That a lot of thought had gone into choosing the ragas was evident in Chitraveena Ravikiran's magnetic concert. There was dignity and grace in Vijay Siva's performance.

Two string instruments, one with rounded, subtle notes and the other sharp and finer ones, vied with each other to create a soothing, delicate and soft music to the percussion of similar nature from mridangam and ghatam; all these took the audience to the realm of ethereal music.

‘Chitraveena' Ravikiran was extremely sensitive in his playing and at no juncture did he try to go overboard either in the musical form or in exhibiting his creativity. The entire programme was well thought out and every artist contributed his share without much ado. More than the main Ragam Tanam Pallavi suite in Khambodi, Lalitha, the first raga taken up for expansion and delivery, walked away with all honours for its melody and Ravikiran's mastery. Lalitha always offers good scope for the artist who approaches it with a vision; Ravikiran's interpretation was simply inspiring with ample gamakam at the appropriate phrases thus unfolding the exceptional magnetism of the raga. Dikshitar's ‘Hiranmayeem Lakshmim' is another gem that touches the principal prayogas in many ways colourfully.

The swara strains at the usual line ‘Sangeetha Vadya Vinodhini' created a superb dialogue between Ravikiran and Akkarai Subhalakshmi on the violin and T.V. Gopalakrishnan on the mridangam. TVG surprised the rasikas with his feather touch adding more delicacy to the swara strings created by Ravikiran on his chitraveena.

‘O Jagadamba' in Anandabhairavi, another pricey addition from the chest of Syama Sastri was given an adjunct of swaras leading to the thani. The rhythmic forays between Gopalakrishnan and Tirupanitura Radhakrishnan were deliberated with subtle but strong strokes. The raga alapana of Khambodi was pleasingly set for the ragamalika tanam in Pantuvarali, Natakurinji and Kapi. The pallavi was set on Khanda Jati Triputa Talam, Kanda nadai went as ‘Gopala Gokulabala Gopika Samukalola.' A significant inclusion of Oothukadu kriti was ‘Prasanna Gopalakrishnam' in Dwijavanti set to misra ata talam with a raga preface. Ravikiran was thoughtful enough to sing the pallavi of this new composition and the pallavi of the RTP for the benefit of the audience. This practice needs to be followed by all instrumentalists.

Akkarai Subhalakshmi's talents need no new introduction. However, her mature approach pitching mainly on the melodic aspects of Lalitha, Dwijavanti, Khambodi and the brief Natakurinji in the tanam section need special mention. ‘Brahma Kadikana Padamu' of Annamacharya in Mukhari and ‘Ennai Nee Maravadhe' in Amrutavarshini by Dandapani Desikar were catchy fillers.

When a musician recognises that classical music is a vehicle for the composers to express their emotion towards the Almighty and therefore, the sahitya and sahitya bhava play vital roles in the interpretation, the expressions of the artist assume a different posture.

Vijay Siva, known for his musical discipline, gave a vocal recital of distinction. The raga essays, niraval and kalpanaswaras were handled with a high level of dignity and grace, and one could hardly expect any extravaganza there. Bhairavi and the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Rakshabettare' took the centre stage in his concert. The raga vinyasa was directed at every stage through phrases exuding the raga bhava in a definitive style. Even a micro phrase in the opening line was loaded with the strong shade of Bhairavi indicating the involvement, experience and perception of the artist. The raga essay from the lower registers to the middle and upper segments allowed the listener to enjoy the tenor of Bhairavi at every stage. The tempo was rightly set to the mood of the chosen composition. After the crystal clear delivery of the kriti, Vijay Siva selected the phrase ‘Sangeetha Priya Tyagaraja Geyudaina' for judicial niraval and a swaraprastara with precision. With converging swara strands on the rishabam, Vijay made a finely set korvai and brought it to a finish. The thani was a display of intense virtuosity. Tiruchi Sankaran on the mridangam and V. Suresh on the ghatam exchanged breathtaking rhythmic patterns. The other two brief but significant constituents of Vijay Siva's programme were the Gamanasrama number ‘Idi Neeku Nyaayama' by Mysore Vasudevachar (misra chapu) and the precise Ragam Tanam Pallavi in Natakurinji in Adi (‘Satyananda Sadananda Nityananda Govinda'). The mela raga Gamanasrama was expertly rendered with raga treatise and swaras. The aesthetic hues of Natakurinji were brought forth in an otherwise tepid ragam and tanam. R.K. Sriramkumar always shares a great rapport with the singer. Their musical conversations were fascinating. However, it was slightly surprising to hear Sriramkumar (also) expressing a little force in some places in the raga essays. ‘Pahi Sri Giriraja' in Anandabhairavi gave a fresh flavour since this particular number of Syama Sastri is less heard in the concert circuit while ‘Rama Neepai' in Kedaram (Tyagaraja) gave a gentle start to the programme. Vijay Siva's concert was an ideal example of how to frame and execute a concert effectively for those young aspirants sitting on the stage and listening with rapt attention.