Kanyakumari-Kannan duo's adeptness in exchanging swaras is something admirable. Manda Sudharani offered a fair deal of music.
It was indeed gratifying to note that Kanyakumari and Kannan have framed their concert with proper planning adhering meticulously to the time factor. They began their concert with Sri Ragam (‘Sami Ninne' varnam) and closed with Sri Ragam (‘Bhagyatha Lakshmi Baramma'). This speciality apart, they have almost included swarakalpana to almost every item except perhaps for the tukkadas and the slow and sedate ‘Ne Nendu Veda Gudura' in Karnataka Behag. ‘Gam Ganapathe' in Hamsadhwani, ‘Sri Parvathi' in Bowli and ‘Darini Telusu Konti' preceded by a brief alapana of Suddha Saveri, all appended with liberal swara packages. On the positive side, the way Kanyakumari and Kannan built up the swaras in the Bowli number was very appealing and so were the others too.
Kiravani was offered a greater share of time by both and the raga essay was replete with proficient passages. Tyagaraja's ‘Kalikiyunde Gada' enjoyed extrapolation on the charanam ‘Bhagavadagre Sarulagu Narada' with several strings of swaras. Kanyakumari-Kannan duo's adeptness in exchanging swaras is something admirable as they show high sense of timing and arithmetical acumen.
After the brisk ‘Bogeenthra Sayeenam' in Kuntalavarali, the artists set for the Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Charukesi. Providing enough space for ragam and tanam, the pallavi was borrowed from Syama Sastri; ‘Palimchu Kamakshi,' set to Chatusra Jati Roopaka talam. Luckily, this was announced and Kannan sang the pallavi; more appealing as the RTP was in pure Charukesi without any ragamalika medley. The kuraippu and korvais were remarkably conjured.
The percussion group for the duo was an enviable trio - veteran Mannargudi Eswaran on the mridangam with Bangalore Amrit on the ganjira and Bhagyalakshmi M. Krishna on the morsing. The trio very efficiently favoured the main players without any high decibel interventions and their thani was neatly divided and assembled. The tail-end section saw Kanyakumari announcing the Kshetrayya, Annamayya items and a Sivaranjani Thillana of Maharajapuram Santhanam.
Manda Sudharani had to brave her way through two major hurdles; one her sore throat and the other the dwindling audience slowly but steadily. Notwithstanding these, Manda Sudharani approached her concert with gumption and offered a fair deal of music without losing her steadfastness and quality. ‘Vanajaasana Vinutha' in raga Sree of Subbaraya Sastri with its enchanting chittaswara sahitya was the initial casualty of her truant voice.
An essay of Kannada for ‘Ninnadane' of Tyagaraja and her forays on the swaras with ‘ga' and ‘ma' showed her recovery from her downside with alacrity. Prefacing the raga Natakapriya, Sudharani presented ‘Idi Samayamu Brovarada' of Mysore Vasudevachar luxuriantly with commendable niraval and swaras.
Mohanam took the centerstage with an elaboration for Tyagaraja's ‘Mohana Rama.' The extension was marked for a charanam line adding good measure of swara suite landing on dhaivatam and tapering into an interesting finale.
Her voice restricted Sudharani to stick on to the middle region sancharas most of the time eschewing long phrasings and upper octave notes as they showed perceptible strain.
Thanks to the competent and melodic violinist Padma Shankar who was fully shoring up the morale of the vocalist with best complements in raga replies and swara sallies. Padma's contribution in this concert was noticeably remarkable and her Mohanam exposition was a piece of distinction. The Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi was set in Purvikalyani with a short pallavi in Misra Chapu that went as ‘Apoorva Kalyani Apanga Karuna Tarangini.'
Neyveli Narayanan and Nanganallur S. Swaminathan contributed their impartial share in promoting the value of the concert to higher levels. Music seems to have therapeutic effects, it is said. It has to be true as one could feel it in Manda Sudharani's concert since her voice showed clear signs of improvement significantly with the progression of the concert.