Mambalam Sisters and Gayathri Girish had something special in their repertoire.
Mambalam Sisters, Vijayalakshmi and Chitra, had diligently done their homework for their special ‘Nalu Kalai Pallavi' in Khambodi.
It was credited to their sister Dr. R. Hemalatha who had set the Dikshitar's monumental kriti's pallavi ‘Sri Subrahamanyaya Namasthe' in khanda jati triputa chatusra nadai. The raga alapana was shared by the siblings with Vijayalakshmi managing the middle and lower segments and Chitra focussing on the tara sthayi sancharas. The pallavi was given the mandatory embellishments with a ragamalika swara component of gana ragas such as Nattai, Gowlai, Arabhi, Varali and Sri.
The team worked on it with considerable care and acquitted itself with the contribution of the supporting artists, Shertalai R. Sivakumar on the violin, Tumkur B. Ravishankar on the mridangam and N. Narasimhan on the ghatam.
‘Inta Chala,' the Begada varnam, was the opening number which was followed by a sedate composition such as ‘Sada Saleswaram' (Bhoopalam, Dikshitar), ‘Meenalochana' (Dhanyasi, Syama Sastri) and ‘Sarasa Dala' (Saramathi, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar).
Chitra sauntered through the Dhanyasi and Khambodi treatises showing her commitment in giving her best shot. It must be mentioned here that Chitra had to do a tight rope walk while singing Dhanyasi as well as Khambodi especially in the upper registers, because of the perceptible limitations of her vocal reach. This can surely be resolved with systematic voice training and practice.
Vijayalakshmi offered a vibrant ‘Evaramaduguthura,' by Tyagaraja, a lesser heard but beautiful kriti in Kalyani. The niraval on ‘Paavana Magunee' and the swara sallies by the sisters here and for other kritis, in general, moved on a controlled track.
Gayathri Girish's Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi in Kalyani (‘Sangeetha Laya Gnanamu Sakala Sowbhagyamu') was indeed lively. The raga alapana, tanam and the pallavi with swaras (of course with a long tag of ragamalika!) were done with an eye on time management. There were no overshoots or undercuts; precise in all respects.
Gayathri prefers to include something special for her Academy concerts and this year, it was the Chaturdasa Ragamalika ‘Sri Viswanatham' of Muthuswami Dikshitar.
Her Saveri essay could have been a little stronger with inclusion of powerful kaarvais. Papanasam Sivan's ‘Kamakshi Gowri' with faithful niraval at ‘Yeno Unakku En Meethu Paaramukham' infused some piety. ‘Saranam Vijayasaraswathi,' a vivacious composition of Muthiah Bhagavathar, in raga Vijaya Saraswathi, and ‘Maakelara Vicharamu' in Ravichandrika of Tyagaraja came as fillers.
Violinist V. Sanjeev, whose musical partnership with artists is always noteworthy, contributed a soulful Saveri and a charming Kalyani.
Bangalore M.T. Rajakesari and B.N. Chandramouli on the mridangam and the ganjira respectively, offered sturdy support with two forceful tani avartanams.