Sikkil Gurucharan’s grand opening concert at Tyaga Brahma Gana Sabha shone with a combination of excellent programme and other good concert principles. He sustained a gripping tempo in the first half, maintained good raga-sahitya-swara proportion and did not hesitate to deep-dive to search for the exciting reefs of Purvikalyani ragam, which was the main raga.

The Sri raga varnam with pallavi and anupallavi in madhyamakalam, ‘Nee vada ne gana’ (Saranga) and ‘Sangita Sastragnanamu’ (Mukhari, Tyagaraja) were nicely packed up to deliver the engaging tempo. While the Mukhari raga alapana was a bit repetitive, the inherent beauty of brisk one-avarthana swarams in higher speed was imaginatively employed, with suitable laya variations.

Gurucharan’s project Purvikalyani was aplomb. He exploited the natural karvais of the scale admirably, dwelling pleasingly at even the lower octaves where he displays a lot of clarity. There were sufficient hints in the manner of raga elaboration for the predictable ‘Meenakshi Memudam’ but the surprise was again a brisker kalapramana that underlines his style. Niraval at ‘maragatha chaye siva chaye’ was a continuum to the raga alapana and the first speed manodharma was impressive.

Varadarajan was more subdued in this concert and perhaps chose to give Gurucharan the limelight. Mannargudi Easwaran had a few lessons for budding mridangam vidwans, with his soft and pleasant accompaniment, often inconspicuously adding cherries to the main dessert.

B.S. Purushottaman and Mannargudi Easwaran combined to give a treat in the tani, without overindulging. Complements are due to the sound engineers as the volume levels and balance were perfect, in fact a bit sensibly muted. Gurucharan proved that he is more than willing to justify his meteoric rise in rankings with every outing.