Vasantholsavam, a music fete in Thrissur, featured seasoned artistes who treated rasikas to a sumptuous spread of Carnatic music.

‘Vasantha Rithu’ (spring) is a time for joy when Nature is at her best. Sree Seetharamaswami Temple in Thrissur has had a great tradition of celebrating this season with a rich cultural fete — ‘Vasantholsavam’.

This year the aural feast featured top-notch artistes.

Ranjani-Gayathri

The event commenced with a concert by Ranjani and Gayathri. Be it compositions in slow tempo or racy ones, they were keen on keeping up the ‘kalapramana’ of the concert as a whole and each composition individually.

An energetic alapana of Bilahari, an elegant, effervescent presentation of Kharaharapriya, Huseni and Chenchukambhoji, or raga Simhendramadhyamam for ‘Rama Rama Gunaseema’ of Swati Tirunal, the mainstay of the session, the sisters made sure that the audience was enthralled by their rendering.

Trivandrum Sampath (violin) showcased his mastery over his instrument. Manoj Siva (mridangam) and B.S. Purushothaman (ganjira) designed a tani with chaturasra nadai in ‘keezhkalam’ and ‘madhyamakalam’, tisra nadai and koraippu in tisra nadai.

Pantula Rama

Each raga is a distinct musical entity by itself and has well-defined characteristics. Keeping this in mind, Pantula Rama adhered to tradition during raga expositions. Her masterly exposition of raga Lalitha for Tygaraja’s ‘Etla dorakitivo Rama’, in particular, touched melodic heights. The composition has two versions in vogue; the other one is in Vasantha.

The major plank of the recital was Mohanam – Tygaraja’s ‘Nannu Palimpa’. Majestic improvisations at niraval and kalpanaswaras were highlights of the elaborated pieces.

M.S.N. Murthy’s (violin) fingers added to the weighty presentations. While Jayakrishnan’s (mridangam) tani was ubiquitous, it did not seem difficult for Sreejith (ghatam) to quickly respond to the patterns suggested by Jayakrishnan.

Palakkad K.L. Sreeram

Revealing his fascination with vivadi ragas, Sreeram presented Rasali – ‘Aparadhamula norwa’ from the treatise ‘Swararnavam’ of Narada – and Kosalam, ‘Kakkuka Shanmugha neeye’. Idappilly Ajithkumar (violin) stole the show with his bowing techniques and elongated gamakas, especially for the main item, which was ‘Merusamana’ in Mayamalavagoula.

Trivandrum Balaji’s elegance while applying gumukkus and tani gave enduring pleasure with specific design and quality. Tani was a mixture of tisram, chaturasram and khandam, then koraippu in tisra nadai and mohra in chaturasra nadai. Udupi Sreekanth (ganjira) and Payyannur Govinda Prasad (morsing) also lent commendable support.

Nithyasree Mahadevan

Nithyasree was not the connoisseur’s choice of this fete. She opened with the late violin maestro Lalgudi G. Jayaraman’s varnam in Charukeshi. For ‘Chakkani Raja’, the main attraction, the alapana of Kharaharapriya in the upper tetra-chord of the mid octave was cinematic; it was obviously disjointed. C.S. Anuroop (violin), Thrissur K.M.S. Mani (mridangam), Vazhappilly Krishnakumar (ghatam) and Kalamandalam Shaiju (morsing) accompanied her.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan

The select choice of songs that included ‘Brochevarevere’ in Sriranjini, ‘O Rajeevaksha' in Arabhi, two songs in Kambhoji in succession – ‘Adum daivam’ and ‘Emayya Rama’ - and ‘Sarasa samamridu' in Gowrimanohari) was classic in every way.

In the development of Gowrimanohari and Bahudhari for ragam tanam pallavi, the sancharas were effortlessly traversed through the three octaves.

S. Varadarajan’s (violin) replies at several points in Gowrimanohari garnered applause from the audience. Neyveli Venkatesh (mridangam) and Tripunithura Radhakrishnan (ghatam) moved on the same wave length.

Malladi Brothers

Malladi Brothers blended technique with vibrancy as they do more often than not. Their perception contributed depth to ragas while the songs were rendered in their baritone but pleasant voice. Clear diction and articulation proved that they had internalised the import of the songs and thus there was perfection in delivery.

Among the kritis presented were ‘Nadhasudharasam’ in Arabhi and ‘Deva Deva Jagadeesa’ in Poorvikalyani. Their way of handling the Bilahari kriti ‘Doraguna iduvanti’ emphasised the lines ‘Rama brahma tanayudau Thyagaraju ta paaduchunuchaga’, which was portrayed with a fine eye for the nuances.

Violinist Mahadeva Sharma’s simple straightforward and delicate presentation of the ragas was familiar, but the imagery he evoked was impressive.

V.V. Ramanamurthy (mridangam) played a superb tani with highly complicated patterns. The progressions comprised khandam, khada tisram, khanda misram and khanda sankeernam (45 syllables per mode of reckoning). It requires immense technical capacity, precision and creative faculty of a high order to effortlessly play this.

Udupi Sreedhar on the ghatam was excellence personified. He knows when to remain subdued and when to open up.

Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath

During raga development of Kamavardhani for ‘Appa Rama bhakthi’ and Kharaharapriya for ‘Rama niyeda’, every twist and turn in the sancharas was given an enchanting touch. But when it came to kalpanaswara prastaras, it was not a breeze of swaras but a gale, which went against musical ethics and aesthetics.

Thiruvarur Bhakthavalsalam on the mridangam devotedly supported Nagaraj and Manjunath. Guru Prasanna on the ganjira provided noteworthy support. His playing technique represented the bonding of his fingers to the instrument.