Sushma Somasekar was more appealing when she sang in a slower gait. Clear diction was the strength of Bhairavi-Malavi.
Sushma Somasekar began her concert with ‘Pahimam Sri Rajarajeswari' in Natta, a kriti by Syama Sastri. Most part of the song was in madhyamakala and so also were the kalpanaswaras. After ‘Ramabhakti Samrajyam' in Suddhabangala, she took up the elaboration of Poorvikalyani.
Sushma has a good voice and range; but she seemed to be in a hurry most of the time, whether in this alapana or the main item, Madhyamavati. Her sancharas came hurtling down in such quick succession so much so that they seemed to get crowded and lose clarity, and also often affected the pitch both in the alapanas and niravals. When she slowed down a little in the alapanas, it was a lot more appealing. She had good ideas in developing the ragas; but the effect was upset because of her style of singing; full throated singing is one thing and yelling is quite another.
B. Ananthakrishnan's effort on the violin was rather disjointed without logical development in Poorvikalyani. His later essays were better. The kriti taken up in Poorvikalyani was ‘Jnanamosakarada' with swaras for ‘Paramathmudu.' A long Tamil verse ‘Pathuviral Modiram' was rendered in ragamalika of Kanada, Hamsanandi, Bilahari and Hindolam followed by Dikshitar's Hindolam kriti ‘Neerajakshi.' The vinyasas of these ragas were quite gripping. ‘Kumaran Taal Paninde Thudhi' came before the main Madhyamavati prefixing ‘Adikisukhamu'; the charanam ‘Neekedaya' was taken up for niraval and kalpanaswaras.
N.C. Bharadwaj, the talented youngster, provided good support on the mridangam and also came out with an interesting thani. Sushma's hurried singing continued even in the tukkadas such as ‘Kandanaal Mudalaay' and ‘Sri Jagadeeswri Durga.'
Both Bhairavi and Malavi have strong voices and a fairly good reach at both ends. But better modulation especially when singing at tarasthayi would make listening more pleasant. They began their afternoon concert with the Sriraga varnam in Adi Tala and ‘Pranamamyaham' in Gowla. Malavi's elaboration of Aandolika was a little too long and made straying into allied ragas inevitable; it also taxed her voice with which she already seemed to have problems. Akkarai Swarnalatha on the violin proved a good foil. Tyagaraja's ‘Ragasudharasa' was followed by kalpanaswaras for the pallavi.
The main raga Poorvikalyani was taken up for detailing by Bhairavi, which was quite good as was the effort by Swarnalatha. The sisters could avoid being adventurous when they have trouble singing at the top octave or reduce their sruti at least. The chosen kriti was ‘Ninnuvina' with niraval and swaras for ‘Chintadeerchi.' One plus point is their proper splitting of words in all the compositions. A brief thani was rendered by mridangam artist Kumbakonam Swaminathan, who also provided good support to the entire concert. Earlier Bhairavi and Malavi sang ‘Ramanukku Mannan' in Hindolam and the final piece was ‘Enna Solli Azhaithal' in Kanada.
(R.Vedavalli, who performed next, has her own mike arrangement. The technicians started bringing in their equipment half way through the sisters' concert; it was intimidating to the singers and disturbing to the audience. May be the veteran will look at this from the point of view of up-and-coming artists.)