Excellent teamwork was evidenced in Bharatsundar's concert. There was power and quality in Nisha Rajagopal's Purvikalyani. D. B. Ashvin's fare was as delectable as it was solemn.
It was not just the fact that K. Bharatsundar, K.P. Nandini and Palghat A. Harinarayanan presented themselves as a handsome team of young artists that made a pleasant first impression on this listener but also fine musical group they made, evident from the first hum and instrumental output of raga Begada with ‘ga.......ri- sa- ni- dha- pa ..’ that emanated at the very start. It was one brisk, lively journey for the next 45 minutes, with never a dull moment.
After the varnam in Begada, taken at a medium pace that got faster in the charanam, the artist made a flashing sketch of Mukhari (pa...ma- ga-ri- sa- ni- dha) and proceeded to offer Tyagaraja's ‘Ksheenamai’ at the medium pace in which it is meant to be delivered, with a few repetitions of the charanam lines ‘Edi Jesina Jagannaathudu Siramunu..’, to drive in the spirit of the piece, but steered clear of a niraval, which might have been in order. Muthuswamy Dikshitar's ‘Ramanatham Bhajeham’ in Pantuvarali, Adi talam was another example of dealing with a profound item with matching maturity, fast as it was. When the raga lakshanas as well as the essence of the ethos of the composition are maintained, speed becomes a secondary factor in this kirtanam.
Nandini's interpretation of the raga with a plethora of faultless vibrant brigas presented delicious melodic ensembles and spoke well of austere drilling, while not necessarily endorsing inspirational value.
Steady build-up of a well-conceived structure of niraval at the charanam ‘Kumara Guru Guha Mahitam’, leading to the kalpanaswaras, rose to a crescendo and concluded with a cheerful applause from the audience. Bharat segued to the Tiruppavai in Hamirkalyani (‘Thoomani Maadathu’), topical to the Margazhi scenario, before embarking on the main (and final) item, in Dhanyasi in the remaining three-quarter hour, weaving many aesthetic and intricate patterns. Nandini was confident and competent in her essays in response and also did full justice to the raga.
Syama Sastri's kriti ‘Meenalochani Brova’ in Misra Chapu was taken through sensitive treatment and heavy lines of the lakshanas of the composition. The niraval at ‘Samaja Gamana’ appeared slow at start, but quickly picked up to reach a stimulating pace, with the kalpanaswaras in Tisra Gati in slow and normal Chatusra Gati when fast. Excellent teamwork was evidenced among the three artists. The thani avartanam for seven minutes, devised by Harinarayanan, was rendered by him with emphatic strokes and high musical value.
Nisha Rajagopal demonstrated her seriousness and training at many stages of her well planned two-hour concert. Ably assisted by R. Sathish Kumar on the violin and P.K. Babu on the mridangam, she commenced with a brisk varnam in Surutti, following it up with Muthuswamy Dikshitar's ‘Pancha Matanga Ganapatina’ in the majestically paced Malahari before Tyagaraja's ‘Ne Jesina Neramu’ in Poornachandrika. There was power in her confident and flawless rendering of Poorvikalyani, reaching the upper panchama.
Korvais, which let the flavour of the raga percolate into the listener's mind, however, could have been longer. Violin accompaniment was adequate in that the ‘shadowing’ was faithful, although in the independent excursions, a trace of screeching showed up at the high notes.
Nilakanta Sivan's ‘Anandanatamaduvar’ in lively Rupakam evoked some of the energy that Lord Nataraja might have radiated in His Cosmic dance. One could say Nisha excelled in the Todi delineation of the concert, all through the elaborate alapana, thrashing out the various ranges. Tyagaraja's ‘Endukudayaraaduraa’, which was then ushered in, merits such coverage, as it scans the higher as well as the lower scale. ‘Taraka Charita Tyagarajanuta’ was a suitable selection point to take up the niraval, which was produced between the singer and violinist for five minutes, followed by kalpanaswaras. With Muthiah Bhagavatar's ‘Vijayambike’ in Vijayanagari had a nostalgic feel to it. Following a traditional, perhaps hoary pattern, Nisha took up Surutti, the raga of her varnam to work on her pallavi. Although the R and T part were low profile, the commitment was evident in the delivery of both, with Nisha shooting out volleys of ravai sancharas in the alapana and Sathish Kumar exercising the right control of the bow to make the tanam sound like tanam, and not a series of akara sancharas. The pallavi had the sahityam ‘Malmanorama Ramana Madhava’ and was taken through trikalam and tisram commendably. It was a pleasant stretch, taking ragas Bhavapriya, Bilahari, and Abheri in its stride. This led to the thani by P. K. Babu, who wove a pleasant and interesting network of sollus, in which many pleasing aural effects were produced. The concert concluded with the Khamas javali of Dharmapuri Subbaraya Iyer, ‘Naari Mani Nee’, and Lalgudi Jayaraman's tillana in Maand.
D.B. Ashvin actively portrayed the Nattakurinji varnam, to the percussive and stringed support of Aswin Sridharan and N. Raghul. Ashvin's voice was pleasant, with its deep rounded timbre, as he prefaced Nattai slowly and briefly, following it up with Tyagaraja's ‘Ninne Bhajana’ with a notable degree of bhakti in it.
With a set of tasteful niraval and swara sancharas at the words ‘Tyagarajanuta Seeta-natha’, both Ashvin and Raghul displayed grace and depth in their alapana of Varali and the follow-up Tiruppavai ‘Aazhimazhai, Kanna.' Brisk and elegant niraval and kalpanaswaras were at ‘Vazha Ulakinil Peithida’. The soft but prominent strokes on the mridangam by Ashwin Sridharan lent an aesthetic touch.
In sharp contrast to the pratimadhyamam of Varali rang out the suddhamadhyamam of Jaganmohini as Ashvin shot out Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Sivakamasundari’. The main raga of the concert, Sankarabharanam, was developed with deep commitment to the raga and the kriti in mind. A loud applause from the audience awaited the conclusion of the alapana phase which traversed the whole canvas of the raga over 15 minutes. Nor was Raghul to be outdone in his endeavour. Fortified by the mood created by the singer, the violinist produced an excellent essay of his own.
Tyagaraja's ‘Manasusvaadheenamai’ showed up in full grandeur. The mridangam helped the singer establish a calm mood with its deep resounding acoustic quality, which aided the briga-dominant lively voice. The threesome on the stage gave the audience their time's worth by presenting a fare that was as delicious as it was solemn. The mridangam vidwan played melodious notes on a seven-some track to suit the misram, during the thani. Ashvin concluded with a ragamalika viruttam in Sanskrit, which embraced ragas Hamsanandi, Sahana and Brindavan Saranga, before concluding with Purandaradasa's ‘Tiruppati Venkataramana’.