If Mala Chandrashekar stuck to a traditional approach, Ganesh-Kumaresh were in experiment mode

The auditorium was not overflowing; there was no thunderous applause for every item; there were no frequent frantic signals to the audio controls; no surprise inclusions; no overdose of swarakalpanas; no changing of flutes of different sizes. Yet, Mala Chandrasekar conveyed her musical expression and faith in tradition in no uncertain terms.

Opening with M.S. Subbulakshmi's customary ‘Om Pranavarthaya' and closing with ‘Maitreem Bhaja', Mala truly followed the celebrity's humble approach to classical music. As tradition once maintained, the harbinger of the RTP, Nalinakanti was chosen as the opening varnam of Lalgudi Jayaraman. With ‘Mahaganapathim' in Nattai with moderate rounds of swaras, the concert moved on to the exposition of Harikhambodi. Tyagaraja's ‘Sani Todi' had an extra quota of swaras with greater vivacity.

Mala's raga essays of Purvikalyani, Bhairavi and Nalinakanti carried considerable import with focus on the raga image and melody, and above all the time factor. ‘Ninnu Vina' of Syama Sastri flowed with niraval and swaras like a steady stream with no overplay. Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Balagopala' with the niraval and swaras on ‘Neela Neerada' showcased piety and wisdom. The RTP in Nalinakanti set in Adi talam two kalai started as ‘Nayaka Vinayaka' was breezy compared to these heavy weights.

The Gambiravani composition of Tyagaraja, ‘Sadamathim' and Dandapani Desikar's Saramati kriti ‘Arula Vendum' were worthy additions.

It was splendid team work with C.N. Chandrasekaran on the violin following Mala closely on her melodious excursions, while Palladam Ravi on the mridangam and Sukanya Ramgopal on the ghatam were well tuned to the sobriety of the concert. Their tani avartanam was a delectable exchange of rhythmic motifs, done with clarity and precision.

The prodigies of instrumental music have a problem; they look beyond the music the common rasika looks for. If music is considered as an expression of emotion and devotion by an ordinary rasika, these prodigies considered it an exciting experiment through the medium of the instrument.

The violin duo Ganesh and Kumaresh has mastered the violin as well as the music. The brothers could melt the listener's heart with a gamaka laden Anandabhairavi kriti ‘Manasa Guruguha Roopam' and a pristine preface of Yadukulakhambodi and a poignant ‘Hecharika Ra Ra' of Tyagaraja in all its chasteness.

Again, Thodi as the central piece and the glowing ‘Dasarathi' by Tyagaraja showed the exemplary way the siblings have mastered the instrument. The Thodi raga alapana provided melodic parleys each phrase couched in fine ornamentation of aesthetics. If the smooth glides and stimulating stopovers created a state of bliss, the intentional entry of eccentric trips made the listening disturbing at unexpected junctures.

The swara sallies between Ganesh and Kumaresh tunefully supported by Ganesh singing added extra charm to the offering.

‘Oudava Sampoorna ragas' (five notes on ascend and seven on descend) are always captivating,” said Ganesh and so they presented their own mélange of Amritavarshini and Kalyani named ‘Amrita Kalyani' as their choice for RTP.

For listeners, who always expect something ‘different' or ‘unique' at every concert of a performer, such experimental jaunts might have provided excitement.

The supporting artists V.V. Ramanamurthy and Giridar Uduppa on the mridangam and the ghatam performed with the right decibels to suit an instrumental concert.

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G. SwaminathanDecember 27, 2011