Raju and Nagamani presented a lilting Hindolam that it had a telling effect.
The compositions of Patnam Subramanya Iyer were featured prominently at the concert of U.P. Raju and Nagamani. It was as though the mandolin duet was carefully crafted to allure the two formidable percussionists with kritis that carry a pronounced rhythmic appeal.
The opener, a composition set in nine scales (navaragamalika varnam) was one obvious such instance. They performed this piece in every possible rhythmic variation familiar to students of this genre of music. That is in the so-called chatusra and tisra gatis of the eight-beat adi talam. ‘Idi Nyayama’ of Patnam Subramanya Iyer in ragam Malavi was short but quite pleasing overall effort.
An assessment of the central part of the recital would per force have to be a comparative exercise. The first main song was ‘Guruleka’ of Tyagaraja in ragam Gowrimanohari - the 27th of the 72 foundational scales. A description of its presentation would not be complete unless we cast some light on the other major composition of the evening. That was ‘Padmanabha Pahi,’ of Swati Tirunal in ragam Hindolam.
Both the scales were essayed at length, the songs ornated with attractive and equally lengthy improvisations. But then, the two artists played the Hindolam ragam with such delicacy and tenderness to telling effect that one could not have missed the contrast. The response from the audience was quite audible; perhaps even visible.
The reason behind such a pronounced difference in impact between the recitals of two compositions, all within the space of a few minutes, is at best a matter of speculation. The interlude between the two main pieces was Muthaiah Bhagavatar’s ‘Rajarajarajite,’ in ragam Nirostha.
It was then the turn of the percussionists B. Ganapathiraman (on the mridangam) and S. Karthick (on the ghatam), both of whom made more than sure that the tani avarthanam was anything but a mere ritual. Ganapathiraman was only recently conferred the title Vani Kala Nipuna by the Thyagabrahmma Gana Sabha; a huge recognition.
It was time yet again for the dasara padam ‘Manave Mantralayam,’ in ragamalika. ‘Kuraiondrum Illai,’ ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baaro,’ ‘Raghuvamsa Sudhambudichandra,’ ‘Bhagyadalakshmi Baaramma’ and a tillana were the concluding pieces.