Muthuswami Dikshtitar has left a rich treasure of unique kritis, each one presenting the full and accurate picture of the raga employed. To him raga was much more than a mere assembly of notes, but a venerable divine form. His Navagraha kritis are among his most famous ones. They are an index to his deep knowledge in Veda and astrology, apart from, of course, a lot of fine music. Carnatica brothers, K.N. Sasikiran and P. Ganesh, chose the one on Lord

Saniswara, ‘Divakarathanujam,’ in Yadukulakhambodi - apt for the day. Ganesh in his alapana drew a splendid sketch of the entire intrinsic beauty of this melodious raga. On the violin, M.A. Sundaresan with his Parur stamp brought out all its shades. The duo gave a powerful, yet melodious presentation of the kriti.

The main piece of the morning was a Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi, specially set, as a mark of respect to K.S. Venkataraman who passed away recently. Earlier they had announced that the entire concert was dedicated to him and that all the ragas and kritis would be those he used to like. Sasikiran delved deep into the realms of an expansive Kalyanavasantham in ragam and thanam. He showed his infinite capacity in creating pleasing and musical phrases.

Ganesh joined him half way in a ragamalika Tanam adding Sahana and Asaveri, while M.A. Sundaresan offered Saveri and Kedaragowla on the violin. That was a stunning exercise in fine melody by the three of them. The Pallavi was, ‘Sangeetha Kala Poashakar Undoa, Venkataramane Un Poal,’ set to Khanda jati Triputa. It had a lot of complicated, yet musical intricacies. In the swaras, Kalyani, Vasantha and Kalyanavasantham were presented. The thani offered by V. Kamalakara Rao (mridangam) and E.M. Subramaniam (ghatam) was of a high standard. The former used all his experience and expertise to present a few wonderful korvai, especially in thisram. And, his playing was the very definition for accompaniment.

Starting the concert with the Durbar varnam, the duo rendered the Bowli kriti of Oothukkadu, ‘Kshanameva.’ The Suddha Bangala kriti of Tyagaraja, ‘Ramabhakti Samrajya’ was followed by a short swaraprastara. They also presented ‘Neevedanaagaana,’ in Saranga. They wound up the recital with ‘Venkatachalanilayam,’ ‘Muralidhara Gopala’ and a lilting Bindumalini thillana of Ravikiran. The lyrics of the charanam in thillana sounded like lovely jatis.

(ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com)