The Saralaya sisters Kavitha and Triveni have fine-tuned their skill to such an extent that they presented an aesthetically appealing and musically delightful vocal recital. Triveni etched an elaborate, but exquisite Thodi that had every phase of that taga coming alive. And, B.K. Raghu on the violin succeeded in re-creating the same serene mood. The sisters rendered

Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Krishnam Bhaja Manasa,’ and in the concluding segment took the audience to the precincts of Sri Guruvayurappan. The niraval at the usual ‘Sanghu Chakragadha’ was apt and neat. Their Swara exchanges were lively, as though they were in an animated conversation with each other. The thani by Renuka Prasad on the mridangam was aesthetically appealing, especially the tisram.

Dharmavathi was another raga that they took up in detail. Kavitha etched the raga step by step and gave it a fine shape. Mysore Vasudevachar’s ‘Bhajanaseya Radha’ was the chosen kriti. Though Kannada was his mother tongue, he has composed most, if not all of his kritis in Telugu or Sanskrit. He was a direct disciple of Patnam Subramania Iyer. Vasudevachar was an accomplished singer as well. The sisters took up kalpanaswaras at ‘Niravadhi Sukha.’

MLV’s favourite ‘Saranam Bhava’ of Narayana Tirtha came off well. So did the ‘Dinamani Vamsa’ of Tyagaraja and ‘Innu Daya Barathe’ of Sri Purandaradasa.

The Swara korvais in ‘Gam Ganapathe’ were beautifully handled by them. The Thilang exposition of ‘Gayathi Vanamali’ was just exquisite. This critic felt it was better than the oft heard one. The sisters had opened the recital with the lilting Shanmukhapriya varnam

composed by M. Balamuralikrishna. They concluded it, inter alia with his thillana in Brindavani.

They presented a Dikshitar kriti ‘Rama Rama Kali Kalusha Virama,’ in the rare Ramakali raga. In the Avarohana, it has both Prathi Madhyama and Suddha Madhyama. The Roopaka Tala kriti, though well executed, brought down the overall tempo of the brilliant recital.

No wonder, Papanasam Sivan was called the Tamil Tyagaiyar. Some of his kritis have the depth in meaning, rich diction, aptness of the raga and tala and above all, the Sangita anubhava or the ideal musical experience.

‘Karthikeya Gangeya Gauri Thanaya’ in Thodi is such a magnificent composition. Its very structure is outstanding. This critic had had the occasion to listen to M.S. Subbulakshmi rendering this piece soulfully at the Sikkil Singaravelar Temple in the early sixties. M.S. sang all the three charanas.

After a detailed delineation that covered every possible sanchara of the regal raga, S.P. Ramh rendered this kriti brilliantly. If his raga essay touched the entire canvas of Thodi through all three sthayis, the rendering of the kriti itself took the listeners to the temples of Lord Muruga. He sang the charanam commencing with ‘Mal Maruga Shanmugha’ with all possible sangatis. Kalpanaswaras brought out the attractive shades. M.R. Gopinath on

the violin essayed an alapana in his own style, revealing the unique facets of the raga, which the instrument brings forth. Ramh’s swaraprastharas were at the pallavi itself.

The thani by B. Ganapathiraman on the mridangam was a rhythmic delight. The tisra nadai that he presented was precise and aesthetic. His accompaniment too, enriched the music.

Earlier Ramh created a serene, pensive mood through the Mukhari alapana. The response on the violin evoked even more poignancy. Tyagaraja’s all time favourite, ‘Entha Ninnae,’ the very grammar for Mukhari, set in Rupaka Tala was the chosen kriti. The niraval and swaras were at ‘Kanulara.’ There was such a healthy competition between the vocalist and violinist that the audience got the cream of the raga.

The Ritigowla came out in its charming form in ‘Thathvamariya Tharama,’ while Sahana in all its musical nuances emerged vibrantly in ‘Ee Vasudha’ of Tyagaraja. The chittaswaras for the latter were elegantly presented. The Hamsanadham raga alapana and the krithi ‘Banturiti’ were an illustration of the vocalist’s grip over all departments of music. The nireval and swaras

were at ‘Ramanama Mane.’ The Swara korvais ending with rishabham, especially ri ma ri sa r; sa ni pa ni sa ri; ri pa ma ri, were so musical that Hamsanadham filled the entire auditorium. A short alapana preceded Dikshitar’s ‘Annapurne’ in Sama. If the Brindavanasaranga piece ‘Kaliyugavaradan’ evoked emotions of devotion, the Bagesri piece ‘Govindamiha’ of Narayana Tirtha was a combination of poignancy and Bhakti.

Ramh commenced his concert with the Lalgudi varnam in Bowli, ‘Arunodhayame,’ a bright beginning for a morning concert. He touched the upper Panchamam with ease. Again, he concluded the recital with the Lalgudi tillana in Mand.

Path breaking innovations are indications of a vibrant art. If the advent of violin in the Carnatic music world was a turning point, Tavil accompaniment to violin was another. Who can forget the pioneering Kunnakkudi-Valayappatti combination? Adding mridangam to it is yet another experiment. That is what Ganesh and Kumaresh did and was successful too.

Haridwaramangalam A.K. Pazhanivel and Parupalli Phalgun formed the new pair. Palanivel’s dexterity and creativity were matched by the latter’s agility and alertness. They covered all aspects of the Tala Padhdhathi. Every natai, each korvai and all aruthis were musical too. If Pazhanivel had to be restrained, since he was accompanying violin, Phalgun is by nature, soft. His modulations on the mridangam were a rare treat. His tempo matched his vidwath. Their thani will be a subject of discussion in music circles for a long time to come.

Ganesh and Kumaresh presented a brilliant Purvikalyani. The fine raga delineation was by Ganesh. The duo chose ‘Meenakshi Memudam’ of Dikshitar as the main piece and for niraval, ‘Veena Gaana Dasa Gamaka Kriye.’ The Swaraprastharas were a sheer mathematical wizardry. It could have been nicer had it been a bit shorter.

Ragam and Tanam in Begada was shared by the two. Simultaneous exposition in higher and lower octaves by the brothers was pleasing. With two stalwarts in the rhythm department, they could have played Tanam with laya accompaniment.

‘Iruvar Inainthirunthal Vetri Kaanalaam - Sruthiyum Layamum Poala,’ in Khanda Jati Triputai was a delightful definition for a Pallavi. The rendering was in Ragamalika - Varali, Kalyanavasantham, Hemantha (a combination of Mohanam and Vasanthi), Revathi and Hamsanadham. The thani had thunder and gentle rains.

There were two laptops (perhaps with sound cards) on the stage in front of the violinists, an indication that technology has taken the prime seat in classical music as well.

Other highlights of the concert were a soothing Vasantha Bhairavi sketch by Ganesh (for ‘Nee Dayaradha’) and a lilting alapana by Kumaresh in Sri Ranjani (for Dikshithar’s ‘Sri Dhum Durge’ in Khanda Chapu.) The kalpanaswara in the latter had several musical korvais. The Hindolam piece, ‘Ithu Bhagya Ithu Bhagya’ of Purandaradasa and the Pathanjali sloka demonstrated their total control over laya.

The Thodi varnam gave a lilting start to the three hour concert. Tyagaraja’s ‘Rama Ninne Nammina’ (Mohanam), a breezy ‘Ninnada Nela’ (Kannada), the western notes, a tillana and a bhajan were offered. The concluding three-in-one piece (‘Bhagyada Lakshmi,’ ‘Harivaraasanam’ and ‘Nagumomu’) was an exceptionally pleasing finale to a concert that had sound and light.

(ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com)