Rasikas at the 42nd anniversary celebrations of Ragapriya, held in Madurai, have been on a roller coaster ride as eminent musicians rendered a wide range of songs.

The inaugural performance, at the 42nd anniversary celebrations of Ragapriya, held in Madurai, began with T.M. Krishna singing Patnam Subramanya Iyer's ‘Intha Kante' in Kaanada, embellished with impressive kalpanaswaras. A similar swara prayogam for ‘Maaye Tum Pahi' was equally vigorous. This song was in raga tarangini, which, Krishna explained, was a mela raga in Dikshitar's parampara. Arun Prakash on the mridangam kept up with the brisk pace of the singer.

Papanasam Sivan's ‘Ka Va Va' in Varali was followed by a lively Bilahari alapana. This provided an opportunity for violinist R. Hemalatha to repeat the variety of phrases sung and to prove her skill at improvisation, for Tyagaraja's ‘Naa Jeevadhara.' The singer provided further variety by singing the ragam and tanam in Kamavardhini to the pallavi, ‘Parthathum Manam Mayanginen' and mentioned that the pallavi was written by the mridangam player Arun Prakash, who also lightened up the proceedings by playing a western beat to Dikshitar's nottuswaram beginning, ‘Rama Janardhana' at the conclusion of the concert.

Popular kritis

The father-daughter duo, M. Chandrasekharan and Bharathi, played several popular kritis on the violin, such as Dikshitar's ‘Vatapi Ganapathim' in Hamsadhwani, Tyagaraja's ‘Dharini Telusukonti' in Suddha Saveri and Syama Sastri's ‘Marivere' in Anandhabhairavi. The songs were rendered in the first speed, with focus on the delineation of the pallavi and then picked up pace with jubilant and enthusiastic rendering of kalpanaswaras. While the father took the lead with expertise, the daughter rallied on to keep up with the nuances he produced. On audience's request, they played ‘Ganamoorthe' in the raga with the same name, modelled on the veena recital of Emani Shankara Sastry, and ‘Theeratha Vilaiyattu Pillai' based on Lalgudi Jayaraman's rendering. The lead violinist was very appreciative of his percussionists Umayalpuram Mali on the mridangam and Mohan Ram on the ghatam for their performance that day.

Sanjay Subrahmanyan sang two Tyagaraja kritis in succession, the first being in Sanskrit, in the gentle strains of Saveri and the second in Telugu in the strident tones of Durbar, beginning with the words, ‘Janakaja Sametha' and ‘Yochana Kamala' respectively. Neyveli Venkatesh on the mridangam played a vital role right from the start. The singer's delineation of the Tiruppavai, ‘Keesu Keesenrengum' showed how extensively the signature phrases of Bhairavi could be elaborated upon. An array of his playful expressions on the single word ‘Osai' had the audience smiling in appreciation. He then sang an emotive alapana in Kanakangi for the song ‘Ullam Urugi Urugi' by Suddhananda Bharati, in which he was ably supported by Varadarajan on the violin. A very appealing raga alapana and a lively tanam in Lalita were sung for ‘Nannu Brova Lalitha.' The final pieces included Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar's ‘Kalilo Hari Smarana' in Kapi and ‘Kaani Nilam Vendum' by Bharatiyar in ragamalika.

Unnikrishnan began his concert with Sadhasiva Brahmendrar's ‘Sarasijanabha' in Nattai and followed it up with many well-known ragas such as Vasanta, Pantuvarali and Sankarabharanam. He was accompanied by Vittal Ramamoorthy on the violin, whose alapana of Sankarabharanam was pleasing, B. Harikumar on the mridangam, who added energy and drama to the singer's expressions and Alathur T. Rajaganesh whose performance has never failed to please the listeners in Madurai. Unni Krishnan sang Sivan's ‘Andavane Unnai Nambinen' in Shanmukhapriya and took ‘Thandavamadum,' for niraval. The concluding pieces were ‘Aravinda Lochanane' by Ambujam Krishna in Neethimathi and ‘Pibare Ramarasam' by Sadhasiva Brahmendrar in Ahirbhairavi.

Short and simple

The Malladi Brothers, Sriram Prasad and Ravikumar, began their concert with an Ata tala varnam in Kalyani followed by a short and simple rendition of Dikshitar's ‘Gajananayutham' in Vekavahini. The Tyagaraja kriti in Dhanyasi, ‘Syama Sundara' was followed by a brilliant introduction in Sriranjani to ‘Marubalka' and an equally attractive Mohanam enlivened the proceeding in the song ‘Narasimha' by Dikshitar. A detailed delineation of raga Ragupriya was presented for the Annamacharya kriti set to music by their guru Sripada Pinakapani. Arunachala Kavirayar's ‘Kannara Kandene' in Mukhari provided variety. The audience was appreciative of the Khambodi alapana and the RTP in Sindhu Bhairavi. Enthusiastic play on the ghatam by Tiruchi S. Murali and on the mridangam by Palladam Ravi along with Embar S. Kannan on the violin, particularly during the RTP, provided excellent support.

Ranjani and Gayatri sang the Sri Raga varnam ‘Sami Ninne' followed by the Dikshitar kriti ‘Brahadambika' in Vasanta in the deep tones characteristic of Carnatic singing. Gayatri's confident alapana in Manoranjani for Tyagaraja's ‘Atukaradhani' was well complemented by the violin play of Charumathi Raghuram, who tried to recreate the bhava produced by the singer. When Ranjani sang the alapana and kalpanaswaras in Bhairavi, the bass tones of Anirudh Athreya's ganjira contrasted the high pitched tone of Manoj Siva's mridangam and created a pleasing effect. The singers went on to render, ‘Ennai Nee Maravadhe' in Amritavarshini before they launched into an alapana in Sahana, followed by a tanam. The sisters concluded the concert by singing a couple of abhangs and devotional songs.

After ‘Pahimam Sri Raja' in Janaranjani by Vaidyanatha Iyer and ‘Bakthuni' in Begada by Tyagaraja, Nithyasree sang ‘Pazhamo,' a song about the rare treasure called ‘Bhagavatham,' written by Oothukkadu Venkatakavi. The violinist M.A. Krishnaswami made good use of the creative opportunities and was uniformly excellent. Nithyasree sang an alapana in Kiravani for Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Innamum Sandeham' and the percussionists I. Sivakumar on the mridangam and Alathur Rajaganesh on the ganjira played well during the solo. A rhythmic tanam in Sunadavinodini was a good contrast to the raga alapana for the pallavi, ‘Deva Jagannatha.' She then sang Purandaradasa's ‘Thamboori Gettidava' in Sindhubhairavi and ‘Aaye Giridhara,' a Hindustani composition by Swati Tirunal in Puriyadanashree raga. Nithyasree concluded with ‘Mayil Meedhu' by Kolkata Shankar in Charukesi and a tillana in Dwijavanti.