B.V. Balasai's flute and U.P. Raju's mandolin were perfect complements.
The last day of the 21st annual cultural festival of Sharada Cultural Trust featured a jugalbandi of B.V. Balasai on the flute with U.P. Raju on the mandolin. They were accompanied by R. Ramesh on the mridangam and Tiruchy Murali on the ghatam.
Valachi vachi, the Navaragamalika varnam, was the first piece of the day. Gam Ganapathe, the kriti of Harekesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar in Hamsadwani, was polished off with excellent swaras. Pantuvarali was taken up for a detailed elaboration. The alapana was shared between the two of them. When one played the main role of elaborating the raga, the other closely followed playing the role of the accompanist. Many a time Raju's following in the lower octave resembled the beautiful strings of the veena and gave an indication of how things would have been in olden days before violin became a mandatory accompaniment. Balasai's melodious output enhanced the rakthi of the whole effort.
Ninnenera, the Thyagaraja krithi, was played with a detailed neraval in Vedasashtra and summed up with a full exercise of kalpanaswaras. Another of Muthaiah Bhagavathar's rare kritis, Sharavana Bhava in Pasupathipriya, was delivered with great verve. Special mention must be made of the exhilarating mandolin on the lower octaves of the chittaswaram.
A sober Bhagayanayya in Chandrajothi set the stage for the main piece of the day, Madyamavathi. The long alapana was again aptly shared between Balasai and Raju with each complementing the other. Ramakatha was dealt elaborately and crowned with neat swaras. This was followed by the tani by Ramesh and Murali which was noteworthy, both for its scholarship as well as enthusiasm.