The choice and distribution of kritis have had its significance in concerts in sustaining the interest of the last rasika in the last row. Violinist Kanyakumari who played with Nishanth Chandran presented a little over a dozen songs at the concert. From ‘Mooladhara Murthi’ (Hamsadhwani, Sivan) to ‘Baghyadha Lakshmi’ (Sri Raga, Purandaradasar) the song selection seemed discrete in terms of ragas, kalapramanams of the songs and its vaaggeyakaras.
Bhairavi, the prime item in this concert, had a dhyana element associated with it and it was soothing for the ears in the beginning stages of Kanyakumari’s alapana that went deep down - dwelling in the mandhara sthayi - with its weighty cadences. If there was a silence, there was an awakening too. The song was ‘Balagopala’ of Dikshitar. Nishant contributed his mite and his playing showed a good reading of the raga’s beauty and its confines. It was at once improvisational. The seamless passing of the alapanas here and at Mohanam (‘Bavanutha,’ Tyagaraja) between the two violinists showed the magnitude of assurance the guru had in her disciple.
The short and relevant announcements made to enlighten rasikas prior to rendering the kritis ‘Santhathamu Ninne’ (Valaji, GNB), ‘Nenendhu Vethakuthura’ (Karnataka Behag, Tyagaraja) and ‘Ramachandrudithadu’ (Dwijavanti, Annamayya) was well taken. Earlier while rendering the Pancharatna kriti, ‘Entharo Mahanubavulu’ the playing of lyrics alone for the charanams did surprise this rasika. Two songs that were at their sedate-best were Syama Sastri’s ‘Marivere Gathi’ in Anandhabhairavi and ‘Nenendhu’ and were left sans-swaras. When the performance is by a duo there is always the competitive and creative aspect in the swaraprastarams, for the challenges it offers and for the endless inventive scope it affords, both to the giver and to the taker. The swaraprastarams therefore, were in good number that began from Hamsadhwani and included Mohanam, Valaji and finally Bhairavi. The ubiquitous nature of songs like ‘Kurai Ondrum Illai’ and ‘Eppa Varuvaro’ that came towards the end had a soothing influence on the rasikas.
Murugaboopathy on the mridangam had a novel second laya accompaniment (upa-pakka-vadhyam) in the form of the tabla played by Ganesh Rao. Murugaboopathy was in the lead but provided ample space for Ganesh Rao to work his exploits. The thani necessarily had simple and manageable korvais from Murugaboopathy that invited legitimate and logical responses from the tabla player.