Music and dance reigned at a festival held in connection with Navaratri at Edappally.

Those residing in and around Edappally were treated to a week-long classical music and dance extravaganza on the occasion of Navaratri celebrations. Most of the music concerts featured Navaratri compositions of Swati Tirunal and tanam singing with mridangam accompaniment.

The first day had veena player Ananthapadmanabhan demonstrating his manodharma with a presentation of Amruthavarshini alapana followed by the composition ‘Sudhamayee sudhanidhim’. Some rapid fingering patterns and brigas accentuated the effect of the raga. However, speed marred his presentation of ‘Marivere’ in Anandabhairavi. Young vocalist Kashyap Mahesh gave a fine display of Saveri raga with unhurried illustration of its nuances. This was followed by the Syama Sastri composition ‘Sankari Sankuru’. The vocalist showed problems in sruti alignment in his Kalyani alapana, which was tagged on with the composition ‘Pahimam Sri Vageeshwari’.

Vishnudev was the surprise package of the festival. His music proved to be a mix of amazing imagination, spontaneity and verve. Elucidation of raga Begada was compact and sophisticated, and the vocalist presented ‘Jaya Durge’. Dikshithar’s ‘Sivakameshwarim chintayeham’ in Kalyani raga was noteworthy for its intricate swara passages. Trivandrum Sampath excelled when he supported the vocalist in the niraval ‘Santhakalyana gunashalini’. Niraval proved to be Vishnudev’s strong point once again as he explored the myriad hues of Saveri raga in ‘Devi pavane’.

Kalamandalam Sugandhi and her daughter and student Nandita presented Mohiniyattom ‘Seva’ on the fourth day. Nandita displayed her calibre in abhinaya in a thematic piece ‘Gandhari’, and she executed the pure nritta items with felicity, grace and finesse. Traditional ‘vaythari’ of Kerala talas and sopana style of music were employed to good effect.

Cheppad Vamanan Namboodiri gave a packed and neat version of Dwijavanthi raga on the fifth day. The swara endings were ably replicated by Balakrishna Kamath on the mridangam and he continued to put up a good show in the taniavarthanam with immense dexterity and variety in the rhythmic patterns. Vamanan Namboodiri also presented ‘Janani mamava’ in Bhairavi raga.

Bangalore Brothers M.B. Hariharan and S. Ashok presented the famed Bhairavi swarajathi of Syama Sastri with precision, bringing out the subtleties and gamaka aspects of the raga well in the composition. The highlight was the niraval singing for the first line of the pallavi of ‘Saroruhasana jaye’ in Pantuvarali raga. This was expressively rendered in freestyle. Discordant notes were sung admirably in different nadais in the swara-singing phase.

One of the best concerts of the festival was the one by Prasanna Venkataraman. He displayed commendable artistry in suffusing raga phrases of Kalyani. As he progressed upward in the alapana, the build-up was executed unostentatiously with not a single phrase that was out of place. ‘Bhajare re chitha’ of Dikshitar was sung emotively with niraval on ‘Devi shaktibeejotbhava’. Prasanna’s kriti renditions were equally impressive as he gave due emphasis to sahitya bhava and clarity of enunciation. Shudhasaveri raga and the kriti ‘Janani pahi sada’ were rendered delectably with emphasis on the jeeva swara ‘madhyama’.

Veteran vocalist O.S. Thyagarajan had scintillating kalpanaswaras for Mysore Vasudevachar’s Kamavardhini kriti ‘Sankari ninne’. Nattakurinji raga received a comprehensive treatment, fast sancharas covering a wide variety and range. Kovai Suresh on the mridangam gave effective back-up for a pallavi and the strong presence of the instrument was obvious through out the concert.

Balamani Easwar vouched for ‘woman power’ in her classy performance on the last day of the festival. Her pliable voice sketched the contours of Todi raga and the composition ‘Ninnenammi nanu’ of Syama Sastri in Misra chappu. The dynamic singing had the audience glued to their seats as she executed swara korvais of exquisite variety for short rhythm cycles in Arabhi raga for ‘Pahiparvatanandini’. Balamani dwelled on the quaint shades of Madhyamavati before moving on to the more popular aspects of the raga and the composition ‘Palinchu Kamakshi’. Violinist Kottayam Hariharan demonstrated his strength in technique in his bowing, when he played lightning fast sancharas of the raga in the follow-up.

The festival brought together musicians from the State along with some big names from other parts of South India and the result was music of manifold dimensions and interpretations. The programme was organised by Edappally Sangeeta Sadas and Changampuzha Samskarika Kendram.