The annual ‘Tamil Isai’ music fete in Thiruvananthapuram offers a rare occasion for rasikas to listen to popular Tamil kritis in Carnatic music. The concert by veteran vocalist T.N. Seshagopalan adhered to sampradaya. The emphasis of his singing was on the bhavam. He began with a Tamil kriti in Natta followed by the popular ‘Vathapi Ganapathim’ in Hamsadhwani.

The subsequent numbers – a chaste Panthuvarali raga visthara and a poignant slokam – had aesthetic sruthibhedams that were developed from the scale. A methodical elaboration articulating the qualities of Kamboji was tagged to the Neelakantan Sivan composition ‘Sivanai Ninaithu’.

Seshagopalan sustained a tranquil mood with his rendition of Varamu raga. Violinist Mahadeva Sharma awed the audience while he nourished Varamu during his extempore piece. The kriti ‘Thunai Purindarul’, including niraval and swarams, unfolded hues of expression.

‘Namam annadhu kel’ in Karnaranjini, illustrating bhakti, was immersed in bhava. Bhairavi (main raga), which began in the usual style, matured into a first-class essay when both the singer and the violinist came up with magical sruthibhedam transitions. The unusual note combinations after the delineation of Sindhubhairavi took the raga on an intricate journey. ‘Kapalini Thrisulini’ was the pallavi set to Khanda Jathi Triputa tala, two kala.

Palakkad Mahesh Kumar on the mridangam and Vazhappally Krishnakumar on the ghatam provided apt support to the singer. The pleasing ‘Kakachirakinilai’ in Brindavana saranga was the concluding kriti.

The Mambalam sisters, Vijayalakshmi and Chithra, cast a spell on the rasikas with their meticulous music. Their clear diction and immaculate rendition elevated the quality of the concert. The concert began with the Neelakantan Sivan composition ‘Sambho Mahadeva’ (Bowli) and ‘Ongi Ulagalandha’ (Arabi). The popular ‘Thaye Yesodha’ in Thodi had flawless swarams that covered the entire space of the scale. The awesome Papanasam Sivan composition ‘Chitham irangathathu’, in which raga Sahana appears in its most pristine form, was sung with perfect sruti alignment.

A vivid description of Poorvi Kalyani was tagged to the popular kriti ‘Anantha nadana’. The lovely composition ‘Guruvayoorappane Appan’ in Reethigowla and ‘Nambi kettavar’ in Hindolam were well-received by the audience. A resplendent Mohanam (main raga) visthara preceded the kriti ‘Kapili’, which had thishra swaras guiding the swara-section to a mathematical climax.

The team consisting of Attukal Balasubramaniam (violin), Kadanadu V .K Gopi (mridangam), Kottayam Unnikrishnan (ghatam) and Thirunnakara Rathesh (morsing) gave superb accompaniment to the sisters.

A lengthy but engaging post-taniavartanam session included some beautiful ragamalikas such as ‘Chinnanchiru kiliye’, ‘Theeratha Vilayatu Pillai’ and a special sampradaya song with 26 ragas that is usually sung at weddings. The sisters wound up the concert with a thillana composed by Balamuralikrishna in Kunthalavarali. The concerts were organised under the aegis of the Thiruvananthapuram Tamil Sangham.