Malladi Brothers and Gayathri Venkatraghavan’s Navaratri concerts were real crowd pullers.

While corporates sponsoring concerts organised by various sabhas have been the general norm, Arun Excello has gone a step further by staging annual concerts during Navarathri on its own. This trend is slowly catching up with a few corporates following suit. The ultimate benefactor, however, is classical music and its fraternity.

This year too, the programmes at the Music Academy auditorium drew large crowds on all the days this past weekend. Saturday evening saw a full house during Malladi Brothers’ concert. And the duo did not disappoint. The mesmerising power of Carnatic music was evident, with the siblings choosing kritis - both popular and rare. The crowd stayed till the mangalam. The selection from Tyagaraja’s Tiruvayyaru Dharamasamvardhani kritis, ‘Balay Balayndu Bhushani,’ brightened up the proceeding. Keeping the occasion in mind, the selected kritis focussed on the Devi.

It was a breezy alapana of Janaranjani by Sriramprasad followed by Pahimam Sri Rajarajeswari (Ramaswamy Sivan). This kriti, set in a beautiful varna mettu with an attractive chitaswaram, was executed grippingly. Keeping the authenticity intact, Ravikumar began a Kalyani essay differently from the Nishadam. The approach seemed fresh. He took his own time to develop the raga stage by stage, never going off track. Stress was on sowkhiyam during the 12-minute foray, than unnecessary lacings. B. Raghavendra Rao (violin), a seasoned campaigner in concert circuits here, did live up to his reputation as a team man. His Kalyani was equally good. Tachhur Singarachrayalu’s ( a composer belonging to the early 19th century ) ‘Devi Meenakshi’ ( Rupakam), with speed variations, neraval and a liberal dose of kalpanaswaras, was splendidly showcased.

Dikshitar’s ‘Abhayambhika’ (Kedaragowlai- kandachapu) and a rare Tygaraja kriti, ‘Koti Nadulu Dhanushkotilo’ (Todi - Adi), came in quick succession followed by a Madyamavathi delineation by Sriramprasad. He continued in the mood created by his brother. Totally unhurried, he structured his raga with lengthy sancharas and traversed the octaves with consummate ease, reminding one of Nedanuri Krishnamuthy Bhagavatar at times.

The duo did full justice to the profundity of Syama Sastry’s ‘Palinchu Kamakashi.’ Parupalli Subbaraya Phalgun (mridangam) and Alathur Rajaganesh (kanjira) combined well to present an attractive tani. Parupalli’s accompanying style embellished the concert throughout. The end pieces included ‘Jaya Jaya Durgay’ (Durga - Narayana Teerta - Durga), ‘Sivaganga’ (Puunagavarali- Sivan), ‘Thraipureem Sundareem’ (Karaharapriya - Mysore Ganapathy Sachidananda Swami) and ‘Palukutay Nela Talli’ ( Abheri - Annamaya).

Memorable recital

Gayathri Venkatraghavan was featured on Sunday evening. She was in full form with perfect sruthi alignment and sangathis falling in place. That evening too the hall was packed and Gayathri vindicated her selection with a memorable concert. Keeravani, a sampoorna ragam, was detailed elaborately (‘Devi Neeyay Thunai’- Sivan). Gayathri’s expressiveness saw her move into a different dimension.

The pick of the evening was Todi and the Syama Sastry kriti, ‘Ninnay Namminaanu.’

The exposition of the raga was not as lengthy as Keeravani, yet it had a telling impact. Never showing signs of any strain, while negotiating tough brikhas, always exchanging smiles with her accompanist, Gayathri was confidence personified. An emotional rendering of the kriti, particularly in the anupallavi lines ‘kannatalli gadaa bidaayani’ with several variations, put the rasikas in a meditative mood. The speed selection added to the ecstatic mood.

Padma Sankar (violin) proved her mettle both in her replies and kalapanaswaras. Manoj Siva’s (mridangam) tani with Trichy Murali (ghatam) was interesting with myriad variations in tisram.

Gayathri also presented an array of songs on the Devi such as ‘Nee Ninaindhal’ (Durbari -Thooran), ‘Aval Daan Anaithaiyum Aatubaval’ (Ananda Bhairavi – Kanada - Sivaranjani - Ulundurpettai Shanmugam) popularised by Sirgazhi Govindarajan, Bharathiyar’s ‘Nenjukku Needhiyum’ and ‘Matha Parashakthi.’ On the whole it was a musical evening soaked in Saktham.