Review by Parvathy Hadley – Smt Amrutha Murali Concert

The concert on May 20th featured three young artists, Smt. Amrutha Murali vocal, Dr. Hemalatha on violin and Sri J. Vaidyanathan on mridangam. Right off the bat it was evident that Smt. Amrutha had excellent Sruthi Suddham – just listening to her singing a Sa was a soothing experience. Secondly, the violin had a sweet tonal quality, and in Dr.Hemalatha’s expert hands, it provided the right balance to the vocalist. With nice support from the mridangist, we had a winning combination. The comfortable chairs of the Monon Center, and large windows with light streaming in through the woods provided a perfect atmosphere for great listening.

The concert started with Pattanam Subramania Iyer’s well-known 9 raga varnam Valachi vacchi yunna. Then followed a Tyagaraja composition in Pantuvarali, Narada muni vedalina. Smt. Amrutha made the concert very interesting by rendering less-known compositions of famous composers. She dwelt on the meaning of the song with moving elaboration on the lines Narayana namamulanu Parayanamoralimchuchu.

The next was an infrequently heard Dikshitar composition in raga Kannada, Sri Matrubhootam followed by Ekkalathilum in Nattakurinji by Ramaswamy Sivan. Then Triloka mata nanu brovu in Paraj by Syama Sastri.

The major raga of the concert was Bhairavi, Lalithe Sri Pravriddhe, followed by mridangam solo.

The latter part of the concert started with the Annamacharya kriti Entha mathramuna in Brindavana saranga and Mayamalava Goula. Then she went on to the slokam Kasturi tilakam in Sahana and switched to Kaapi, leading up to the Kaapi kriti Vrindavanadolu Aaduvan aare by Purandara Dasa, followed by Vande Mataram in Kurinji and Punnaga Varali.

Unfortunately it was time for the Monon Center to close, so Smt. Amrutha sang the bhajan Sriramachndra kripalu in Sindhu Bhairavi, followed by Mangalam. Throughout the concert she kept the audience engaged, challenged and enthralled. The support from Dr.Hemalatha and Sri Vaidyanathan was wonderful. In recent times some artists are rushing through concerts in Drutam and Ati drutam tempos only – this trio kept a correct balance, rendering Dikshitar compositions in slow tempo, and doing fast improvisations when appropriate.

For those people who were unfortunate enough to miss this concert, it may not be too late to contact CMAI and try to buy CDs of Smt. Amrutha. Her 2010 and 2011 concert CDs contain some of the rare pieces she sang here. A minor observation – she started her 2010 concert with the Dikshitar composition Pavanatmaja, using Misra Chapu talam. I myself learned this song in Jhampa talam, which is what the composer’s grandson Subbarama Dikshitar lists in his anthology.

Smt. Amrutha is also a solo violinist. Let us hope she returns soon to grace our concert hall.

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