Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna's concert review by Shreyas Ashok

Sri Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna’s concert on April 2nd was a treat to listen to. He began the concert with an enjoyable Vanajakshi, the Kalyani Ata thala varnam. Following this piece, he presented a sprightly Deva Deva Kalayamithe in Mayamalavagowlai. This classic piece was presented with neraval and swaram at ‘Jatharupa nibachela.’ Particularly enjoyable was the fast-paced and rhythmic koraippu during the song. Balamuralikrishna kept up the fast-paced concert with ‘Anupama Gunambudhi’ in Atana ragam. He sang many beautiful sangathis in the first line of the song, and presented a few well-chosen swarams as well. Next was a short outline in Hindolam, followed by the song ‘Ma ramanan’. Finally, for the main ragam of the day, Balamuralikrishna sang a very elaborate Begada. The alapana was intricate and detailed, and was a nice change of pace from the brisk songs presented before. Sri HN Bhaskar replied with an equally beautiful ragam. The main song of the day was ‘Nadopasana’, a Thyagaraja krithi set to Adhi talam. Balamuralikrishna did extensive neraval and swaram for the line ‘Tandri laya swara’. The second-speed neraval especially brought out the essence of the ragam. After the main song, Balamuralikrishna sang a pleasurable viruttham followed by Muralidhara Gopala, and concluded the concert with Sapasya Kausalya in Jonpuri.

The accompanists for this concert were top-notch. Sri. HN Bhaskar’s playing was incredible and he always kept up with Sri Balamuralikrishna in neraval and swaram. He was especially good during the Mayamalavagowlai koraippu and during his Begada alapana. His adept accompaniment made this concert a great one. And of course, the percussion support was quite impressive as well. Sri Thanjavur Murugabhoopathi on mridangam and Shree Sundar Kumar on Kanjira maintained the fast pace of the concert throughout the first half, and went on to play an exciting thaniavardhanam for the main piece. Of special note was the koraippu during the thaniavardhanam—Sri Murugabhoopathi played the whole koraippu using only the thopi/bass side of the mridangam—not something you hear at every kutcheri.

Overall, Sri Balamuralikrishna and team presented an amazing kutcheri, and I look forward to hearing these artists again.