If Chaitra Sairam's concert was exquisite, Mandolin Sisters' recital was soulful.

The Sun came out and smiled after four days of overcast sky and rain. And, Chaitra Sairam's main piece was on ‘Sri Ramachandra.' The niraval was appropriately at ‘Sri Bhaskarakuladri Deepa,' (You are the beacon light of the Surya dynasty), a charanam of Tyagaraja's Khambodi masterpiece, ‘Sri Raghukula.' It was as exquisite as it was majestic, bringing to the fore the divine beauty of the raga.

Chaitra built the raga stage by stage. The magapadhasa, sanipadhasa, dhasaneedhapa, dhasarigasa and several other sancharas of Khambodi came alive. This critic is used to the kirtana where swara as well as the sahitya are sung for all charanams. Chaitra, disciple of Bombay Jayasri followed her guru's method of rendering it. The raga alapana was a bit too long for a ninety-minute concert.

M.S. Ananthakrishnan on the violin etched the raga in true Parur style. If Kumbakonam Swaminathan's mridangam accompaniment was a great support to the vocalist, his thani had something special to offer, especially in thisram and khanda nadais. The way he handled them is a model for others to follow - short, yet elucidative. Chaitra's alapana of Ranjani was soft. Ananthakrishnan's response was powerful. ‘Durmargachara' of Tyagaraja in Rupaka tala was the chosen kriti. The kalpanaswaras brought out the essence of the raga in quite a few shades.

‘Nagendra Haraya Trilochanaya, Basmanga Ragaya Maheswaraya' from the Siva Panchakshara sthothram provided the right opening for Gopalakrishna Bharathi's Andolika piece, ‘Sevikka Vendum Ayya.' The swara combinations in Andolika were a delight to listen to.

Chaitra opened her concert with the Saveri varnam of Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer, ‘Sarasuda.' However, it was in the Atana Devaranama of Purandaradasar, ‘Sakalagraha Bala Neene' in khanda chaapu that the artist opened up and then there was no looking back. On the whole, the audience had a sumptuous musical treat.

The next was a scintillating performance by the Mandolin Sisters, M. Sreeusha and M. Sireesha. They also opened with the Saveri varnam. It is here that prepared schedules help avoid repetitions. Their Thodi will linger in the minds of listeners for a long time. It is not an easy raga to play on this instrument. Every note has a unique gamaka. Their rendering was soulful.

The kriti they chose was the heavy ‘Kaddanu Variki' of Tyagaraja in Adi talam. The raga portrayal was shared well between them. The niraval was at the charanam line, ‘Niddura Nirakarinchi.'

After the kalpanaswara, the expected thani avartanam by K.S. Ramana on the mridangam and M.V. Subba Rao on the ghatam was sweet, but short, in view of the time constraint. There was no rhythmic exchange, as they chose to play together. The siblings earlier etched Simhendramadhyamam in all its charm for the kriti, ‘Kamakshi Kamakoti'.

What a Bindumalini that was! This ubhaya vakra shadava janya raga came into prominence through ‘Entha Muddo' of Tyagaraja. The duo excelled in the presentation of this kriti. The Begada and Desh were truly classical. There is little doubt that the siblings will go places.

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