The presentation by Priya Sisters was dynamic, while speed and melody were the hallmarks of violin duo Mysore Nagaraj and Manjunath.
The concerts of Priya Sisters will never allow the listener to fall into slumber at any point; they are always agile, their presentations dynamic and their choices, invariably lively. Starting with ‘Vanajaksha', the varnam in Nayaki by Rudrapatnam Venkataramayya, the duo moved to ‘Karunai Seivai Gajarajamukha' in Hamsadhwani by Papanasam Sivan. The Begada raga briefly essayed by Haripriya carried more of akaras and brigas, their forte. Syama Sastri's ‘Kamakshi Amba' lined with swaras, was also presented in a swift mode.
The highlight of the concert was an expansive Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Thodi set to Kanda Jati Ata talam. The pallavi was a pretty long one to meet the tala which went as ‘Saravananai Muruganai Guhanai Ninai…' Well, the raga exposition here was mainly taken care of by Haripriya who once again deployed racy brigas. Yet, Haripriya could touch some of the special proyagas exclusive to Thodi and follow it with a crisp tanam shared by Shanmughapriya.
Stimulating swaras are Priya Sisters' speciality. So here too, the swara part was ingeniously done, adding extra flavour using a ragamalika string of Mohanam, Hamsanandi and Kapi.
The trikalam was done after completing the swarakorvai and the pallavi was rounded off well. Purvikalyani also had a fair share in their programme with a breezy raga expose by both. The kriti ‘Meenakshi Memudam' of Dikshitar was slow, steady and satisfying; a cerebral niraval at ‘Meenalochani Pasamochani Manini' with a well-knit swara exchange extending to kuraippu with shadjam as focal note, brought in the grand finale. ‘Lavanya Rama' in Purnashadjam and ‘Orajupuchu' in Kanndagowla, both by Tyagaraja, were placed before and after the thani avartanam respectively.
V.V. Srinivasa Rao followed the Sisters more or less in the same vein focussing more on the speed. Neyveli Skandasubramaniam and Madipakkam Murali on the mridangam and ghatam sounded a tad loud. Blame it on the balancing!
One could see and experience two extremities that could be reached by competent instrumentalists. Incredible gymnastics and soul-stirring melody were offered in the same concert by Mysore M. Nagaraj and M. Manjunath. The Darbar varnam ‘Chalamela' and a sober preface of Mohanam followed by ‘Evarura Ninnuvina' made the opening relaxed and comfortable. Even during the initial stages of the alapana for Amritavarshini, Nagaraj's touches were elegant. But as it progressed, it fell into the ambush of clipped, harsh jumps and jerky phrases completely jettisoning the melodious face of Amritavarshini to a corner. The redemption came when they played the kriti ‘Anandamritakarshini' of Dikshitar but the swara exercise again turned into a percussion-backed melee leading to a noisy crescendo.
The thoroughly exasperated soul got rejuvenated surprisingly when Manjunath launched into Thodi. It was difficult to believe one's ears because what flowed out of the violin was something incredible -- soft, sensitive, and a completely gamaka oriented picture of Thodi. ‘Koluva Maragatha' of Tyagaraja was at a galloping speed without compromise on the quality. The niraval at ‘Tamburachekoni' started slowly but ended with a plethora of jet set swaras.
The Ragam Tanam Pallavi was given a lion's share with the selection of Kapi. Here too, the siblings demonstrated their virtuosity exploiting the vakra swaras and varying notes of Kapi providing unlimited freedom for permutations and combinations. The raga ultimately sounded excellent, supported by an eloquent tanam. The pallavi in Kanda Triputa was fortunately sung by Manjunath: ‘Parameswari Sundari Sada Namasthe Kumara Janani Amba' was elaborated with niraval and ragamalika swaras in Natakurinji, Saveri, Mukhari and Sama.
The clouds started gathering slowly and significantly as Yella Venkateswara Rao geared up for a thani and the thunderstorm struck once again this time in the company of Giridhar Udupa on the ghatam. But here it was delectable.