The vocal recital by Malladi Brothers was impeccable, bringing to fore the depth and variety that their music was capable off

Nadasurabhi Cultural Association, Bangalore, conducted its 20th Annual Music Festival recently with a week long series of concerts by eminent artistes, and conferred the title Sangeetha Surabhi on Madurai T.N. Seshgopalan. A vocal recital by Malladi Brothers, Sriram Prasad and Ravikumar, accompanied by H.K. Venkataram (violin), Tumkur B. Ravishankar (mridanga) and G. Guruprasanna (kanjira), was part of the Festival.

The performance, which began with ‘Sarasijanabha’, the ata thala varna in Kamboji, went on to an impeccable delineation Asaveri as exemplified in the Thyagaraja krithi ‘E Paniko’ in adi thala. Accentuated by a mellow tempo, the few rounds of bhava infused kalpana swaras suffixed to the charana sahithya beginning ‘Vaalmikadi Munulu’ incorporated unobtrusive rhythmic patterns based on the complex structure of the raga. The sedate pace was continued with ‘Sri Thulasamma’ in Devagandhari raga and adi thala, another Thyagaraja composition.

Sriranjini was taken up next for a superb elaboration replete with imaginative and fluid sancharas that illumined the sweetness of the raga. “Sri Dum Durge Shiva Samsarge” in khanda jathi ekatala, an exquisite composition of Muthuswami Dikshithar and a rarity on the concert stage, was ornamented with compact, yet melodious kalpana swaras. A fairly detailed alapana of Ramapriya followed, exploring the myriad possibilities of the scale within prescribed classical parameters. Depth and variety were discernible in the steady upward progression of the exercise, using the gamaka-oriented rishabha and nishada, the plain gandhara and dhaivatha, and the subtly inflected madhyama on occasion. Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer’s splendid composition “Korinavara” in rupaka thala was presented with a beautifully crafted and evocative neraval at “Parichara Vaanara Samooha” and kalpana swaras in the second speed that included diminishing thala cycles ending at the dhaivatha.

A change of pace and gait was effected with a measured rendering of Shyama Shastri’s “Marivere Gathi” in Anandabhairavi raga and mishra chapu thala. The trademark fluency and consummate artistry of the duo were explicit in the succeeding alapana of Shankarabharanam. The consonance of the notes in the scale was exploited in full measure, juxtaposing traditional weighty sancharas with unusual usages, balancing custom with individuality and technical command with aesthetic appeal. The madhya sthayi featured multiple phrases around the gandhara, madhyama and panchama, before ascending to a long pause at the thara sthayi shadja, and dwelling extensively on the gandhara and madhyama above, interspersed with sparkling brighas. Thyagaraja’s “Emi Neramu Nannu Brova” in adi tala was underscored with a neraval and kalpana swaras at “Deena Bandhuvani”. The concert also included a raga thana pallavi in Jaganmohini raga with the pallavi beginning ‘Sharanagathajana Rakshaki’ set to adi thala tisra gathi.

Pieces by Purandaradasa, Bhadrachala Ramadas and Sadasiva Brahmendra in ragas Jinjhooti, Mukhari and Sindhubhairavi respectively were included in the concluding segment of the concert. Violin accompaniment was expert and tuneful and stayed true to convention in solo essays, while percussion was adept, skilful and supportive.