S. Hari Kumar Sivan holds his audiences in rapt attention in a spell-binding rendition with his 7-stringed electrified violin. Sivan performs Raag Malayamarutam, Raag Saraswati, Raag Abheri and a bhajan. He gets a resounding accompaniment by Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam and RN Prakash on the ghatam.
He begins his performance with a traditional kriti, ‘Dhanyadevudo,’ composed by Patnam Subramania Iyer in Raag Malayamarutam. He demonstrates mind-boggling possibilities in the alapana and the swarakalpanas in the composition, dipping with ease to the lower-most octave and soaring delightfully to the higher notes with commendable ease and clarity.
The second piece, a Saint Thyagaraja Kriti, ‘Anuragamu Leni Manasuna’ in Raag Saraswati, is delivered in his distinctive style that embraces both tradition and contemporary. Sivan’s penchant for improvisations with glimpses of harmonics flowing simultaneously is a deviation from the usual but comes with vibrance and freshness all the same.
His third piece, the ragam tanam pallavi, is in Raag Abheri. He announces at the beginning of this piece that he would walk off the trodden path during the tanam. Outlining the true and exquisite colours of Abheri, he follows it up with a virtuosic tanam. Passionate bowing and projection of the notes in spiraling flows in ascending and descending movements with the addition of harmonics makes this section a flashy but enjoyable feat. The pallavi is rendered meticulously with steady progression of the choicest phrases.
Venkatesh and Prakash follow with an elegant and extravagant taniavarthanam bringing this piece to a glorious conclusion.
He ends his recital with a passionate rendition of Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram – a bhajan that was put to tune by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar (1872-1931) and sung by Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948) and his followers during the fight for freedom against colonial rule in India. Taking full-advantage of the nuances that his electrified violin can produce, Sivan gives a memorable performance of this bhajan adding contemporary sounds and grooves to it.
Hari Kumar Sivan (7 string violin)
Neyveli Venkatesh (mridangam)
RN Prakash (ghatam)
Raag Malayamarutam, kriti composed by Patnam Subramania Iyer (1845-1902) in Adi talam
Raag Saraswati, kriti composed by Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847) in Rupak talam
Raag Abheri, Ragam Tanam Pallavi with contemporarily conceived nuances in the improvisations
Bhajan, 'Raghava Raja Ram' composed by Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar (1872-1931)