A couple of vocal concerts at Brahma Gana Sabha, were significant for sticking to the classical parameters. One was that of Shertalai Renganatha Sarma and the other that of Radha Parthasarathy. It was a full-throated singing by Sarma who has a strong voice. After the Begada varnam, some of the items he chose were rare on the concert platform. Varasikhivahana a composition of Tyagaraja in raga Supradeepam, was presented along with kalpanaswaras.

The ‘Abhayamba Vibhakti’ kriti in Kedaragowla, which is supposed to be sung in vilamba kalam, was handled in Madhyama kalam which stole the beauty of the raga as also the lyrics by Muthuswami Dikshitar. The alapana and kalapanaswaras in Hamirkalyani by Sarma and the violin accompanist Mullaivasal Chandramouli were quite interesting. The chosen song was Gangeyavasanatha of Swati Tirunal, again a rarely heard piece. Then he started to sing ‘Pattividuvaradu’ in Manjari. But before one could think of enjoying it (as it was heard after a long time) it was hurtled along by the team comprising Sarma, Chandramouli, Shertalai Ananthakrishnan on the mridangam and Tiruchi Murali on the ghatam resulting in a noisy (con)fusion.

Sarma took sufficient time to develop the main raga Khambodi, touching all its characteristic points, but there was no new ideas to be heard either from him or the violinist. Sri Subrahmanyaya was dealt with in a proper tempo, along with niraval and swarams for ‘Vasavadisakaladeva.’ This was followed by a thani by Ananthakrishnan and Murali.

Apart from the navaragamalika varnam ‘Valachivachi,’ Radha Parthasarathy chose kritis typical of Semmangudi School. It was nice to come across the Siddharanjani kriti Nadathanumanisam and ‘Anupamagunambudi in Atana. A decent alapana of Vasantha was rendered by Radha followed by Rahul on the violin. Hariharaputhram was a neat presentation with swaras for the pallavi. Saravanabhava Enum in Shanmukhapriya preceded the main item Madhyamavathi. The raga was developed logically in which her strength in akara singing stood out, otherwise it was a standard fare. Tyagaraja’s ‘Rama Katha Sudharasa was rendered flawlessly with niraval and swarams at ‘Bhamamani.’ A lively thani resulted from guru Ragavendra on the mridangam, who cooperated well during the entire concert.

‘Kannanai Paadu Maname in Yamankalyani was the finale. The question lingers – is a faithful rendering of what one has been taught enough to make a concert a good one? What about the artist’s own input?

The main item in Ragini Sri’s concert was Kalyani. The raga alapana was reasonably good. The effort by Thirumarugal Dineshkumar was better than his earlier one in Surutti, where he seemed to lose his way. ‘Biranabrovayithe’ with niraval and swaras for ‘Ni Padapankajamu’ was competent. Ragini Sri handled the tisra nadai with ease, but on the whole there appeared to be a lack of seriousness to her approach to the concert. The thani by N.C. Bharadwaj was brief due perhaps to lack of time. Earlier Ragini Sri began with a varnam in Hindolam, followed by Siddhivinayakam in Shanmukhapriya with swarams at ‘Prasiddhagananayakam.’

After Sobillu Sapthaswara she sang a passable Surutti prefixing ‘Sri Venkatagirisam. She began the final piece ‘Irakkam Varamal in Behag mimicking a child’s voice! What was the idea? Taking the audience for a ride?

Dharini has a strong voice with good reach. Perhaps because her concert had to begin late, her first item itself was ‘Marubalka’ in Sriranjani with niraval and swarams at ‘Dariderigi.’ This was followed by a neatly rendered ‘Vidulagu’ in Mayamalavagowla. Her alapana and that of K.P. Nandhini on the violin of Kedaragowla were reasonably good. The Tamizh song ‘Samikku Sari Evare’ had a lengthy niraval and swarams for ‘Syama Sundara.’ After ‘Anandamruthakarshini’ in Amritavarshini, came the main item Dhanyasi. It was a decent elaboration of the raga again by both of them. The kriti ‘Dyaname was sung without hurry and the swaras were taken for the pallavi. Arun Ganesh who supported Dharini’s efforts well also provided a good thani. The final item was Asaimugam Marandu Poche.’

As usual Ranjani and Gayathri performed to a packed hall along with M.R. Gopinath on the violin, Delhi Sairam on the mridangam and K.V. Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira. After the Khamas raga varnam and Papanasam Sivan’s Nattai raga composition ‘Umaiyorbagane, a soulful ‘Meenalochana Brova’ in Dhanyasi was rendered with an exhaustive niraval and swaram for ‘Kamapalini.’ It takes a lot of self-confidence to venture into alapanas of ‘Saranga Tharangini’ without straying into Hamsanadam and Sarasangi into Charukesi. But they did and successfully too. The first one was presented well by Ranjani before taking up GNB’s composition ‘Samanarahite.’ Kanada was developed in a relaxed manner by Gayatri and when she dwelt on the lower octave it was indeed very pleasant to listen to. Tyagaraja’s ‘Sukhi Evvaro’ was a neat presentation which found step by step building up of swaras for the pallavi, particularly by Gayatri. Gopinath proved equal to them both in the raga essay and swaras.

This was followed by a spirited thani by the percussionists. Sairam’s thoughtful support through the concert in fact enhanced the overall effect. The Chayanattai kriti ‘Idi Samayamura’ preceded the RTP. Here came the tight rope walking of elaborating Sarasangi.

Logical development by Ranjani was impressive and again at the lower octave it was attractive, but it was Gayatri who took it to greater heights. She did a Grahabedam into Ranjani raga too. The thanam by both were very fetching. The pallavi was set to Chathusrajati Jampa talam in khanda nadai.

In the swara segment the sisters rendered ragamalika consisting of ragas such as Sriranjani, Bahudari, Hamsanandi and Sindubhairavi. The RTP section was aesthetically appealing. A couple of viruthams prefixed the Behag song ‘Idhuthano Thillaisthalam.’ The end piece was an abhang in Misramalkaunz.

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Lakshmi VenkatramanDecember 27, 2011