Thematic: Lakshmi and Savitha performed without any over indulgence on their part.

Thematic concerts seem to gain significance nowadays. So there are artists using their ingenuity to research and identify certain special aspects in compositions and try to present them with a common thread of idea in focus. Lakshmi Rangarajan and Savitha Narasimhan presented a concert on ‘Sugandam’ (fragrance). While our compositions are basically structured on bhakti, they naturally connect them with the temples, the God and his/her fascinating disposition with embellishments. Generally, we associate the fragrance of incense, sandalwood, camphor, flowers and chimes of bells with an aura of purity and devotion. These aspects have reflected and referred in many compositions of our illustrious composers and the singers were ably assisted by Gowri Ramnarayan in the choice of selection.

Opening the concert with a couple of slokas from ‘Sowndaryalahari,’ where the aromatic bath of the Goddess was described, the duo presented ‘Sri Mathrubootham’ of Dikshitar in Kannada. Here in the charanam, a swara string was added in the line ‘Vasitha Nava Javanthi Pushpa,’ the favourite of Lord Siva. The raga essay of Mayamalavagowla was neatly drawn by Savitha Narasimhan for the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Tulasi Dala’ where the composer lists a host of flowers which he wishes to offer Rama along with the sacred ‘tulasi.’ The exhaustive niraval on ‘Sarseeruha Punnaha’ created the right impact sans swaras. This was followed by ‘Cheta Sri Balakrishnam’ in Dwijavanti by Dikshitar which described the striking and scented presence of Krishna in the last stanza of the song. The swara bouquet was added on ‘Nava Thulasivana.’ A comparatively fast ‘Pahi Sada Pankajaksha’ in Mukhari of Swati Tirunal preceded Lakshmi’s Ritigowla treatise. A finely etched Ritigowla provided a beautiful preface to Othukadu Venkatakavi’s rhythmic ‘Brindavana Nilaye.’

Catchy akaras

Hamir Kalyani was offered the centrestage, with the exposition shared by both Lakshmi and Savitha. The long swirling phrases and the catchy akaras integrated in the right proportion built up a serene ambience. Can there be a better choice than Dikshitar’s ‘Parimala Ranganatham’ detailing the aura of the Lord lying on a bed? The poignant niraval and swaras were attached to the ‘Sugantha Vipinantharanga.’ Azhwar’s ‘Karpooram Narumo’ in Khamas came towards the end.

Was there a sense of completely laid back presentation on the whole? Well, it was. The theme ‘fragrance’ needs to permeate slowly and steadily and ultimately should leave the listener filled with a smell and satisfaction without any heady mix. Lakshmi and Savitha performed without any over indulgence in their parts. However, they could have given a brief prelude to each kriti emphasising the reason for its selection. Satisfactory support came from R. Hemalatha on the violin, J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on the ganjira. The thani avartanam was precisely structured and dynamically executed. The programme was held as the part of the Annual Music Drama Festival of Hamasadhwani at the Youth Hostel, Adyar.