The recital of Bombay Sisters was, as always, an aural treat. The gayaki style of flautist Vijayagopal came to the fore.

The music of Bombay Sisters is ageless. They owe it to their sound training under the giant Musiri, the 45-year-record as disciples of T. K. Govinda Rao and father Chidambara Iyer’s iron rule (coffee and breakfast, only after practice).

Singing together is not easy. Practice is a must for perfect synchronisation. The recital of Bombay Sisters stood out for pure classicism and long concert experience. C. Saroja’s leisurely elaboration of Madhyamavati covered the three sthayis. In every phrase, she brought out the soul of the raga. The fast paced phrases traversing between the upper and middle sthayis were particularly charming.

S.P. Ananthapadmanabha (violin) rose to the occasion and played equal to the vocalists.

The sisters rendered ‘Ramakathasudha’ of Tyagaraja with its innate beauty in tact. Niraval and swaras were at the anupallavi, ‘Bhamamani Janaki.’ The concluding kuraippu and korvai by Saroja were elegantly metrical. A captivating thani was provided by K.R. Ganesh (mridangam) and Madipakkam Murali (ghatam). Almost the entire thani was in tisra nadai where the possibilities of laya are infinite!

C. Lalitha’s Purvikalyani alapana was absorbing. It is a sandhya (evening) raga and her handling of it was delicate and charming. Anandapadmanabha’s elucidation was impressive. The sisters rendered Ambujam Krishna’s ‘Iniyakilum Ninai Manamae’ (rupakam) powerfully depicting the entreating Nature of the raga and lyrics. The kalpanaswaras were captivating. It should be mentioned that the sisters never attempted to strain their voice and vocalisation was natural and spontaneous.

‘Mokshamu Galatha’ of Tyagaraja in which the saint analyses the path of obtaining salvation, was rendered with the raga Saramathi’s meditative sentiment. K.R. Ganesh provided a fascinating theermanam. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Bhogeendra Sayinam’ (Kuntalavarali) and Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi ‘Nindathi Chandana’ (Darbari Kanada) left one mesmerised.

Earlier, B. Vijayagopal offered a charismatic flute recital. Since he is an accomplished vocalist as well, he follows the gayaki style, seamlessly blending the intricacies of both vocal and instrumental patterns.

Obviously he has realised that genuine technique is different from mechanical skill. That is why his Kalyani alapana was brilliant. It sparkled with an endless variety of gamakas. Tyagaraja’s all-time favourite, ‘Etha Unara’ came off with its elegant mood. “O Rama, where doth thou dwell?” asks the saint. The swaras were apt. M.R. Gopinath (violin) demonstrated his flair for aesthetic presentation, true to tradition. The thani by R. Sankaranarayanan (mridangam) and Tiruchi S. Krishnaswamy (ghatam) was exceedingly enjoyable. Sankaranarayanan’s fingers match the speed of his mind; his arithmetic is precise and he has a bright future.

Vijayagopal’s special finger and transposition technique allowed him to explore a vast range and this was reflected in the Dwijavanthi alapana and the rendition of Dikshitar’s ‘Akhilandeswari.’

Similarly, his expansive alapana of Saveri was enthralling, the stress being on Karuna rasa. Periasami Thooran’s ‘Muruga Muruga’ was the chosen kriti in Misra Chapu. The swara exchanges were magical.

Vijayagopal commenced his recital with the Abhogi varnam, followed by ‘Seve Srikantham’ (Mohanakalyani) of Swati Tirunal. The kalpanaswaras were tantalising. Patnam Subramania Iyer’s Nagaswaravali kriti, ‘Garudagamana Samayamithe’ was a welcome relief between Saveri and Kalyani.

ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com