The concerts of Unnikrishnan and Ranjani-Gayatri were enhanced by accompanists.
Unnikrishnan's concert took off with Saveri ragam as prelude to the ‘Sarasuda' varnam. After an acoustics problem was fixed, he continued with a Neelakanta Sivan kriti with niraval and swaram, followed by ‘Sogasujuda Tarama' in Kannadagowla.
Next came an elaborate Simhendra Madhyama alapana rendered beautifully and the kriti chosen was Papanasam Sivan's ‘Nin charana Malare.' ‘Paramapurusha' (Vasanta) was pacy with a spell of kalpana swaras.
Charukesi (RTP) was developed carefully to reveal all its splendour. The pallavi “Kaana Aayiram Kan Vendum Pazhani Malai Muruganai” set to Kanta jathi Triputa talam was followed by ragamalika swaras keeping the tempo intact.
Violinist Sriram Kumar, who faithfully shadowed the vocalist, gave a fitting reply. His raga vinyasams of both Simhendra madhyamam and Charukesi were good, played with great intensity. P. Sureshkumar (mridangam) and Ghatam Kartik had a field day with the thani avartanam. That there was no exodus during the thani itself is an indicator. The singer signed off with a few tukkadas including “Radha Samedha” embellished Unni style, “Chuttum vizhi chudar” and a Thillana.
With perfect accompanists, there was not a dull moment in the concert. Unnikrishnan, however, needs to pay more attention in presenting sahitya. The sahityam of the Neelakanta Sivan kriti could not be understood at all. The speciality of vocal is the lyric, which should never be sacrificed.
Gayatri's exposition of Kalyanavasantham was the highlight of the programme of Ranjani and Gayatri. It was developed step-by-step to reach a blissful crescendo. A neat presentation of Tyagaraja kriti ‘Nadaloludai' with niraval and swaram followed, with both engaging in a healthy competition.
Bhava indeed is the soul of Carnatic music, but laya is no less important; the sisters need to look into this aspect.
The main raga chosen was Sankarabharanam, the initial alapana by Ranjani, was continued and concluded by Gayatri. Though it was elaborate, the quintessence of the raga was not brought out; phrases with long kaarvais which form the backbone of this raga, rarely appreared. Hence the impact of this majestic ghana raga was lost. The Syama Sastri kriti “Sarojadalanetri,” was followed with niraval and swaram.
“Chandrasekara Isa” in Sindu Bhairavi was preceded by an exquisite virutham; the ragas chosen were Purvikalyani, Kanada and Sindubhairavi and the essence of these ragas were thrown in. The Sant Tukaram Abhang was full of energy.
The sisters did not find much support from the violinist Mysore Srikanth, who could neither match their niraval nor swaram. His raga essays, however, were satisfying. This young violinist needs to remember that he is playing second fiddle literally when he accompanies a vocalist. His role is to be supportive and follow the main artist smoothly without overshooting.
Manoj Siva (mridangam) and K.V. Subramaniam (ghatam) deserve kudos for playing their roles well. All through the concert they played supportively. Their understanding came to the fore in the crisp and engrossing thani.