‘Swararagasudha,' a music festival in Thrissur, featured three exemplary concerts that delved deep into the nuances of various ragas and talas.

Two instrumental concerts and one vocal recital were showcased at ‘Swararagasudha,' a musical festival at Neeranjali Hall, Thrissur, for three days in succession. On the first day, Mudikondan S.N. Ramesh enchanted the audience with his dexterity in playing the veena. He opened with the Adi tala varnam ‘Chalamela' in Nattakurinji, composed by Sreerangam Ranga Swamy Nattuvanar. His quest for sticking strictly to the sahithya was evident as the recital progressed. This became more pronounced as he switched to the next numbers, Dikshitar's composition in Natta, ‘Mahaganapathim manasasmarami' and Tyagaraja's pancharatna kirtana ‘Entharo mahanu bhavanlu' in Sree, Adi tala. The latter became more enjoyable when he played a few lines in the octaves. The Bouli kirtana ‘Sree Parvathy Parameswarary,' again a Dikshitar composition, was short, but the slow tempo was remarkable. ‘Enthara nee thana,' a Harikamboji composition of Thyagaraja in Roopakam was especially notable for the verve with which he plucked out the swaras. Muthaiah Bhagavathar's ‘Vanchathonu naavagalu' in Karnaranjini provided variety as it was in Adi, Trisa nata.

Typical flourishes

The rendition was marked by the typical flourishes of the Tisra gathi. After an invigorating ‘Paramapurusha Jagadeeswara,' Swati's composition in Vasanatha, Adi tala, he took Saramathy as the main raga for the evening. While the way in which he essayed the raga was impressive, one was surprised by his ability to reproduce each syllable of the composition with utmost fidelity. Many phrases appeared in octaves as in a dialogue. Sangatis of the first line and the improvisations were remarkable. Ramesh benefited much from the strong percussion support given by Trivandrum Surendran (mridangam) and Vaikom Gopalakrishnan (ghatam). However, one felt that the tani tagged to the main piece could have been shorter. Before winding up the two-hour concert with the much popular Swati tillana in Dhanasree, he also played a short number in Behag.

Flute maestro N. Ramani, who was performing in the city after a long gap, attracted quite a large crowd. The two-hour recital proved that melody and classicism were his metier. The opening varnam was ‘Sarasijanabha,' the Swati composition in Ada tala. The misra chapu number in Goula, ‘Sree Maha ganapathi' of Dikshitar followed. Again there was a variety in tala as he switched to ‘Gurulekha' in Gourimanohari and Jampa.

The vast scope of the instrument was discernible in the protracted alapana of Mohanam, in which he glided over the three sthayis quite effortlessly. The selection was ‘Bavanutha naahridayamuna ramim pu mu,' a Tyagaraja composition in Adi. A fast and short Malavi, Tyagaraja's ‘Nenarunchinanu' in Adi was an excellent prelude to the main raga Kaapi. ‘Inthasoukhyamathine,' also a Tyagaraja composition in Adi, was most soothing as his fingers etched out euphonious phrases of the raga. Perhaps, this number served considerably in making the concert a memorable one. ‘Manasasancharare' (Syama) and ‘Bhajaremanasam' (Sindhubhairavi) played on the bansuri, preceded the tillana in Dhanasree that was repeated for the second day.

Inimitable style

Remarkable was the avartanam on the violin by Attukal Balasubramaniam in all the numbers. It was notable for his propriety and proportion. Chertala Ananthakrishnan provided the mridangam support. Manjoor Unnikrishnan's ghatam stood out for the sustained tone of a bass drum he produced during the concert.

The festival concluded with a vocal recital by T.N. Seshagopalan. There was an extra emphasis on swaras in all the numbers he recited and also sancharas in the sthayis, very often touching the lowest notes of mandra sthayi. He began with the Panthuvarali varnam ‘Saminithodi' in Adi of Veena Kuppayar. There was a repeat of the Goula number of the previous day, ‘Sree maha ganapahi' in Misra chapu by Dikshitar. It was a full throated alapana that led to ‘Angarakam asrayam yaham,' also a Dikshitar composition in Suruti. Shyama Sastri's ‘Himadrisuthe' in Kalyani, Adi, followed. Elaboration of the raga Brindavana Saranga was extensive and mainly dwelled on the tara sthayi. The composition was ‘Soundara rajam' of Dikshitar. Even as he amazingly brought out enticing shades of the raga, the accent on kanak was more pronounced, which could have been avoided.

‘Entha mutho' in Bindumalini and Adi by Tyagaraja was a breather. However, the attempt on RTP (Bhairavi and Sindhu Bhairavi) in Khanta tripuda when he was already through more than two hours of the concert, appeared redundant.

Avaneeswaram S. R. Vinu (violin), Annoor Ananthakrishna Sarma (mridangam) and Vaikom Gopalakrishnan (ghatam) provided the pakkam.

The festival was jointly organised by Sree Thayagabrahma Sangeetha Sabha, Bharatam, and Thaalam.