V. Sumithra was a picture of confidence, while Mysore Chandan Kumar was at his innovative best.
There was a good deal of vivacity in V. Sumithra's rendering of ‘Seetapati Naa Manasuna' (Tyagaraja, Khamas, Desadi), following ‘Viriboni' varnam and ‘Smarane Sukhamu Sri Rama-naama', a rare composition of Tyagaraja in Janaranjani and Desadi tala, with a sprinkling of kalpanaswaras at the charanam ‘Raama Naama Sravana-mula.'
The Khamas item was outstanding in the high-speed volley of kalpanaswaras exchanged between Sumithra and S. Arunachala Karthik on the violin, with R. Sankaranarayanan spraying a lot of appropriate solkattus. In a full, rich voice, Sumithra adumbrated raga Varaali through the swaras ‘dha-pa-ma-ga,-ri-sa, ni-ri-ga-ma,,' and then proceeded to depict the raga in its full hue, confidently striding through durita kaala sancharas, centred on the upper Sa.
Karthik, for his part, made full use of the bass string, while the richness of his bowing and precision of finger placement saw the higher pitches also dealt with properly. Muthuswami Dikshitar's samushti-charana keertanam ‘Maamava Meenakshi' in misra chapu received royal treatment through niraval and kalpanaswaras at ‘Shyame Sankari.' After a short kriti ‘Sree Janaki Kshiteesa' in Useni and Khandachapu tala, Sumithra moved on to the RTP in Begada, ‘Rama, Nee Mahima Teliya Tarama' in a double-beat Khandajati Jhampa tala, taking off for ‘Mahima' at three-quarter point. The raga alapana preceding this was thrashed out thoroughly between voice and violin for some nearly fifteen minutes, the tanam taking a further eight minutes. The customary trikalam and tisram in two kalams was served faithfully, as also ragamalika in the kalpanaswaras. A short thani avartanam with plenty of rapid rolling rounds of beats, sounding at times like a sandstorm and sometimes like a hailstorm, was tastefully presented by Sankaranarayanan on the mridangam. The concert went through a ragamalika viruttam, transiting gracefully through Shanmukhapriya, Kedaragowla, Saveri and Bhagyasri, to finish with the Tamil song in Adi talam.
The first and lasting impression of Mysore Chandan Kumar's flute recital was the sweet and melodious blow, bereft of any extraneous sounds of wind. He produced substantial acoustic output from a 3 -kattai instrument, which facilitated easy listening at the higher sthayis.
A varnam in Nattai was followed by a short slow portrayal of Anandabhairavi, and while the mind speculated on which composition was to follow, there came a pleasant surprise with Dikshitar's Navavarana ‘Sri Kamalaambaa Samrakshatu Maam' in Misra chapu taalam, rendered with sanctity.
Tyagaraja's ‘Vara Narada Narayana' in raga Vijayasree in adi talam was as unexpected as it was soothing, thanks to excellent coordination with Arun Ramamurthi and A.V Manikandan. Nearly half an hour of Suruti included a steady delineation of the raga, with stress on the passage "ri- ma- pa- nee, nee Sa, ni, S, Ri, MaGaRi.' A few breaks /pauses disturbed the continuity at times, as also the slight drop in the upper madhyama.
Both flautist and violinist put up a neat and complete fare. The raga portrayal eminently suited the fine style of Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Sree Venkatesa Gireesa' in adi talam (also commencing at a royal pace with equivalent swaras ‘ri ma(pa), pa', and the kalpanaswaras were also woven with care and aesthetics. In ten minutes, Manikandan, so far accompanying the musician with skill and grace, put up an enjoyable thani avartanam.
Chandan imported the use of the bass flute to introduce the folksy Sindubhairavi, which had little trouble lending a bucolic mood to the proceedings, when he swiftly changed to the sharp flute, evoking the image of innumerable sparrows taking flight all at once. With this, he delightfully brought the concert to a serene finish.