influence of TNS – the mentor of R. Kannan, the main guru of Shivganesh.

The signature of TNS came out more clearly with the subsequent rounds. Alappana was largely praised for reciting passages well which paved the way for ‘Bhajare Manasa’ (Venkataramana Bhagavatara). Swarprastar’s distraction carries a Seemangadi-ish beat – another teacher of Shivganesh is CR Vaidyanathan – who trained under PS Narayanaswamy, a frontline disciple of Srinivasa Ir.

On the contrary, Devijavanti gave the necessary calmness to Kachhari. Tamm praised Dikshatra’s ‘Chitasari Balakrishnam’, rendered with bhava-enriching intervals. The 11-minute Alappana in Subman Shanmukh Priya was emotionally charged. ‘Mariveer’ (Putnam Subramanya Iyer) had cleaner bottoms than Neeraval (‘Sanutanga Sri’). Tyagaraj’s ‘Diyajuchota’, which became a TNS hit in Ganavaridhi, was the immediate bridge to the central Hamsavinodini.

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