Two concerts brought back into focus the genius of S. Balachander and the melody of the veena.

Every year, the Veena Vidwan Dr. S. Balachander Trust pays tribute to the maestro through a series of concerts by various artists. This year too, concerts were held at the Bhavan’s PVC Ramasamy Raja Hall.

Padmavathy Ananthagopalan and Jayanthi Kumaresh are popular torchbearers of Balachander’s ‘gayaki’ (‘azhuttham’ and ‘gamakam’) style. It is also a known fact that Padmavathy and Jayanthi have inherited the unique style from the legend and they have adapted the same to suit their style of stress synthesised with melody.

With limits of time factor, the duo chose to impart special importance on raga treatises, clarity and underscoring on sahityas and swaras, and at the same time, carrying the characteristic stamp of their guru. Abhogi by Jayanthi traversed the beauteous passages and came as a pertinent prelude to Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Lakshmi Varaham.’ Eloquent swara dialogue anchoring on shadjam carried vivacity. The Purvikalyani raga essay was initiated by Padamavathy and then taken up by Jayanthi, and meticulous musical ideas were exchanged in the tanam that followed. Neelakanta Sivan’s ‘Ananda Nadamaduvar’ was vibrant once again through lively swarasprasthara. ‘Merusamana’ in Mayamalavagowla and a thillana in Khamas were the other two attractive inclusions in their repertoire.

R. Ramesh and E.M. Subramaniam on the mridangam and the ghatam supported the duo with subtlety.

The second day saw a near replica of Dr. S Balachander in the concert of the virtuoso’s grandson, Baradwaj Raman. The typical Balachander style could be heard here which used to be potent and commanding. Baradwaj’s raga essays and swara forays in Hamadhwani, Saraswati and Harikhambodi testified this aspect. ‘Anuragamulae’ (Tyagaraja) in Saraswati, one of the favourites of Balachander, was presented in the same fashion. It was awesome to see the young player touch many notes of the raga in one pluck and pull almost as meticulously as his grandfather.

‘Rama Nannu Brovara’ (Tyagaraja) in Harikhambodi followed with niraval and swaras on ‘Meppulakai;’ it drew much appreciation from the rasikas. Baradwaj ventured into Rishabhapriya for the main exposition for the Koteswara Iyer kriti ‘Gananaya Desika,’ showcasing the raga image with clarity. Here, he proved his perception of not only his guru’s method but also the classical raga’s range. A quick ‘Paridanamichithe’ (Patnam Subramania Iyer) in Bilahari showed the youngster’s control over the frets and added enough spice to the presentation.

Guru Raghavendra and Nerkunam Shankar on the mridangam and the ganjira matched the flamboyance and dynamism of the veena player.