Different streams of music were showcased by seasoned performers during the National Music Festival in Palakkad.

The National Music Festival began with an electrifying performance by Sanjay Subramanyan. He opened with Muthiah Bhagavathar’s varnam ‘Manamohana’ in Mohanam. His alapana of Begada conformed to the classical pattern. He spun a cascade of lively swaraprastharas at the charanam in Poochi Iyengar’s ‘Anudinamu’. The lyrical beauty of ‘Thanigaivalar’, a kriti of Paapanaasam Sivan in Thodi, was well brought out in his presentation.

Kalyani raga received exhaustive treatment, with Sanjay adorning it with marvellous sangatis. The kriti was Dikshitar’s ‘Bhajare re chitha’. His analytical elaboration of Natabhairavi, punctuated with akaara-oriented sangathis, was a tribute to his musical vision. The spontaneous flow of swaraprastharas in the Sivan kriti ‘Sri Valli Devasaanapathe’ proved his ingenuity. The imaginative delineation of Thilang, followed by a captivating tanam showcased his creativity.

Rendering excellent support, violinist Edappally Ajith Kumar presented fascinating raga essays. Mahesh Kumar’s dexterous beats on the mridangam enlivened the concert. Perukavu Sudheer (ghatam) made his presence felt with his powerful display.

Kathakali padams

On the second day, Kalamandalam Jayaprakash and Kalamandalam Vinodh were the vocalists in a concert featuring Kathakali padams. Commencing with ‘Harihara Vidhinutha’ in Gowla, they rendered ‘Sarasija sararoopa’ from ‘Kachadevayani charitam’, in Begada. Preceded by a good sketch of Sri ragam, they next presented ‘Ajitha Hare’ from ‘Kuchela Vritham’ with bhava.

After a brilliant delineation of Kalyani, the duo rendered ‘Goravibhinam idhil’ (‘Nalacharithram – third day’). ‘Kasthureethilakam’, a shloka in Yamuna Kalyani, and the succeeding ‘Krishna karuna’ were rich in aesthetics. The excellent support by Kalamandalam Nandakumar (chenda), Kalamandalam Rajanarayanan (maddalam) and Sadanam Ranjith (edakka) enhanced the appeal of the concert.

On the third day, Sankaran Namboodiri grabbed the attention of listeners with his resonant voice and good diction. Pleasing renditions of ‘Abhishta Varadha’ (Hamsadhwani - Tyagaraja), Muthiah Bhagavathar’s ‘Yarukkum adangaadha’ in Begada and ‘Kana Vendaamo’ (Sri Ranjani – Sivan) ensured a good start to his recital. Panthuvaraali alapana stood out for its classical texture; the swaraprastharas in the Swati Tirunal kriti ‘Paripaalaya Saraseeruha’ made an impact.

The delineation of Kamboji had limited impact, as it was not explored to its full potential. However, the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Evarimata’ was well- presented, with a fine niraval and interesting swara combinations.

Sankaran Namboodiri would do well to pay little more attention to the ‘sowkhya’ element. Also, his constant reference to note books is not a desirable feature in a concert. Swaminathan’s violin accompaniment was marked by tonal clarity and rich melody. Balakrishna Kamath gave a spirited display on the mridangam. Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatam) came up with a lively show.

On the fourth day, Kottakkal Ranjith Warrier showed his musical acumen in his vocal recital. Opening with the Nattakurinji varnam ‘Chalamela’, he proceeded to an energetic version of Swati’s ‘Deva Deva Kalayaami’ in Mayamaalavagowla. The sprightly renditions of the Tyagaraja kritis ‘Evarani’ (Devamrithavarshini) and ‘Raarama’ (Asaveri) enabled him to sustain the good tempo. His alapana of Poorvikalyani, followed by a vivid portrayal of Neelakanta Sivan’s ‘Ananda natamaatuvar’ was truly traditional.

