If this music does not transport you to an ethereal world, trust me, you have a long way to go about understanding the depth of Carnatic music. I can affirmatively say this Ganamurthey, a famous kriti composed by saint Tyagaraja, rendered by Vidwan Abhishek Raghuram is the best rendition I have ever come across. I’m pretty sure there will not be a better rendition of this kriti coming up anytime soon. To many, this statement may sound gratuitously aggrandizing, but connoisseurs will agree with what I say.
Manodharma is one of the most crucial and challenging aspects to deal with in classical music for any performing artiste. That is where you get to showcase your creativity on the spot and Vid. Abhishek Raghuram has been an insignia of spontaneity throughout this concert.
Sangathees (ornamentation of notes) that an artiste envisages to present on stage manifest only after years of toiling hard at practice sessions. It is common knowledge that only 5% to 10% of what is practised at home is attempted on stage, the reason being that the failure to get those phrases right would make one fall flat on his face. Worse, even the audience would make out that you went out of tune or beat. This could be quite an embarrassing situation.
However, I feel, Abhishek belongs to a different clan altogether. His grey matter appears to be completely wired with swara and laya patterns while he ventures into unchartered territories and yet feels at home while delivering the toughest of sangatis with utmost conviction. This is quite evident as you listen to him rendering Ganamurthi raga pulling off marvellous unconventional phrases with sheer audacity. This raga listening experience makes it quite immersive and elevates you to a higher altar where the phraseology is abstract but the feeling is sublime.
Oftentimes, concerts go haywire when they do not get the right accompanists; however, both the artistes supporting Abhishek on mridangam and violin were quite adept at their skills. Dr Patiri Sathishkumar spelt magic with his deft handling of the mridanga, which resonated in the ears even after the concert got over. He pre-empted most sangatis and employed matching nadas (beats) that sounded like a standalone performance. Listening to the mridanga could be equated to a vocal rendition of a kriti.
Vidwan HN Bhaskar hailing from MSG Bani played the fiddle beautifully. Handling the tana could have been an arduous task for HNB, given that he had to follow after Abhishek finished essaying Ganamurthi, weaving permutations and combinations of unique unheard swara patterns and employing shruti-bheda, making it an intellectual exercise not only for the co-artistes but also the listeners. However, HNB did a commendable job there. Hence, when you are playing for a maverick, you got to be a maverick yourself to shadow the genius but at the same time also be able to showcase your own virtuosity to uplift the mood & listening experience of the rasikas.
Ganamurthi is a sampurna scalar raga that lends you the liberty to experiment with its notes as you wish, but only an artiste of Abhishek’s calibre can bring out the intrinsic essence of the rAga though it is vivadi in nature.