Gayatri Girish’s concert presented the two axes of Carnatic music, innovation and traditional rakti performance. If Karna Ranjani (‘Vancha Thoduna,’ Muthaiah Bhagavatar) and Kuntalam (‘Sri Sugandhi

Kuntalambike,’ Dikshitar) trumped up support for the innovator in the audience, her elaborate and soulful rendition of ‘Dasarathi’ in Thodi was packed with old world goodies. The opening was sedate with ‘Saraseeruhasanapriye’ (Nattai) and ‘Naan Enna Thavam Seidheno’ (Khamas, Oothukadu Venkatakavi) but the concert picked up traction when Gayatri sang an elegant sketch of Karna Ranjani ragam conforming to its spirit.

Kuntalam, belonging to the 61st melam was an interesting choice as the kriti offered sufficient scope to paint a full canvas of this rare raga. One thought Gayatri would get carried away in the novelty binge, but her classical grounding helped her switch moods to a salient Thodi ragam. Gayatri indulged in longer sancharams above the upper shadjam with good élan.

Gayatri’s structured expansion of the niraval, particularly in the first speed, at ‘Bodinchina’ (instead of the more common, ‘Bakthileni Kavi’) was pregnant with Thodi rasa. The journey continued with the same sensitivity in well manicured swaraprastaras.

Without relegating the tail phase to mechanics, Gayatri earnestly sang a viruttam spread over Malayamarutham, Bagesri, Hamsanandi, Kapi and Sindhubhairavi coating it with raga bhavam all the way. Her own enjoyment in this phase was evident. Violinist Mysore Srikanth supported well, without pursuing self-glory. Mridangam (Skandasubramaniam) and ganjira (Papanasam Sethuraman) were on a low profile.

P. Vasanth Kumar is an experienced vainika whose style is sans flashy journeys. With Padhathi as the anchor and no modern day fireworks, Vasanth built a strong edifice for a classical veena concert. Following the Pantuvarali varnam of Mysore Vasudevachar, the popular ‘Vatapi Ganapatim’ (Hamsadhwani), embedded with niraval and swarams at ‘Pranava Swarupa’ and ‘Jaya Jaya’ (Nattai, Purandaradasa), Vasanth Kumar played ‘Aparadamula Norva’ (Rasali, Tyagaraja) finishing with interesting sarvalaghu swarams that moved the concert to a more engaging tempo. ‘Pahimam Parvati’ (Mohanam, Dikshitar, Rupakam) was one of the two pillars of the concert in the mid phase. Mohanam was artistically sketched with melodious prayogams around the gandharam.

Vasanth Kumar’s unhurried approach lent itself well to both the vitality of the instrument and the bhavam-filled composition of Dikshitar. Following niraval, swarams in Mohanam, Vasanth Kumar chose Urmika, a derivative of Simhendramadhyamam for the second elaboration. The ragam and the tanam played by Vasanth Kumar articulated this delicately balanced ragam with a lot of assurance. Pallavi Sesha Iyer’s ‘Enthani Vina’ is one of the few concert-grade kritis in this raga and Vasanth’s maturity was once again to the fore in the kriti rendition. Umayalpuram Mali (mridangam) and Ravichandran (ghatam) ensured a sombre partnership.