ENDURING MUSIC

Another concert of enduring substance was provided in the Music Club’s festival by D.K. Pattammal who also proved that restraint and dignity are indispensable to preserve classical quality. Despite her age, the solidity of her voice and its ear filling tonality made her sedate and sober music register in the manner respectable art should in this recital well supported by Lalitha Sivakumar (second voice), T. Rukmini (Violin) and Thanjavur Ramadoss (Mridangam).

There was an abiding sense of kalapramana in Pattammal’s singing of raga, song and swaras and from this composure sprang a natural bhava which heightened the quality of her music. “Enthanusu” (Yadukulakhambhoji) and “Idhi Samayamura” (Chhayanata) impressed with the sincerity of Pattammal’s singing. Her raga essay of karaharapriya (Rama Mathura) was actually a form finding process and fine form was later struck in Pantuvarali (Visalakshi) in which Pattammal’s karvai-based phrasings came through with a fullness of appeal.

In her rendering of Sivan’s “Sivakamasundari” (Mukhari), Pattammal captured the right interpretative impulse and made it immensely satisfying emotionally. This capacity to move was again in evidence in her Chakravakam in the ragamalika virutham in this recital in which Todi and “Sri Subramanyo” gave of the weighty pleasures of the central piece. T. Rukmini’s violin collaboration was a sweet-blend of melodic fluency and smooth vidwat. Mridangist Ramadoss gave a show which was as impressive for his competence as for his tone but he must avoid the bursts of loudness which he occasionally indulged in.

A TRIUMPH OF RESTRAINT

A FULL house listened to Srimathi D.K. Pattammal last Sunday in the Vivekananda Hall. Her music is full of a disciplined fervour and it was a pleasure to listen to it again after about a couple of years. Her rendering of Srirangapura won her well-earned applause. In Telugu, Sanskrit and Tamil, her enunciation is perfect and, that day, a Tamil song in Sankarabharana, describing the entry of Sita, kept the audience absorbed. Probably, we should not expect lyric fervour in her music: she is careful about avoiding excess in it. I remember saying told years ago that a lyric has little time to bother about the beauty of individual words for what he is interested is in is the passionate outpouring of his heart.

Pattammal’s music is a product of Brahminical discipline: even the emotion of bhakti is kept within bounds by rules and regulations. There is no sense of rebellion against them and that is why you can always be sure that this fine artiste’s performances will never fall below a certain high standard. The art of the ancient Hindus tried rigorously to eschew unchartered freedom and the stress of chance desires. There is a school which holds that this is a kind of subservience to artistic tyranny. It says that was the reason why Hindu sculptors, architects and others, left India in the early centuries of the Christian era, carrying their brilliance with them to other Asian countries which benefited immensely. Others, however, dispute this: and point out the wonderful variety of Hindu art in which traditional requirements are fully observed, without in any way taking away from the beauty of the final product of the artist’s individuality. There is the word kachchittam, which cannot be translated in all its full significance into English. There is a traditional preference among South Indian audiences for this factor in all music performances. There must be so much of emotion, that much of lyricism, a sufficient degree of showing off of a technical excellence which is a result only of long practice, there must be ingredients of bhakti and more earthy love, the tempo of the performance must vary from the slow grandeur of a Dikshitar kriti to the lilt of a tillana and so on. A performance by Srimathi Pattammal meets these requirements. That day her pallavi was brief (it was nearing nine), almost to the point of being aphoristic. The song in Varali was rendered at some length and Tyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam in Ananda Bhairavi engendered many exclamations of approval.

Rare feast of music

Carnatic Music Recital By Srimathy D.K. Pattammal at the Saraswathy Hall.

I have often heard it said that the Indian singer is a poet, and the poet a singer. However, it was only Sunday’s recital of Carnatic music by Srimathy D.K. Pattammal rendered with the inimitable perfection of a virtuoso that convinced me of the truth of this statement. Seeing rarely or to be more precise, hearing rarely a singer who is essentially a musician. It was undoubtedly a treat to the Ceylonese audience to have been able to hear so renowned a singer rendering some notable pieces.

The audience seemed quite aware of their good fortune and so it was a model audience that listened in rapt silence to Pattammal at the Saraswathi Hall on Sunday. However a word of warning to the organisers who should note that late stragglers with their shuffling gait and flipping flappers should not be allowed to walk in at all times of the performance causing considerable disturbance to the singer and listener.

Pattammal’s repertoire consisted of some ten distinctive ragas, national and devotional songs. Every one of these was rendered in a voice rich with it intrinsic beauty and sung with the intelligence and skill so characteristic of the perfect artiste. Indeed the mantle of honour – “Ganasaraswathy” – could not adorn another shoulder more fittingly.

Pattammal the singer was one rare instance of a singer being essentially a musician. Words were to her merely a vehicle of music. Words were brief – voicing a mood rather than telling a story and they were used to support the music, with little regard to their logic. The resulting mellifluity was both elevating and entertaining and this was obvious by the pin drop silence which prevailed.

One outstanding feature in Pattammal’s recital was its elaborate grace. In orchestral music where many notes are heard simultaneously grace would appear and unnecessary elaboration. But in Indian music – especially in the solo – where the note and microtonal grace compose a closer unity grace fulfils an important task. Pattammal superbly achieved this effect by her grace.

Very praiseworthy indeed was her rendering of alaps in strict unfalling rhythm. The delicate nuances achieved by subtle effortless inflections conveyed a wealth of entertainment to the listener.

Most appealing in Pattammal’s recital was that her music was essentially impersonal. It reflected an emotion and experience deeper, wider and older than the emotion or wisdom of any single individual. Its sorrow were without tears, joy without exhultation and was passionate without any loss of serenity. In a word it encompassed the universe it was all human.

Trees have been said to sway and mountains to move to the strains of music. I hardly doubted this after listening to Pattammal’s recital. It was so rich in its appeal and profound in emotion that it would indeed be a pity if any lover of Carnatic music should have missed this recital. When I left the hall it was only with the regret that we could not have Srimathy Pattammal to sing to us more often. Instead of doling out to us our share of her talent on an occasional visit and making one feel like Oliver Twist – wanting to ask for more.