The raga's beauty was better showcased when the playing was slower.
Varalakshmi Anandkumar was a victim of the Music Season syndrome -- sore throat. Two Tyagaraja compositions marked the beginning of her concert – ‘Sri Ganapathi' in Sowrashtram and ‘Nenarunchara' in Simhavahini. Her Bhairavi raga essay was traditional in approach. K.J. Dilip's effort on the violin was like a superfast express, the grandeur of the raga being lost. ‘Chintayamam' was rendered without hurry and included all the sangatis. After a pleasant ‘Maaramanan' in Hindolam, the main raga Charukesi was taken up. It was developed in a steady manner. Dilip's essay was effective this time as he played at a slower tempo. ‘Kripayapalaya' was the chosen kriti. The swaras had some interesting combinations. Manakkal Sriram on the mridangam followed his own sruti; his thani, which was quite ordinary, could have been shorter.
These days, ‘sowkyam' seems to be taking a back seat in many concerts. Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna's was no exception. 'Ganarajena', a Dikshitar kriti in Arabhi, was rendered too fast. ‘Arulavendum Thaaye' in Saramathi followed. The Pantuvarali raga alapana too was sung at super speed, giving listeners no chance to get involved. Usha Rajagopalan on the violin came up with a neat version. ‘Saramegani' followed with lively swarakalpana. After the Chandrajyoti kriti ‘Bagayanayaa,' the main raga Begada was taken up for elaboration. It is not as if Balamurali lacks talent or knowledge; it is the manner of delivery. All the characteristic sancharas of Begada did appear but in quick succession, so much so it was more like a rattle.
Tyagaraja's ‘Nadopasana' was fairly good, with niraval and swaras. Usha kept pace with the vocalist well. Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar on the mridangam and Kartick on the ghatam made their presence felt throughout and the somewhat short thani. Balamurali seemed too conscious of the time and finished with sufficient time left for tukkadas. ‘Mariyada' in Suratti, ‘Jagadeesapancha' in Nadanamakriya and ‘Teurvadeppo Nenje' in Khamas were in fact the best parts of the performance.