Music and entertainment were glued together in the efforts of Ganesh-Kumaresh.
It is believed that for Carnatic music to attract non-Indian audience (and even younger Indian audience), it needs to be presented differently. Ganesh and Kumaresh offered their interpretation of such a presentation.
The concert had Carnatic music at the core garnished lavishly with western violin streaks, chords (the duo playing different notes at the same time), a four-octave range as in western solos, alternating speed crescendos and leisurely treads, percussive innovations (there were three percussion accompaniments, thavil included) and of course, powerful camaraderie on stage among the artists. Music and entertainment were glued together. A happy intersection of the orthodoxy and modernity seemed to have been realised so much that this review could as well be appearing alongside articls on world music.
To be fair to the duo, their presentation of the ragas and kritis was well within the Carnatic boundaries, with uncorrupted interpretation of Khambodi (RTP in tisra tripudai) and Lathangi by the brothers. Khambodi by Ganesh evoked poignant emotions sans frenzied fingering. The tanam had interesting elements as Ganesh produced the ‘pluck’ effect with the bow – again glimpsed without over-indulgence. Ragamalika niravals and swaras flowed from the two bows like a colourful fountain.
The concert started briskly with ‘Evari Bodana’ (Abhogi varnam) and ‘Kanu Kontini’ (Bilahari, Tyagaraja) followed by copy-book violin style swaras. Andolika is a raga that seems to sound better when played on an instrument and Ganesh/Kumaresh’s ‘Sevikka Vendum’ (Muthu Thandavar), though brief, was pleasing. There was an avoidable hint of Kalyani in the Lathangi raga, but the later shades of the raga by Kumaresh evolved sweetly. The song ‘Swamiye Charanam Abhayam’ (adi talam, tisra gati) had a bit of gearshifts with chatusra gati phrases in the charanam. The brothers also engaged in a tala vadya duet with the percussionists in the swara korvais of ‘Swamiye Charanam.’ These effects anchored their laya credentials well.
Anantha R. Krishnan played dual instruments – the tabla and the mridangam, alternately, pairing up with the popular Haridwaramangalam Palanivel (thavil). While dexterity of playing two instruments simultaneously is a praiseworthy skill, the incremental effect of tabla was minimal. Palanivel offered a more subdued slant to accompanying in an indoor setting that helped guard the sensitive listening needs. The thani had to be a blockbuster, with capable percussionists handling three different instruments. The thrust was on intelligent mix of nadais and eduppus for the most part, with only a short crowning via a high speed cracker effect.