A nagaswaram recital by Sheik Mahaboob Subhani and his wife, Kaleeshabi Mahaboob, at Thripunithura, was a class apart.

A popular instrument in the olden days, the nagaswaram is now rarely to be heard in concert form. Perhaps it is because of the lack of artistes since the instrument is quite difficult to master.

Engrossing recital

Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha opened their new season with a nagaswaram concert by eminent artistes Sheik Mahaboob Subhani and his wife, Kaleeshabi Mahaboob, at Seetharam Kalamandir Hall, Thripunithura. Subhani easily captivated the audience with the Abhogi varnam ‘Evaribodhana' by Pattnam Subrahmania Iyer. Although Kaleeshabi took time to catch up, the duo's presentation of ‘Sree Mahaganapathi' (Gowla) by Dikshitar kept the listeners engrossed.

The duo revealed their expertise in popular kritis as well as in rare ones such as the Tyagaraja kirtana ‘Eti yochanalu' in the rare raga Kiranavali, janya of 21st melakartha, Keeravani. Their rendition of ‘Thunai Purindarul' (Varamu) by Papanasam Sivan was also excellent.

Their long tutelage under maestro Sheikh Chinna Moulana helped them to go deep into the raga Sree, both in alaap and in the rendition of the ever popular ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu' by Tyagaraja. Notably, during ragaalaapana, the thavil was not played. ‘Anuraagamule' (Saraswati) in Roopaka tala and ‘Meevalla Gunadosha memi' (Kaapi) in Khanda chaappu tala, both by Tyagaraja, displayed the possibilities of the instrument – how well and deep it can be performed, and influenced.

‘Thaye Yasode' (Thodi) by Oothukkadu Venkata Subba Iyer, played in Andhra baani, opened their repertoire fully. One could hardly distinguish the better among them, especially during niraval and swara. P. M. Sankar and V. G. Murukan too excelled in accompanying on the thavil.

‘Bhajagovindam' (Ragamalika) by Sankaracharyar and ‘Bhaja bhaja maanasa' (Sindhubhairavi) by Swati Tirunal were well rendered. Although ‘Kural Onrum Illai' (Ragamalika) by C. Rajagopalachari enriched the concert, without the tillana in Dhanasree by Swati Tirunal, it would have been incomplete.

Before concluding, they did not forget to play a Jaavali in Surutti by Poochi Sreenivasa Iyengar.