We went to hear Dr L Subramaniam today. His mastery over the violin is complete; his playing has a clarity and sweetness rarely heard; and he is a talented musician as well. Then why did we all feel that we had somehow got less than what we should have?
In the first place, I do not see the need for him to promote his son just yet. Ambi is very talented, there is no doubt; but he is young, and waiting for a while might not be a bad idea. Bowing/ fingering virtuosity is not the only thing on a concert platform. I noticed the same kind of pushing when he played at the Air France direct Paris/Bangalore flight launch some months ago. Reminds me of the young executive in the office who goes to the MD’s cabin and asks, “Uncle, what is nepotism?”
Secondly, both of them seemed to be indulging in “playing-to-the-gallery” high jinks with all the percussion instruments, and acrobatics. more to impress everyone with their facility for speed; melody and a sense of serenity was left behind in the mad race for mathematical calculations. Playing thishram, khantham and mishram in Aadhi Thaalam is phenomenal…but it can get tiring after a while. How beautiful the raaga delineation was, and how quickly forgotten its peace was, in the tempo circus!
Then, for a musician of his stature, who is used to playing non-stop in at least 3 hour concerts, what was the need, when the program started late, to take a 20 minute “tea break” (I quote him) after just 45 minutes?
And when he came back, why did we have to get a kind of pocket-book edition Raagam Thaanam Pallavi? He could just have played a song. It was like reading a paperback of “Gone with the Wind”, in an abridged form.
Lastly, why did he have to mumble so softly into the mike that we couldn’t even hear the names of the accompanists? (We now know that he was accompanied on the thavil by mutter, on the mridangam by whisper, on the kanjira by lip-movement, and the muharsing by didn’tquitecatchit.
And then he had the gall to say, he wanted to play for an hour and a half and had actually played beyond that time!
To top it all, never have I seen such an ignorant audience. They persistently clapped at all the wrong times (in the middle of a “korvai” or rhythmic pattern once)..and actually spoilt the build-up several times. This buildup to a crescendo at the end of the concert, of course, was so gimmicky and “for-the-applause”, that it had several of us cringing.
I wish professional performers would not shortchange the public with these kind of gimmicks. It cheapens their talent and the music…the music becomes a drama instead.