Many of the musicians who participated in the festival to celebrate the Jayanthi of Swati Tirunal chose to render Swati compositions only as a tribute to the royal composer. S. Ramachandra Iyer
The annual 12-day music and dance festival to celebrate the 197th Jayanthi of the royal composer Swati Tirunal provided rasikas of Thiruvananthapuram with memorable evenings of sheer delight.
The Bombay sisters C. Saroja and C. Lalitha have become part and parcel of this festival by their regular participation over the years. All the kritis sung by them were composed by Swati Tirunal except a tillana in Gambhiravani composed by their guru, T.K. Govindarao.
The Ada tala varnam in Kamboji – ‘Sarasijanabha' – set the tempo of the concert. ‘Sarojanabha dayarnava' in Chakravakam followed by the rare Pushpalathika piece ‘Bhavaye gopabalam' was rendered with fervour.
The Kunthalavarali item, the evergreen ‘Bhogindrasayinam' in Khanda Chapu tala preceded ‘Anjaneya Raghurama Dootha' in Saveri.
The popular ‘Karunakara Madhava' in Begada was briskly presented and followed by a ragam, tanam and pallavi in Poorvikalyani. Mysore Srikant (violin) was scintillating. K.R. Ganesh (mridangam) and H. Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam) excelled in the taniavarthanam . ‘Alarshara Parithapam' in Suruti, a padam in Misra Chapu tala, was the precursor to the mangalam ‘Bhujagashayino' in Yadukulakamboji.
Sreevalsan J. Menon, a disciple of the late Neyyatinkara Vasudevan, began his performance with ‘Jayajayapadmanabha' in Sarasangi (Sourasena). He also stuck to singing Swati Tirunal compositions. A famous piece in Reetigowla, ‘Paripalayamam,' struck the right chord with the listeners. ‘Palayamamayibho,' a song in praise of Lord Shiva in Kamas, revived memories of GNB, whose rendering of the Kamas composition ‘Brocheva' has remained evergreen.
‘Anjaneyaraghurama,' a hymn in praise of Hanuman, and ‘Paramapurasha' in Vasantha were presented delightfully. The ragam, tanam and pallavi in Kapi was a treat. Edappally Ajith Kumar gave admirable support on the violin.
Percussionists were Neyveli Narayanan (mridangam), H. Sivaramakrishnan (ghatam) and Kottayam Murali (morsing). The concert came to a close with ‘Bhagyada' in Madhyamavathi composed by Purandaradasa.
Ayamkudi Mani, a disciple of Vechoor Hariharasubramania Iyer, began his kutcheri with the Mayamalavagowla varnam ‘Sarasijanabha.' He was accompanied by N.C. Madhav (violin), Neyveli Narayanan (mridangam), Alleppey Gopinatha Prabhu (ghatam) and Kottayam Murali (morsing). The varnam was followed by ‘Devadevakalayami' in the same raga. Mohanakalyani is a bewitching raga and ‘Sevesrikantham' was a short and sweet rendering.
‘Bhavathi vishwaso' in Mukhari and ‘Kripa kataksham' in Mohanam were sung with gusto.
Charukeshi was essayed elaborately with ragalapana and tanam. The pallavi, ‘Sriswati bhoopalam' was followed by taniavarthanam by the percussionists. The thukadas, ‘Alarshala' – a padam in Suruti, ‘Madhavalokanam' (Jonpuri) and a tillana (Dhanasri) brought the performance to a close.
The Nagaswaram recital by Ochira Sivadasan and Prasanna Sivadasan added variety to the music festival. The couple was accompanied by the duo of Nanjil Manikandan and Madurai C. Kannan on the thavil. ‘Mamavasadavarade' in Nattakurinji, favourite of Nagaswara vidwans, was the opening item.
The lone Dikshitar composition of the concert ‘Akhilandeswari' in Dwijavanti was warmly applauded. ‘Sevesrikantam' in Mohanakalyani, ‘Chaliyekunjan' in Brindavanasarange and ‘Venkatachala Nilayam' (Purandaradasa) in Sindhubhairavi formed the trio of light classical songs. Mangalam in Madhyamavathi was played to conclude the performance.
It was then the turn of the Rudrapattanam Brothers – R.N. Taranathan and R.N. Thyagarajan, accompanied by Thrissur C. Rajendran (violin), Trivandrum V. Surendran (mridangam) and Kottayam Unnikrishnan (ghatam), to enchant the music buffs. They also adhered to the format of singing only Swati Tirunal compositions.
Setting the right tone
‘Kamajanaka' in Gowla, a ghana raga, set the tone of the concert. After singing ‘Mamavasadajanani' in Kanada, the two ‘Jayajayapadmanabha' kritis in Sarasangi and Manirangu were rendered beautifully. ‘Bhogindrashayinam” has become a favourite of Carnatic musicians and the brothers were no exception. An elaborate ragalapana of Shanmughapriya in detail was followed by the piece ‘Mamavakarunaya.'
The concluding phase of the recital was embellished by ragas Behag, Saindhavi and Yadukulakamboji, the compositions being ‘Smaradinu,' ‘Idu Sahasamulu' and ‘Bhujagashayino,' respectively. The concert by the brothers was noteworthy for the coordination between them.
Stickler to tradition
M.S. Sheela's performance was marked by her devotion to tradition and the choice of well-known compositions. Beginning with the Ada tala varnam in Kamboji ‘Sarasijanabha,' she chose ‘Sarojanabha' in Chakravakam before presenting a brief alapana of Arabhi followed by the popular piece ‘Pahiparvata' (Navaratri kriti). ‘Mamavasada' in Kanada, ‘Vande Devadevam' (Navaratna kriti) in Begada and the brisk ‘Paramapurusham' in Lalithapanchamam were melodiously essayed.
Before embarking on the main piece of the evening, ‘Pankajalochana' in Kalyani, she sang the Mukhari keerthana ‘Pahi sada.' The alapana, niraval and manodharma swara in Kalyani had the listeners glued to their seats. The taniavartanam by Trivandrum Sampath (violin), K. Sadgurucharan (mridangam) and P.L. Sudheer (ghatam) was a fitting finale to the main item of the evening. M.S. Sheela concluded her recital with a tillana by Purandaradasa.
The festival was organised by the Sri Swati Tirunal Sangita Sabha, which is celebrating its 68th anniversary.