The annual Sree Neelakanta Sivan music fete featured some memorable concerts.

Renowned Carnatic musicians and up-and-coming artistes weaved magic with ragas at the 38th annual ‘Neelakanta Sivan Sangeetha Aradhana Mahotsavam’ . The 12-day-long music fete, held at Karamana in Thiruvananthapuram, in memory of late classical composer Neelakanta Sivan, is organised by the Sree Neelakanta Sivan Sangeeta Sabha Trust. Here are some highlights…

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

The concert by the veteran singer was captivating. Sanjay opened the concert with an Ada tala varnam. He rendered ‘Satthaleni Dhinnamulu’ in Naganandini (30th melakartha raga) with ease and perfection. The unique character of the Naganandini was explored through lilting swaras adorning the kriti. An abstract of Husseini raga was tagged to ‘Eppadi manam’ set to Mischra chapu. The muthaippu at the end of the kriti by Nanjil Arul on the mridangam was catchy. Begada raga visthara received a comprehensive treatment by both the singer and Mahadeva Sharma on the violin and was well-received by the rasikas. Tagged to it was ‘Anudinamu’ that contained detailed improvisations in the swara passages that exposed the grandeur of the scale. The main kriti ‘Gananaya desika’ in Rishabhapriya had an evocative charanam portion that describes the ‘saptaswaras’. The swara section that was set in fiery Sanjay-style, culminated in an entertaining taniavarthanam by Arul and Tripunithura Radhakrishnan on the ghatam.

Amrutha Venkatesh

The young singer opened the concert with a varnam in Saveri and followed it up with ‘Raghunayaka’ in Hamsadhwani. An absorbing delineation of Shubhapanthuvarali by the singer and Avaneeswaram S. R. Vinu on the violin was tagged to the kriti ‘Shri Satyanarayana’. Although the modulations and dynamics were fine, lack of embellishments left the rendering rather dull. A brief but melodious preface to Nattakurunji was tagged to the Neelakanta Sivan composition ‘Jaya Jaya Kailasa’. The extensive and evocative niraval in ‘Kannala Kandene’ in Mukhari was a remarkable effort. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Paramapurusha’ in Lalithapanchamam raga with fluent swaras, set to khanda chapu, was the interim kriti. A descriptive Mohanam raga essay by Amrutha and Vinu was tagged to the main kriti, ‘Kapali’. Palakkad Maheshkumar on the mridangam and P.L. Sudheer on the ghatam gave excellent support. The post-taniavarthanam songs were also well-received.

Abhishek Raghuram

He opened the concert with a varnam ‘Vanajakshi’ in Kalyani. ‘Lochana’ in Darbar with rhythmic swaras was well-received. An essay of Jaganmohini raga culminated in an effortless and energetic rendition of ‘Shobilu saptaswara’ containing a superb swara section. The Reethigowla raga delineation was a perfect treat for the rasikas. Swift sangathis flowed in a visthara that was soaked in melody. ‘Oraru mughane’ had a niraval filled with enlivening elements that enraptured the rasikas. Shankaranarayanan on the mridangam and K.V Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira played splendidly during the kriti. The ragam thanam pallavi was a combination of Kalyani and Keervani ragas. Although it was set in traditional style, the extremely long session for raga and thanam did not contain any major aspects that were engrossing. M.S. Ananthakrishnan contributed beautifully on the violin.

(The second part of this review will be featured in the next issue.)

K. Gayathri

The artiste, who was performing at the fete for the first time, rose well above the expectations of the rasikas with her scintillating performance. Gayathri’s concert reflected the youngster’s keenness to adhere to tradition keeping up to the contemporary taste.

Her unconventional rendering of ‘Sidhi Arul’ in Natta revealed the nuances of the raga. She followed it with ‘Merusamana’, a stately composition in Mayamalavagowla. She established her talent as a singer with the technically-aesthetic manodharma that essayed rarely explored facets of the raga. ‘Pahi Jagajanani’ in Vachaspathi was the main composition of the concert. The eloquent raga alapana with swift, impressive phrases and captivating niraval and swara patterns charmed rasikas. A complex ragam tanam pallavi set to Tisra roopakam in Bhairavi was rendered effortlessly, and suffused with bhava and technical excellence. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Aliveni’ was presented with commendable diction.

