Three Sangita Kalanidhis – N. Ramani, M. Chandrasekaran and Umayalpuram Sivaraman – shared the stage at the inaugural concert of the Music Academy. Each became the pivot for the other and proved that they were a dynamic combination, as good as they were in their prime.

The flute component was further enhanced by the presence of Thiagarajan and Atul Kumar and the laya segment by Giridhar Uduppa (ghatam). The men on stage thus became representatives of the past, present and future, and were able to capture the attention of the audience right from the word go.

Commencing with Viribhoni (Bhairavi) where Sivaraman produced wonderful varieties for chittaswaras that came with the charanam, Ramani’s trio quickly launched into ‘Sri Mahaganapathi’ (Gowlai, Dikshithar). Gowlai and the number that followed (‘Gurulekha,’ GowriManohari) had quintessential raga phrases that were able to establish the two ragas without an iota of doubt.

Atul Kumar took us through an alapana of Hindolam that had all the graded phrases and characteristic prayogas that the Ramani school is credited with. All the same, his attempts to reach the top octave dhaivatham did not appeal to the musically sensitive ears. The song was the redoubtable ‘Samajavara Gamana.’

The main raga was the evergreen Sankarabharanam (‘Endhuku Pedhala’) and one could understand how well the gandhara sancharam occupied the minds of the flautists. Each deployed it in his own way presenting some memorable lilting phrases, but never swerving to any un-grammatical usages.

One was also infinitely pleased with the alternating methods the flautists adopted which ensured the audience heard the flautists individually. Swarakalpana was done at ‘Vedha Saasthra Thathvaarthamu.’

The RTP segment saw Thiagarajan in full flow with Shanmukhapriya and his blowing methods were something akin to full-throated singing. Ramani took charge of the thanam and years of vocal practice (vaaipaattu) seemed to be the plank on which his effort relied upon. The pallavi was in khanda jathi triputa tala and had the line ‘Then Paramgiri Valar Muruga Guhane.’ Ragamalika swaras were hosted in Mohanam, Sahana and Brindavana Saranga, the last of which played by Atul had a Hindustani slant. The thillana (Kanada) in the end was a composition of Ariyakkudi.

Chandrasekaran on the violin proved to be a faithful accompanist and one enjoyed his inclusion, in a limited manner, of folk-type sangatis during the Sankarabaranam raga alapana. He gave new dimensions to raga alapanas while playing Hindolam and Shanmukhapriya and brought out special sangatis that best suited his flamboyant bowing techniques.

Umayalpuram Sivaraman amazed everyone with the effective use of gaps (karvais) and teamed co-operatively with Giridhar Uduppa. Uduppa was given adequate opportunities which he deservedly won, to exhibit his own prowess.

This duo’s art of accompanying songs came as an object lesson to youngsters.

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)