Thanjavur Sankara Iyer can be rightly described as a musician's musician. His forte is strict adherence to classical values, both in his exposition of kalpitha and manodharma sangeetam.
This double disc album is a recording of a live concert by the veteran in Chennai in March 2008. One of Sankara Iyer's earlier compositions that has remained very popular over the decades is ‘Rama Namame Thudhi Maname' in Desh. Sankara Iyer begins with the K. Ata tala varnam ‘Viriboni' in Bhairavi. The brief kalpanaswaras for the charanam are engaging. The other compositions featured are the vocalist's own creations.
Violinist Padma Sankar translates to perfection the ideas of the vocalist in raga vinyasas. Her brief sketch of Sahana is hauntingly beautiful and offers the raga in its essence.
Sankara Iyer moves on to present a neat portrait Purvikalyani. What is not palatable is the unwanted singing of a line from Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Meenakshi Memudam' in the alapana. The lyric is ‘Veenavadana Dasa Gamakakriye.' The reasons for resorting to it are best known to the singer, as Purvikalyani is quite a popular raga and easily identifiable by regular listeners of Carnatic music. The kriti ‘Dasan En Mel' is bhava-rich with just the right dose of niraval and solfa passages.
Padma Sankar is once again at her best in her replies. It is interesting to listen to Sankara Iyer mention that the current Purvikalyani was called Kalyani in earlier times.
‘Sri Rama Dhoota' in Thodi (Misra Chapu ) is the main piece. The portrayal of Thodi is devoid of any adventure and is built with traditional phrases and sancharas which are easy on the ear. Mridangam vidwan B. Sivaraman plays a thani avartanam that is dignified and in perfect alignment with sruti.
Sankara Iyer winds up with kritis in Lalitha (‘Thaye Dayapari'), Kedaragowla (‘Aadidum Paadathai'), Chenchurutti (‘Shanthi Alithidum') and a mangala kriti ‘Manamalar Alithu' in Surutti. The entire fare is refined and non-dramatic.