Established and upcoming musicians performing at a cultural fete in Palakkad put up a good show.

A recently held cultural festival in Palakkad featured musicians who enchanted listeners without moving away from pristine classical music.

Nithyasree Mahadevan

It began impressively with an enchanting vocal concert by Nithyasree Mahadevan.

The start of her concert was somewhat perfunctory; however, she soon warmed up and came out with an outstanding alapana of Sunaadavinodini. Touching the panchamam and even shadjam in the upper octave, she painted a panoramic picture of the raga.

Choosing Mysore Vasudevachariar’s kriti ‘Devaathi Deva’ she embellished it with a garland of sparkling swaraprastharas. ‘Balakrishnan paadamalar’ (Dhanyasi, Sivan), ‘Hiranmayeem’ (Lalitha, Dikshitar) and ‘Mahura Madhura’ (Atana, Uthukadu Venkatakavi) were rendered soulfully .

An exquisite exposition of Bilahari, followed by the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Dorakuna’, suffixed with a robust niraval and glittering swarakorvais, was a sumptuous treat.

M.A. Krishnaswamy extended valuable support on the violin with his raga versions and swaraprastharas, while I. Sivakumar on the mridangam and Sivaramakrishnan on the ghatam provided adequate percussion support. They presented an enjoyable tani in Adi tala.

Palakkad R. Rama Prasad

It was enriching listening to a performance by Palakkad R. Rama Prasad, grandson of mridangam wizard Palghat Mani Iyer. The opening Saveri raga varnam ‘Sarasuta’ and the subsequent Tyagaraja kriti ‘Brochevarevara’ in Sriranjani set the ideal concert ambience. The vocalist then presented an authentic alapana of Kalyani and crowned it with a vivid portrayal of Swati Tirunal’s ‘Pankaja Lochana’, which was appended with a pleasing niraval and imaginative kalpanaswaras. He displayed his yen for aesthetics in his soulful rendition of ‘Chetasri Balakrishnam’ (Dwijayanthi, Dikshitar).

The depth of his virtuosity and manodharma was revealed in his brilliant delineation of Thodi. Following it up with a well-crafted tanam, he rendered a marvellous pallavi in praise of Lord Krishna (Adi tala, Khanda Nadai). The ragamalika swaras in Saama, Subhapantuvarali and Behag were steeped in pure classicism.

M. Rajeev’s violin accompaniment was top class; he excelled in his essays of Kalyani and Thodi.

Seasoned mridangam artiste Trichur Narendran showed his keen sense of laya throughout the performance. He was supported by Tripunithura Kannan (ghatam).

V.P. Raju and Nagamani

The husband and wife duo of V.P. Raju and Nagamani revealed their mastery on the mandolin in their absorbing performance. ‘Mahaganapathim’ (Natta, Dikshitar), ‘Entharo Mahanbhavulu’ (Sri, Tyagaraja) and ‘Raja Raja Srithe’ in the rare raga Niroshta (Muthiah Bhagavathar) rendered beautifully enabled them to sustain the momentum. Their portrayal of Vanaspathi and the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Pariyaachakama’ highlighted the beauty of the raga.

The duo was at their best in their descriptive elaboration of Kalyani, which was adorned with a plethora of interesting sangathis.

The interpretation of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Vaasudevayani’ and vivacious swaraprastharas were remarkable. They revelled in their speedy rendition of ‘Raghuvamsa Sudha’ (Kathanakuthoohalam, Patnam Subramanya Iyer).

Swaminathan’s (violin) accompaniment was splendid, marked by rich tonal effects. Palakkad Mahesh Kumar (mridangam) and Perukavu Sudheer (ghatam) put up a grand show with a tani, revealing their artistry.

Kalpathy K. Surayanarayan

Flautist Kalpathy K. Surayanarayan won laurels from the listeners. Starting with the varnam ‘Ninnukori’ in Vasantha, he played ‘Varavallabha’ (Hamsadhwani, GNB), ‘Gopalakapahi’ (Revagupthi, Swati Tirunal), ‘Garudagamana’ (Naagaswaraavali, Patnam Subramanya Iyer) and ‘Gaanamurthe’ (Ganamurthi, Tyagaraja) with admirable skill.

His graceful elaboration of Reethigowla and the melodious interpretation of Swati Tirunal’s ‘Paripaalayamam’, suffixed with tidy kalpanaswaras exuded melodious cadences.

His analytical elucidation of Kharaharapriya was lucid, projecting the raga bhava in full. The kriti was Tyagaraja’s ‘Pakkala Nilapati’, in which the flautist wove a delectable web of swara patterns. Kodunthirapully Subbaraman’s violin accompaniment was melody personified. Vadakara P.V. Anilkumar (mridangam) gave able support.

Mohana Sharma

Gifted with a mellifluous voice and a keen sense for aesthetics, Mohana Sharma presented a delightful vocal recital. Her judicious selections included both popular and rare kritis such as ‘Sidhi Arul’ (Natta, Neelakanta Sivan), ‘Chethasri Balakrishnam’ (Dwijawanti, Dikshitar), ‘Mayamma’ (Ranjani, M.D. Ramanathan) and so on.

Her exposition of Bhairavi, interspersed with fascinating sangathis, followed by bhava laden portrayal of Dikshitar’s ‘Baala gopla’ was outstanding.

Young Anoop Bhaskaran (violin) impressed the listeners with his accompaniment. Accompanists were Sai Prasad (mridangam) and T.R. Parameswaran (ghatam).

Ambikapuram G.K. Sivaraman

Ambikapuram G.K. Sivaraman’s concert was a fitting finale to the festival. Befitting the occasion, he chose quite a few kritis on Lord Krishna, including some Tamil songs.

The initial renditions, Begada varnam ‘Inthachalamu’, ‘Muddumomu’ (Surayakaantham – Tyagaraja), ‘Bhavayami’ ( Gopikavasantham – Dikshitar) formed a strong base for the rich fare to follow.

Sivaraman’s superb elaboration of Thodi, showcasing the varied shades of the raga won him accolades. His perspicuous portrayal of Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Krishnam Bhajamanasa’ and the copious flow of swarakalpanas revealed his vast manodharama and erudition.

V. Sindhu’s melodious violin accompaniment showcased her proficiency. Palakkad Ganesan handled the mridangam with the master’s touch; his sense of laya was noticeable in his brisk tani.

The cultural programme was held in connection with the Kumbabhishekam celebrations at Ambikapuram Krishna Temple.