A captivating Kalyani and a soft-sailing Sahana still linger on. Saralaya Sisters Kavitha and Triveni presented these charming ragas with aesthetic elegance on the opening day of the pre-Music Festival Concert series.

The extensive alapana of Kalyani was divided between them, with Triveni leading it. The mandra sthayi sancharas delineated by Kavitha were soul-stirring, arousing deep emotion. Kalyani Shankar on the violin re-created every phase of the raga.

Enduko nee manasu of Tyagaraja was rendered with all its strong classical elements in tact. The sisters could give soul to the words of the saint – "Oh, Rama, why is it that your heart doesn’t melt on me? I do not know what my fault is." The neraval was at Ragarahita shri rama, followed by a few sparkling swara prastaras by the sisters.

Manakkal Sriram on the mridangam presented an appropriate thani.

Then, Triveni etched a soothing essay of Sahana. Kalyani Shankar’s version was strong and elegant. Tyagaraja’s Raghupathe Rama was rendered with the unusual charm that the saint has bestowed on this unique composition in Rupaka Tala.

An interesting aspect of their music is that they specialise in rendering rare kritis with effortless ease. Last time when I heard them singing, it was Rama rama kali kalusha virama in the rare Ramakali raga.

In this concert, they presented Mamava raghuveera of Dikshitar in Mahuri, which suggests similarities with Khambhodi raga. This piece, on Devipatnam is one of the five Kshetra kritis on Shri Rama. The two other Dikshitar kritis they sang were the Anandabhairavi Kamalamba Navavarana kriti and Anandamrithakarshini.

Kavitha carved out a beautiful alapana in Amritavarshini covering its entire range with full throated ease. On the violin, Kalyani brought out all its bhavas.

Sri Vadiraja’s Enu sukrutava madidalo in Nilambari brought out the spirit of the composition - "How fortunate are you, O Yashodha, you have been able to love and take care of Lord Krishna!"

The opening Bhairavi varnam itself promised a rich fare. It was followed by Papanasam Sivan’s Gajavadana. Dr. M Balamuralikrishna’s lilting Brindavani tillana and Paramacharya’s Maitrim bhajata provided a fitting finish to a wholesome concert.

That they have learnt the nuances of ragas from the great flautist S.P. Natarajan was evident in their rendition. Little wonder M.S. Subbulakshmi once specially invited them for a chamber performance at her residence!

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H. RamakrishnanDecember 27, 2011