Vasudha Ravi’s delineation of Manirangu and Sowmya’s Bilahari essay were appealing. Sanjay Subrahmaniam’s raga essays were rich in manodharma.

The vocal concert by Vasudha Ravi was a neat presentation. After a brisk Kadhanakuthuhala raga Varnam ‘Charanagathavatsale,’ an Abhogi kriti ‘Sri Mahaganapathe’ with lively swaras for the pallavi set the mood. A brief sloka in Sama, which actually sounded as if taken from the Madhyamakala passage of a Dikshitar kriti, was followed by Dikshitar’s ‘Tripurasundari’ in the same raga. Ragam Manirangu was well delineated by Vasudha. This was followed by ‘Neevu Sari Evaro’ with swaras for the pallavi. A pacy ‘Vararagalaya’ in Chenchukhambodi came next before she launched the main item. Vasudha handled the Ramaamanohari alapana with élan.

Kalyani Shankar on the violin could be a little controlled particularly on the upper ranges. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Mathangi’ was rendered with niraval at ‘Ramaamanohari Rakendusekari.’ The manipulation of Rupaka tala just before the arudi was interesting. Manikandan offered a decent thani. The concert concluded with ‘Mrigayatharadha Madhavam’ and Kuntalavarali tillana.

Valiantly overcoming a ‘December’ throat Sowmya presented a high quality wholesome concert accompanied by Embar Kannan on the violin, Neyveli Narayanan on the mridangam and K.V. Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira. After starting with the Nattakurinji varnam came the Kalyanavasantha raga kriti ‘Nadaloludai,’ with lightly rendered swaras for ‘Brahmanandamandave.’ The Bilahari raga essay, by both Sowmya and Kannan, was extremely appealing, which was preceded by ‘Kamakshi Varalakshmi’ by Dikshitar. But the niraval at ‘Kamakale Vimale Karakamale’ could have been shorter. At the close of every item Narayanan played a brief conclusion which lent much ‘sowkhyam’ just by the tone of his mridangam.

Sowmya’s alapanas of Yadukulakhambodi and Kharaharapriya, the main, were examples for how to make an elaboration interesting and attractive without swerving from the classical format. Structuring the essays step by step without hurry and without sacrificing the core values Sowmya extracted the essence of the ragas beautifully. One should not forget the ‘azhutham’ in her singing either. The song in Yadukulakhambodi was ‘Innamum Orutharam Paarkavenum’ by Gopalakrishna Bharati rendered without hurry. While there appeared ‘Anandamayamanave’ in Jothiswarupini before this song, what followed were a racy ‘Sripathe’ in Nagaswaravali along with equally faster kalpanaswaras for the pallavi and a soulful ‘Sri Guruna Palithosmi’ in Padi. The earlier part of Kharaharapriya was in a slow tempo while the latter had long prayogams. The tanam too was exhaustive and explorative. The Pallavi ‘Malmaruganai Muruganai Pani Manamae Kanamae Dinamae’ was set to Tisra Jati Ata Tala and came with Anulomam, besides the swarakalpana in ragamalika comprising Hamsanandi, Mohanam and Surutti. A fairly short thani by the percussionists put the final seal of quality to the concert. The concluding items were ‘Va Velava’ in Sivaranjani, ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro’ and ‘Rama Nama Bhajarae’ in Madhyamavati.

One might use all kinds of superlatives to describe the concert of Sanjay Subrahmanian, but suffices it to say it was one of the most memorable one in recent times by any one. If the audience was willing to stay even beyond 9.45 p.m., it only shows how he had mesmerised them with the sheer brilliance. The whole recital, lasting over three hours was so vibrant, never sagging for a moment. Fortunately his voice too was good. Beginning with the Ritigowla Ata tala varnam ‘Vanajaksha,’ he moved on to ‘Samageethapriyan’ in Gowla with swaras for the pallavi.

What an essay of Yadukulakhambodi? The nuances of the raga flowed freely and smoothly. In fact in the essay of every raga his manodharma was in full flow. Any main artist would be lucky to have Varadarajan accompanying on the violin. His playing is so aesthetically appealing. He was able to repeat every sangati/prayogam of Sanjay. Whether it was in the raga alapana or the swaraprastara, be it a profound interpretation or a light-hearted one, Varadarajan won the audience’s appreciation every time. The song chosen was ‘Nee Dayache’ of Tyagaraja. Next came an essay of Saraswati raga preceding the song ‘Saraswati Namosthuthe.’

Tyagaraja kriti ‘Nadadinamata’ was introduced by an alapana of Janaranjani moving sensuously through a maze of prayogams. The niraval and swaras taken up for ‘Thalaku Vachina Paga’ were no less interesting. ‘Maayamma’ in Ahiri expressed the emotional content of the lyrics well. The once popular song ‘Kanmaniye Solladi’ made an effective break before the main item, the RTP in Kharaharapriya.

Sanjay was in his element in the in-depth exploration of the raga in the alapana as well as the tanam, ideas coming out spontaneously, while Varadarajan met the challenge phrase for phrase. The pallavi set to four 4-kalai Chatusrajati Triputa was comprehensive with all the embellishments.

Palladam Ravi on the mridangam and Alathur Raja Ganesh on the ganjira enjoyed the music as well as their role in enhancing the concert and provided a scintillating thani which was in turn enjoyed by the vocalist, the violinist and the audience. After a ragamalika sloka, there were a few krits on public demand that were rendered as listeners’ choice items as a conclusion, though requests kept coming.