Vijay Siva brought out the emotional appeal of Natakurinji in his unhurried rendition. Nandita Ravi stuck to a traditional approach, while there was variety in Sanjay's concert.
Vijay Siva always seems to maintain a certain uncompromising standard for his concerts. From the beginning to the end, the tempo never sagged. He began with Patnam Subramania Iyer's Hamsadhwani Varnam ‘Pagavari' set to Adi Tala. The characteristics of Suddhasaveri were brought out in the niraval and swaras for ‘Samajavarada' of Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar. Though the raga alapana of Kalyani was more or less standard fare, there were a few unusual prayogams. The chosen song was ‘Bhajare Re Chitha' of Dikshitar.
A clever unfolding of Natakapriya left many in the audience guessing. Varadarajan on the violin was quite good in the last two raga alapanas. ‘Maarajananim Asraye' in this raga had interesting swarakalpanas for the pallavi. Siva brought out the ragabhava and the emotional appeal of Natakurinji in his unhurried rendition of ‘Ekkalathilum'. A contrasting cheerful mood was set in ‘Sarasasaamadaana' in Kapinarayani along with niraval and swaras at ‘Hithavumatalentho'.
The main item was Saveri which was developed exhaustively with effective structuring. Varadarajan added lustre to Siva's effort in his turn. Dikshitar's ‘Sri Rajagopala' was taken up with niraval and swaras which had a similar quality as the raga rendition.
J. Vidyanathan on the mridangam was an asset to the concert with his tonal variations when accompanying the vocalist and the violinist and his thani was impressive as always. Towards the end came ‘Tharunam Eedamma' in Gowlibandu, ‘Sivakamasundari' in Mukhari preceded by a Sanskrit sloka in Khambodi and Ameerkalyani, ‘Muddugare Yasoda' in Senchuruti and ‘Apakaranindai' in Sourashtram Usually artists choose Hamsadhwani as a starter in concerts, but in Nandita Ravi's, it came after the varnam and ‘Sujanajeevana' in Khamas to precede the slower Varali. She adheres to the classical framework without going in for gimmicks to attract attention. Varali was elaborated in vilambakala touching on the essential nuances. ‘Dikshitar's ‘Maamava Meenakshi' was sung with niraval and swaras. ‘Maravaadiru Maname' in Kedaram, a composition by Koteeswara Iyer followed, before Nandita took up the main item Kharaharapriya, the development of which was quite appealing with flashes of good ideas. The song rendition of ‘Rama Ni Samanamevaru' was of good standard, but she could have avoided the niraval and stuck to the kalpanaswaras alone.
Ranjani Ramakrishnan on the violin provided valuable support in the raga alapanas and niraval/swaras. So did .V. Manikandan on the mridangam. He played a short thani. The final pieces were ‘Rama Rama' in Thilang and ‘Sivaganga' in Punnagavarali.
There was a sense of joie de vivre in the body language and facial expressions of Sanjay Subrahmanyan during his concert, be it in the varnam to start with or in the final pieces. Except for Tyagaraja's ‘Sive Paahimam' in Kalyani, it was enjoyable to listen to somewhat unfamiliar compositions. ‘Sivachidambarame' in Nagaswaravali, a composition by Muthuthandavar, had lively swarakalpana. The Kanada raga alapana was made interesting with some unusual prayogams. The chosen composition was Calcutta Krishnamoorthy's ‘Sarinike'.
The exposition of Vasantha was quite innovative; the long drawn phrases revealed excellent breath control and it often sounded as if it was nagaswaram with a human voice. In contrast, often these were followed by stand-alone notes characteristic of the particular raga; then there would be a sudden burst of sound followed by some soft vocalisation. This process was true of other raga elaborations too, such as Kalyani and Sivaranjani. Suddhananda Bharati's ‘Ellam Sivan Seyal' in Vasantha had lively niraval and even some comic elements thrown in during the swara segment by manipulating the tala. The Kalyani raga elaboration had a slant of folk idiom towards the end and the same happened in the niraval too in ‘Sive Paahimam'. The exhaustive kalpanaswaras in Madhyamakalam elicited a smile from the audience.
M.R. Gopinath proved equal to Sanjay in the raga, niraval and swara expositions, but it was not possible to outplay him. The thani by Harikumar on the mridangam and Kovai Mohanram on the ghatam tried to match the general mood. After Koteeswara Iyer's ‘Vaa Velava' in Danaroopi, the RTP was taken up. Very rarely would anyone dare to take up Sivaranjani for RTP, but Sanjay proved that it was possible to handle even such a raga as a major one. The Pallavi was set to Khandajati Triputa Tala and had a short Ragamalika too. ‘Thunbam Neragayil' in Desh made many in the audience sing along. A short Tamil verse in Behag was followed by ‘Kalpakambikai Ni Allavo' by Papanasam Sivan with the finale being ‘Narayananai Thudippai' in Tilang.