‘Sri Ganapati’ in raga Sourashtra and Adi tala heralded the concert of K. Hariprasad with appropriate flourish, with the support of Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan on the violin and Mysore N. Sudharshan on the mridangam. The singer's rich bass voice was well complemented by Vijayaraghavan's smooth and powerful bowing in Muthuswamy Dikshitar's kriti ‘Sri Parthasarathina’ in raga Suddhadhanyasi and Rupaka tala, delivered in madhyama kala. The 11-minute number concluded with a spray of kalpanaswaras at the pallavi and led to Swati Tirunal's kriti ‘Gopa Nandana’ in raga Bhushavali, Adi talam.
Begada raga was elaborated through madhyasthayi in madhyamakala.
Hariprasad's voice was pleasant and controlled after the ten minutes that took him to settle down. The 14-minute alapana session produced a profusion of ‘ravai sancharas’ from Hariprasad and gamakas from Vijayaraghavan, were soothing. A further 20 minutes were devoted to rendering Kuppuswamy Iyer's piece 'Anudinamu kaavu maiya..' in madhyama kala Rupaka talam and the succeeding sprightly bit of niraval and kalpanaswaram around the charanam line ‘Kanakanakuchu.’ Sudharshan's choice of phrases for accompanying the musicians on running lines, filling gaps between the successive segments of a continuing kriti and later in the thani avartanam had the flavour of the thavil, to make for a differently pleasant listening appeal.
The artist made a clear statement that this marked the end of Phase 1 of his concert by interposing two short items here. The choice of Patnam Subrahmania Iyer's 'Marivera Dikkevaraiya, Rama' in Shanmukhapriya, Adi and Tyagaraja's 'Enta Vedukondu, O Raghava' in Saraswati Manohari and Adi talam was very apt. The appropriateness of their positioning was accentuated by the sincere and soulful rendition, as if they were the mainstay of the concert, though the two brisk compositions took hardly 15 minutes.
It is this kind of dedication that speaks volumes of an artist's attitude to the concert stage. Raga Simhendramadhyamam spread her net of serene charm on the serious rasikas. The next thirteen minutes witnessed the hall getting almost into deep meditation, thanks to the efforts of Hariprasad and Vijayaraghavan.
The thanam was earnestly developed through the three sthayis, to introduce the short pallavi in a double-beat, medium-paced Khandajati Triputa talam at a half-point take off with 'Nee Paadamule Gatiyeni Nammi Sri Ramachandra.' The customary ‘trikaala' in chatusram and misram, with aesthetically conceived swara exchanges gave way to the thani avartanam. The notable feature was what appeared to be the thavil type of phrasing and delivery of the sollus, emphasising each syllable with a deliberate loudness, at once novel and still exquisite. The recital concluded with a verse in raga Kaapi and Adi talam on Lord Rama ‘Aravinda Padamalar Nogumo.’
Seriousness and sincerity worked to stabilise the recital which appeared to waver in the
definition of its theme at start and displayed occasional lapses during the fast phase of the
alapana in Begada, to wrap up and offer a wholesome programme.
Ranjani Hebbar drew the maximum mileage from her opening ‘Viriboni’, varnam (Bilahari) in simple two kaalams in pallavi and anupallavi and a medium pace in the charanam. Ranjani Ramakrishnan's violin went promptly into sympathetic rhythm and melody and the galloping beats of Peravall Bhaskar's mridangam to ‘Cheeru Nau’ should have prompted any listener to follow suit. The second item, Tyagaraja's ‘Janakiramana’ in Suddhaseemantinee, Adi, was again an instant inspirer. The suave and gentle singing suited the ethos of the composition, to which the soft bowing on the violin and the subdued and padded strokes on the percussion added to complete the picture of tranquillity that the composer depicts (‘Gaana Lola Ghana Tamaala Neela’) . The charanam, ‘Rakta Nalina Dalanayana’ was set by the poet to hold a slight pause at ‘dala’ (ending at half a matra after the third finger in the tala) - a temptation most artists cannot resist as an opening for turning the situation into a tedious 'laya vinyasam.' Happily. Ranjani Hebbar steered clear and appropriately sustained the original mood. In the third piece, the humming of the notes 'dha (manthara)-sa-ri-ma-ma....’ etched out raga Sama distinctly. The violin did not miss a single nuance or curve in the singer's three-minute sanchara, which stressed the manthara sthayi, appropriate to this raga, gliding along to draw in the higher notes with a serpentine grace. In fast or slow passages, Sama was conspicuous by her presence. The kriti again was Tyagaraja's – ‘Shaantamu Leka, Saukhyamu Ledu" in Adi tala; the impeccable diction and the perfect modulation of voice helped to suggest the meaning ‘No bliss without inner peace.’
Briga and ravai appeared not so much as discrete elements in the singing, as elements embedded into the rendition of the kriti, forming an integral part of it, to enrich the listening (and one supposes, the rendering) experience. In the Kalyani that followed, the sweeps over the octave were executed with the effortless precision of a trapeze artist - neither straining to reach the note set as target nor bumping clumsily into it. The violin, preferring the 'izhaippu' style of playing, banked on controlling the movement of mostly one finger, to the 'briga' style, calling for controlling the positioning of all three fingers The team presented Syama Sastri's ‘Himadrisute’ in the optional three-beat rupakam taking up on samam in the second beat so as to have ‘maam’ of the sahityam fall on a beat. Nearly an hour from start (two-thirds of the total concert time) had passed and one became aware that the menu was being deprived of spice in the form of brisk krtis, sancharas and a modicum of sting. Unfortunately not in the Kalyani essay nor later was there any scope for infusing these, given the choices of what followed: a brief five-minute, though competent, thani, with several ringing peals that underscored the laya, with tisra and misra gatis roped in. Hindolam, sung in the north Indian Malkauns style of gamaka and sanchara (‘Ananta Rupa Gauri Suta’), viruttam in Suddha-dhanyasi, with a Purandaradasar composition, concluding with a tillana in raga Bhagyasree and Adi tala.