The singer wowed the audience by demonstrating ‘dwitala avadhanam’ (presenting two different talas on different hands) through a Thirupugazh in Poorvi Kalyani; a complex feat, imbibed from her guru Suguna Purushothaman. The singer was complemented on the violin by Padma Krishnan, and supported on the mridangam and the ghatam by K.M.S. Mani and Ennakkad Maheshwaran, respectively.

Adoor Sudarsanan

The singer put up a remarkable concert marked by his distinctive style of singing and intellectual excellence. He flagged off the concert with ‘Sree Mahaganapathi’ in Sowrashtram set to Misra Chapu followed by a crisp rendition of ‘Varalakshmi Neeye’ in Salaga Bhairavi. ‘Entu Vedukondu’ in Saraswathi Manohari and ‘Ananada Natamaduvar’ in Poorvi Kalyani were rendered with zest, and intricately braided with expressive yet intellectual swaras and niraval passages. The raga visthara of Kamboji was well crafted with vibrant yet soulful manoeuvres, excellently reciprocated on the violin. It was followed by ‘Evarimata’. The succinct phrasing of the niraval and skilfully crafted swaras were a highlight of his rendition. His voice traversed between octaves with effortless ease during the manodharma. A ragam tanam pallavi featuring a combination of Mohanam and Saveri was presented with an elaborate raga alapana, followed by alternating typical patterns accentuating each raga’s prominence. ‘Baro Krishnayya’ and ‘Manasa Sancharare’ were the concluding pieces of the concert. S.R. Rajasree’s accompaniment on the violin was worth appreciation. Mridangam by Kodunthirapully Parameswaran was exemplary and he was wonderfully supported on the ganjira by Udupi Sreekanth.

Pattabhiram Pandit

Pandit started off with ‘Viriboni’ followed by an impressive rendition of ‘Nee Kela Dayaradu’ in Sarasangi. He rendered ‘Mundu Venuka’ in Darbar with chaste, subtly exposing the soul of the composition. A vibrant rendition of the raga ‘Poorvi Kalyani’ with mid-paced phrases was followed by an erudite exposition of the same on the violin by Ramanujacharyalu. Pandit presented the kriti ‘Deva Deva Jagadeeswara’ with mesmerising support on the mridangam by virtuoso Mannargudi Easwaran, with smoothening sarvalaghu patterns. The concert’s pace kept the audience enchanted, with inclusions such as ‘Hecharika’ in Yedukula Kamboji and ‘Anupama’ in Atana. His intuitive rendition of Sudha Saveri and a melodically cadenced tanam was a prelude to ‘Janani Pahi’ of Swathi Thirunal – the main feature of the concert. The rhythmic innovation in niraval and swara portions and the constant interaction of the singer with the accompanists was a treat to watch. Pandit floored the audience in the tani with his layam and intricate nuances with equally enthralling replies by Guruprasanna on the ganjira. ‘Navasidhi Petralum’ of Neelakanta Sivan was elating and lilting. It was followed by Thirupugazh. The concert was a study on exceptional team effort to keep the audience in musical ecstasy.

Vijay Siva

The vocalist, who has always been a torch-bearer of classicism, showered the audience with music in its highest order. A highly disciplined musician, he explored each composition with utmost chaste, reaching the soul of the listeners. A varnam in Mohanam was followed by a brisk recital of ‘Tulasidala’ in Mayamalavagowla. The laconic niraval and swara phrasings eloquently exposed the heart of the scale. The scintillating delineation of ‘Saranga’ was tagged to ‘Emi dova’ of Tyagaraja. The raga alapana of Kamboji was a connoisseur’s delight followed by an equally competent reciprocation by Amrita Murali on the violin. ‘Thiruvadi Charanam’ of Gopalakrishna Bharathi was neatly and expressively rendered, with perfect diction. His recital was saturated with life and soul that left a lasting imprint on the rasikas. A ragam thanam pallavi in Natabhairavi was a highlight of the concert. Swift phrases ornately carved out the essence of the scale and a serene paced madhayama-kala thanam soothed the listeners. The pallavi was beautifully and elaborately exposed in Natabhairavi, Bhairavi and Anandabhairavi followed by a dignified tani by Manoj Siva on mridangam and Vazhappally Krishnakumar on ghatam. The virutam in Khamas followed by ‘Theduvatheppo’ was refreshingly splendid.