Reputed names in Carnatic music took to the stage at Palakkad for an event organised by Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad.

‘Sadhana,' a week-long, all-India conference on music education, and Palghat Mani Iyer Centenary Music Festival at Palakkad, organised by the Chembai Memorial Government Music College, Palakkad, featured chaste music concerts by celebrated musicians and instrumentalists. The fete started with a ‘mangalavadyam' by Vadassey brothers.

Violin maestro T.N. Krishnan inaugurated the festivities with an erudite and interactive recital. He was accompanied by Trichy Sankaran (mridangam) and Vaikom Gopalakrishnan (ghatam). Krishnan's unique style of subtle and sophisticated yet bold and emphatic bowing c created a melodic and tranquil mood.

He began the recital with ‘Ninnukori,' the Adi tala varnam in raga Mohana, and masterfully played it in varied speeds. His bowing of Chembai's masterpiece ‘Vathapi ganapathim' was reminiscent of the combination of the magical trio – Chembai-Chowdayya-Mani Iyer. He essayed the main item ‘Marubalkuna' in raga Sreeranjini as a tribute to Semmangudi. Tani was also a treat.

From the Lalgudi bani

Violin duo Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan and J. Vijayalakshmi, torchbearers of the Lalgudi bani, mesmerised the rasikas on the second day. The support of B. Harikumar (mridangam) and Anirudh Arthreya (ganjira) added lustre to the concert.

Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi created a scintillating musical ambience with the Lalgudi varnam ‘Kanna, Manivanna' in Huseni. The main item was ‘Natachi natachi' in Kharaharapriya, which was studded with distinct manodharma swaras. After a superb tani came a complex ragam-tanam-pallavi in Hamsanandi and Hindolam. The pallavi ‘Velava…,' set to Khandajathi Thriputa tala in Khanda nata, was decorated with ragamalika swarakalpana.

Nonagenarian R.K. Srikantan was at his scintillating best during his concert that was characterised by energy and exuberance. Vocal support was by his son and disciple, Ramakanth. Accompanists were Varadarajan (violin), T.K.Moorthy (mridangam), and Rajasekhar (morsing).

Srikantan took up Poorvikalyani for detailed elaboration of Dikshitar's ‘Meenakshi memudam.' It was adorned with a well-etched niraval and vivacious swarakalpana at ‘Meenalochani…'

Sublime Hindustani concert

On the fourth day, Narmada Gopalakrishnan, torchbearer of the Parur-M.S.G. bani, who is well-versed in both Carnatic and Hindustani genres, presented a sublime Hindustani violin concert. She was accompanied by Fazal Qureshi on the tabla. A bandish ‘Syamasundara' (Puriya, Theen taal), a Benaras style thumri ‘Dhumak dhumak' (Khamaj), and a tharana in Sindhubhairavi were spell-binding. A ‘layatharang,' a jugalbandi between Qureshi and Karthik (ghatam), was enlivening.

Parassala Ponnammal reigned on the fifth day of the fete. M.N. Moorthy (violin), Dinesh (mridangam), Aparna and Muthukrishnan (vocal) accompanied the veteran vocalist. Ponnammal's energy-packed presentation, in strict adherence to tradition, beautifully blended lakshya and lakshna. Soulful, bhava-laden ragalapana and kritis, all imbibed from her guru, Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer, mesmerised the audience.

A rare padavarnam of Swati Tirunal in Saveri was the opening number. It was followed by a melting Kamboji that led to the majestic Swati kriti, ‘Rasavilasalola,' sung in slow speed with lyrical improvisation at ‘Padayugavilasan…'

Melodic heights

Versatile veena artiste Jayanthi Kumaresh in the company of Tumkur Ravishankar (mridangam) and Shashishankar (ghatam), took the audience to melodic heights with her graceful, emotive, and expressive recital. Her exposition of Amrithavarshini and the Dikshithar kriti ‘Ananthamrithakarshini' was in the gayaki style, while lilting kalpanaswara passages showcased the instrumental style (thanthrakari). An admirable ragam-tanam-pallavi in Nattakurinchi and Shanmukhapriya was the highlight of the concert. The pallavi ‘Va, Thirumuruka…,' set to Khandhajathi triputa tala was laced with ragamalika swarakalpana.

The grand finale of the fete featured two concerts. Veena artiste Ananthapadmanabhan evoked a meditative mood during his well-synchronised veena duet with his son and disciple, Anand Kousik. They were accompanied by Nanjil Arul (mridangam). His individualistic style of fingering wherein he concentrated on pulling the strings rather than gliding, mesmerised rasikas.

Aesthetic Anandabhairavi

A melodic and aesthetic Anandabhairavi and ‘Marivere,' devoid of any gimmicks, was enchanting while a ragamalika in Carnatic and Hindustani ragas was educative.

Young talents Abhishek Raghuram (vocal), Avaneeswaram Vinu (violin), and Anand Krishnan (mridangam) also showcased their musical prowess. Abhishek has carved a niche for himself with his innovative style that carries the highest stamp of classicism and competence.

His Thodi raga encounters stood out for the brilliant array of phrasings, and a pleasing proportion of long, short, quick, and crisp phrases. ‘Thaye Yasoda,' a composition of Oothukkadu, was adorned with well-articulated improvisation at ‘Kalinil chilamu koncha…' Abhishek wound up the concert with Tyagaraja's ‘Pathikki harathy…' in Surutti.