Such purity is rare to come across.
It was almost a family affair. On the dais were the renowned ganjira vidwan K.S. Rangachary, his daughters R. Vijayalakshmi, R. Chitra (Mambalam Sisters) and violin vidushi Dr. R Hemalatha. Was the mridangam vidwan the odd man out? Yes and no. Dr. K. Ashok belongs to a worthy lineage as well. He is the grand disciple of Palani Subramania Pillai.
In theirconcert at Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, Mambalam Sisters proved worthy of their well-earned reputation. They are blessed with good voices. Both of them had tutelage under B.V. Raman-B.V. Lakshmanan. They sing in total unison, and have manodharma in abundance.
Vijayalakshmi’s Thodi alapana will be remembered by the discerning listener for its pristine quality. With total unison with the sruti, she wove a silky, ornamental tapestry.
What the audience got was alapana of high quality and expansive dimensions. Hemalatha readily responded with a graceful and dynamic delineation.
The all-time favourite of Tyagaraja, ‘Kaddannuvariki’ arrived as if like a caparisoned elephant. Niraval at ‘Paddhu Thappaka Bhajiyinje’ and the kalpanaswaras enhanced the innate beauty of the regal kriti. Vijayalakshmi offered a lovely concluding swara korvai.
K. Ashok and veteran K.S. Rangachary‘s thani especially the misra nadai was interesting.
Chitra’s generous Madhyamavathi alapana created an auspicious mood. They sang Dikshitar’s ‘Dharmasamvardhini’ with devotion and dedication, with niraval and swaras at ‘Madhava Sodhari.’
The concert commenced with the Saveri varnam, followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Bagayanayya’ (Chandrajyothi) and the day’s Tiruppavai in Sankarabharanam (Misra Chapu).
Arunachala Kavirayar’s Huseni piece, ‘Eppadi Manam Thuninthatho’, describing Sita’s pangs of separation created the mood of pathos.
They rendered kalpanaswaras for Patnam Subramania Iyer’s ‘Abhimanamennadu’ (Begada). They wound up the interesting concert with ‘Garuda Garuda,’ a composition of Suguna Purushothaman in Garudadhwani and Sadasiva Brahmendra’s ‘Pibare Ramarasam.’
The sisters have roots in the traditions of the past. I am sure they will shine in the firmament of Carnatic music without falling into the general pattern.