Inspired by the Bard

H.Ramakrishnan
The Hindu, January 08, 2015

Aparna Balaji packed her noon concert mainly with Tyagaraja’s compositions; excepting the varnam and a Tamil kriti (as the saint has neither of these to his credit!).

Aparna has a great advantage. She is the granddaughter of one of the best music teachers, O. V. Subramaniam, and daughter of OST whose brothers and sister are musicians in their own right. She has also learnt music from Neyveli Santanagopalan and Sithalakshmi, daughter of Kittamani Bhagavathar.

Aparna’s genius flowed from her adherence to pure classicism and swaragnana. She has a wide melodic potential. Her ability to structure her concert attractively came to the fore.

After a spicy and colourful elucidation of Kiravani, she rendered ‘Kaligiyuntegada’ with niraval and swaras at ‘Baguga Sri Raghuramuni.’ On the violin, the young V. Giridhari, disciple of A. Kanyakumari, presented a spirited alapana and his swaraprastharas were at once innovative and charming. He has an elegant bowing technique and his skill in following the main artist is immaculate.

The Thani offered by Karra Srinivasa Rao (mridangam), disciple of Guru Karaikudi Mani, illustrated that he has a variety of phrases and fast speed pharans, which are crystal clear. His tisra nadai had varied combinations. During every kriti and in aruthis, his quicksilver finishes were attractive.

If Aparna’s Kalyani alapana was elaborate, it also signified originality based on a sound foundation. In ‘Sundarini Divya,’ the niraval and swaras were at the usual ‘Kalilo Dinarakshaki.’ In ‘Telisirama,’ ‘Taraka Rupuni’ had several lovely sangathis. In the Atana piece, ‘Anupama Gunambudhi’ (Khanda Chapu), she rendered kalpanaswarams at pallavi.

Opening with the Kedaragowla varnam, Aparna Balaji wound up her refreshing recital with Gopalakrishna Bharathi’s Behag piece, ‘Irakkam Varamal’ (Rupakam) and another Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Vinayakuni.’ Aparna has a bright future indeed.

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