Chitravina Ravikiran and Mandolin Shrinivas were in tune with each other and together created a serene mood at The Hindu's Jugalbandi Festival, 2013

“Twenty years ago, speaking in a morning panel discussion in New Delhi, M.L. Vasanthakumari confessed that the younger musicians had a much higher IQ and far wider sources of inspiration than the older ones. Making a specific reference to a couple of outstanding youngsters, she described (Chitravina) Ravikiran’s music as traditional, and that of (Mandolin) Shrinivas as a revolution.

“But the difference was only in their choice of the native and alien instruments and their distinct styles of performance. In outlook and spirit, both of them were as traditional as they were modern, as they continue to be even today…”

I couldn't help recalling those impressions as I sat in the Sir Mutha Venkatasubbarao auditorium the other day, watching these young veterans sitting side-by-side and performing together in a public concert for the first time, and wondering how it was going to be. Which was going to be the dominant element? — Ravikiran's pure and orthodox classical style or Shrinivas’s mysterious blend of exotic and native colours?

In the event, it turned out that there was no dominant style at all! Both the vidwans, whose mutual respect and admiration visibly governed the whole performance, adopted an extremely restrained approach, and seemed anxious to find a common and compatible touch. Accordingly, neither of them made any attempt to show off his extraordinary technical brilliance, and together they achieved a sense of serene contemplation.

The selection of ragas and songs seemed eminently suitable for this purpose, a meditative mood being set up by Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kriti ‘Jagadaananda Kaaraka’ in Nattai, and Dikshitar’s ‘Maamava Meenakshi’ in Varali. The highlight of the concert was an innovative ragam-tanam-pallavi in two ragas, Kalyani and Kapi, the lines of the pallavi being sung initially by Ravikiran, who had composed them. The number titled ‘Kalyani-Kapi-Suite’ provided plenty of scope for them to shine individually and together, in classical terms. Fine threads of Kapi and Kalyani were intricately woven into a delicate fabric of exquisite beauty.

V. Praveen and Tiruchi K. Murali played the mridangam and the ghatam with considerable restraint, providing an unobtrusive backdrop. I must say Murali's ghatam has a sonorous tone which is quite remarkable. But the longish percussion solo session did dissipate the intense concentration of the audience.

What followed the tani was a routine spell, which came as an anti-climax after the spellbinding RTP.