A look at two outstanding duets at Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha's Thyagaraja Festival.

It rained Carnatic music in the Capital recently. Sree Shanmukhananda Sangeetha Sabha organised its annual Thyagaraja Music Festival this past week spread over for five days. In all, seven full-fledged concerts were organised. Notably, two pairs of vocalists, namely Ranjani and Gayathri as well as Malladi Sreeram Prasad and Malladi Ravikumar (popularly known as the Malladi Brothers) stole the show. ‘par excellent' Structuring of their concerts, strict adherence to traditional singing, synchronised delivery of the composed portionskalpitha, mastery in the improvised parts of the vidwatsmanodharmamusic, understanding support of the accompanying artistes, and above all display of team spirit by all the performers on stage transformed these concerts into delightful experiences.

While the sisters Ranjani and Gayathri began their recital with an Adi tala varnam of Patnam Subramania Iyer in raga Todi, the Malladi Brothers began theirs with an Ata tala varnam of Veenai Kuppaiyer in raga Reeti Gowla. Both the duos displayed considerable depth right in the opening piece. It is often said that what is begun well ends well. From then on, they presented song after song enthralling and sustaining the interests of the rasikas till the last.

manodharma vidwatsAs for improvisatory talents, while the sisters suffixed swaraprastaras that were crisp and rich in creativity for the Swati Tirunal composition “Paramananda natana” in raga Kedaram, the Malladi brothers suffixed kalpana swaras for Tyagaraja's “Ninne bhajana” in raga Nattai. While the sisters took up Tyagaraja's composition “Ninne nera namminanura” in Pantuvarali for a detailed presentation, the brothers took up Muttuswami Dikshitar's “Ardanareeswaram aaradhayami sathatham” in raga Kumudakriya.

While it was the elder sibling Ranjani who delineated Pantuvarali excellently and brought to the fore the complete essence of this raga, the younger sibling Ravikumar brought out the features of raga Kumadakriya in his outstanding delineation. The compositions were handled well.

Both the duos took up Tyagaraja compositions for the central item of their recitals. While the sisters chose “Koluvaiyunnade” in raga Bhairavi, the brothers chose “Sri Raghuvara” in raga Khamboji. This time it was the younger sibling Gayathri who presented a fine alap of raga Bhairavi. Both the brothers delineated Kamboji in turns as they proceeded. These compositions as well the detailed neraval and swaraprastaras were handled well by the artistes.

While the sisters included in their post-tani avartanam session emotion-laden items like Meera bhajan and abhang, the Malladi Brothers included devotional compositions of Annamacharya, Badrachala Ramadas and Purandaradasa. Short virutams (verses sung free of the bounds of tala and not limited to one particular raga) in both the sessions added sparkle.

R.K. Sreeramkumar on the violin, K.V. Prasad on the mridangam and B.S. Purushotham on the kanjira provided understanding and excellent support to Ranjani and Gayathri. For the Malladi Brothers, B. Raghavendra Rao on the violin, Patri Sathish Kumar on the mridangam and R. Raman on the morsing provided spirited support throughout. The percussionists in both the cases played riveting tani avartanams in Adi tala.

These two duets will linger long in the memory.

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