He gave full evidence of his virtuosity in his elaboration of Reethigowla. His interpretation of ‘Janani Ninuvina’ (Subbaraya Sastri), suffixed with well-crafted kalpana swaras, was heart warming.

His expansive exposition of Thodi projected the raga in all its multifarious dimensions. Telling phrases in the niraval and finely designed swara clusters in the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Koluvamaragatha’ showcased his fertile manodharma.

Cherthala Sindhu revealed her mastery, with her melodious violin accompaniment. Palakkad Harinarayanan’s brilliant support on the mridangam left an indelible impression on the listeners. Payyanur Govindaprasad displayed his expertise on the morsing.

On the fifth day, Abhradita Maitra Banerjee enthralled the audience with her enchanting music. She was ably assisted by her disciple Charu Hariharan.

Mellifluous voice

Endowed with a mellifluous voice with a wonderful range, Abhradita commenced with Ganapathi vandana in Yaman (Kalyani in Carnatic parlance), rendering it first in Bada khayal in Ek taal and then in Chota Khayal in teen taal. The rendition was marked by splendid gamaka oscillations.

She next took up raga Kalavathi (similar to Valaji) and presented two traditional khayals – one in Jhap taal and another in teen taal. She excelled in elaborating raga Chandrakauns, embellishing it with akaras and swaras. Following the Rabindra sangeeth (rendered in tappa style), she sang a bhajan of Swati Tirunal tuned by her in Madhuvanthi.

The concluding item was another bhajan on Parvathi Devi in Bhairavi (similar to Sindhubhairavi). Accompanists were Ratnasree (tabla) and Dinesh Devdas (harmonium).

B. Vijayagopal’s flute recital on the sixth day was noted for its melodic content. The concert opened on a bright note with the navaraga varnam ‘Valachi Vachi’, followed by Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Mooladhaara Murthe’ in Hamsadhwani. In presenting ‘Deva Deva Kalayami’ in Mayamalavagowla, he handled the flute skilfully in the niraval and reached the crescendo in the lively swara patterns. His alapana of Karaharapriya opened up new vistas; the elegant sangatis on the long flute were soothing. Vivacious permutations in the kalpana swaras in the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Pakkala Nilapati’ were a real treat. The piece-de-resistance of the concert was the majestic elaboration of Kalyani and the graceful portrayal of Tyagaraja’s ‘Aetaavunara’, which was marked by a comprehensive niraval and neat swaraparstharas.

M.A. Sundareswaran displayed his command over the violin, in his delectable raga versions and swara passages. Trivandrum Surendran (mridangam) showed maturity in his outstanding accompaniment. Tripunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) matched him well with his competent performance. The concluding day’s (Saint Tyagaraja Day) proceedings commenced with rendition of Pancharatna kritis by a group of musicians.

Fitting finale

Gayathri Venkataraghavan’s vocal concert that evening proved to be a fitting finale to the festival. She struck a chord with the listeners with her pleasing stage presence and bhava-laden music.

‘Sarasijanabha’, a varnam of Palakkad Parameswara Bhagavathar in Natta, followed by Dikshitar’s ‘Vallabha Nayakasya’ in Begada formed a prelude to a superb alapana of Gowri Manohari.

Her spirited niraval in the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Gurulekha’ proved her keen sense of kalapramana.

She scaled great heights in her scintillating portrayal of Kalyani. Choosing the kriti ‘Nijadaasa Varadha’ of Patnam Subramanya Iyer, she presented a lucid niraval and a cluster of exquisite swara patterns. ‘Maayamma in Aahiri (Shyama Sastri) and the Tamil virutham (ragamalika) were etched in aesthetic bhava.

Avaneeswaram S.R. Vinu’s violin accompaniment was top class; his solo versions exuded melody. Umayalpuram Mali’s mridangam support was an amalgam of agility and dexterity. Kottayam Unnikrishnan (ghatam) handled the ghatam with precision. The fete was organised by the Palghat Fine Arts Society.