Sowkhyam and spontaneity played a vital role in Pattabhiram Pandit’s concert.

Can the mridangam sing? A queer question for most of us know it as an instrument providing rhythmic support for music concerts. That evening at Pattabhiram Pandit’s concert, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman proved that the mridangam could sing too. He was his usual exuberant self with a judicious mixture of vigorous blows, gentle pats on the chapu and optimum use of the topi (base). His arudhis virtually sang the anupallavi or charanam of the kritis not once but every time. What more could Pattabhiram Pandit ask for, with such an inspired playing by a veteran.

After the opening Ganesha kriti ‘Vallabha Nayakasya’ (Dikshitar) in Begada packed with an array of swaras, Pandit settled down to exhibit his music with absolute vishranthi. Sowkhiyam ruled his delineation of Vachaspathi. A sampoorna raga that permits any number of combinations yet spontaneity ruled the roost while Pandit sang. His intuitive advances were sheer joy to the rasikas. A perfect alignment with sruti added to the lustre. Mysore Nagaraj, on the violin, was equally expressive in his replies. The niraval phase for ‘Paraatpara Parameswara’ (Adi-Sivan) was a combination of slow and fast-paced phrases. Pandit has absolute control on the kalapramanam which will take him places.

The climax in the swara segment was marked by lively exchanges among the foursome on stage. Cleverly Pandit chose vilmba speed to execute ‘Nannu Vidachi’ (Ritigowla-Mishram-Tyagaraja). This snail’s pace gave him ample scope to give value to its grandeur. A disciple of vidwan Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Pandit’s next was a spirited rendition of Tyagaraja’s ‘Anupama Gunaambudhi’ (Atana-Kandam). The clarity of the kalpanaswaras, despite the speed, has to be specially mentioned.

Pattabhiram Pandit’s manodharma made him choose Khamas as the main. At least it appeared so. Thereafter it was an offering of the various colours of the raga namely open (Akaaram), semi-closed (Ukaaram), fully closed (Makaaram).

Mysore Nagaraj did not lag behind in continuing with the meditative atmosphere created by Pandit. Mysore Vasudevachar’s Adi tala kriti ‘Brochevarevarura’ is one of the best compositions where the raga and the lyrics are seamlessly sewed.

Pandit chose a medium slow pace for the kriti and did full justice. Umayalpuram again was in his element. Musical value was stressed in the kalapanaswara segment than arithmetics. The thani by Umyalpuram was marked by interesting new korvais. Mixture of Nadais did make a difference keeping the audience engaged.