Veena and vocals by two youngsters from the South were thoroughly enjoyed by Delhi audiences

Veena, the queen of instruments, has great potential to produce any musical sound. If the artiste is adept at exploiting the potential of this instrument, and has sound ideas (read ‘traditional in approach and sans gimmicks), the recital would certainly be a delightful experience. This is how things turned out the other day at the India International Centre during the veena recital of the Chennai-based artiste Jayalakshmi Sekhar.

Jayalakshmi started off with an Adi tala varnam in raga Neelambari. Though this piece did not exactly provide a bright start, the recital picked up with the evergreen “Vathapi Ganapathim”, a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar in raga Hamsadhwani.

The kalpana swaras including the finishing korvai provided a glimpse of her talents in creative music. While presenting Papanasam Sivan's “Ma Ramanan” in raga Hindolam, she brought out the emotive aspects of the raga as well as of the lyrics, despite having only an instrument to convey their import.

Jayalakshmi also handled well the central piece of her recital, a Tyagaraja composition, “Enati nomu phalamo” in raga Bhairavi. Earlier, she delineated the raga, bringing its characteristic features to the fore. The melodious taanam that followed was delightful.

Traditionally, in a vocal concert or a concert of any other instrument, the taanam is followed by a pallavi. However, in a veena recital, this trend need not be adhered to, and any befitting composition can follow. Jayalakshmi took up this popular kriti.

Further improvisations were in the form of creative neraval of the phrase “Sundaresa sugunabrinda dasarathanandana aravinda nayana pavana” and equally creative swara formats. In the post-tani session, Jayalakshmi included a javali and a tillana, besides Oothukaadu Venkatasubbiar's “Alai payude” in raga Kanada, making even this session a lively one.

Delhi's M.V. Chandrasekhar provided excellent support on the mridangam. His understanding support at various places, including during the neraval, was pleasing. His tani avartanam (percussion solo) in Adi tala too was enjoyable. Another noteworthy feature of the concert was that artistes were enjoying themselves and acknowledging each other when they excelled.

Jayalakshmi Sekhar has learnt Veena from Pudukottai Jayarama Iyer and Sripada Pinakapani. She has also learnt violin, flute, piano and guitar, besides vocal music.

Vocal recital

Elsewhere, at a concert organised by Delhi Muththamizh Peravai at the auditorium of Delhi Karnataka Sangam, this past weekend, another South India-based artiste, Saketharaman, enthralled the audience with his vocal recital. Saketharaman's central piece, a Tamil composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, “Thiruvadi saranam” in raga Kamboji was presented well and in a detailed manner.

In his detailed delineation he brought the features of the raga to the fore. Further improvisations, namely, neraval of the phrase “Aduttu vanda ennai tallalagadu arahara venru shonnalum podado” and swara prastaras, were again detailed affairs. The manodharma talents of the artiste came to the fore.

Akkarai Subbulakshmi on the violin and Arjun Kumar on the mridangam provided excellent support to Saketharaman. In fact the trio exhibited tremendous understanding with each other, and their team work was visible in the overall quality of the recital. Arjun Kumar played a captivating tani avartanam in Adi tala.

Saketharaman is a disciple of renowned maestro Lalgudi Jayaraman and younger brother of popular artiste Vishaka Hari.

On the whole, it was a delightful week for the rasikas of Carnatic music in the capital.