There are several factors that go in favour of the Malladi Brothers; their baritone but pleasant voice, clear diction and articulation, internalisation of the songs and perfection in delivery. These qualities have brought them popularity among both the commoner and the connoisseur. The concert under review offered several moments of sheer aural pleasure.
Tyagaraja’s ‘Tulasi Jagajjanani’ with short niraval swaras on ‘Saranayugambulu’ set the concert rolling. This was followed by the Anandabhairavi essay for Dikshitar’s ‘Anandeswaraena’ again with a few rounds of swaras. Three ragas were dealt with in detail -- Ravikriya, Khambodi and Gowri Manohari.
The positively tricky Ravikraiya treatise was expertly developed by Ravi Kumar, through the smart handling of the vivadi swaras-laden Melaraga (Raghupriya, 42) would have kept many guessing as such ragas create a vague picture of adjacent ragas and their suddhamadhyama counterparts. Luckily, the duo made the announcement and were wise enough to use the arohanam and avarohanam dazzlingly in kalpanaswaras for Dikshitar’s ‘Himagiri Kumari Eswari.’
Khambodi, with its inherent royal gait, started off first from Sriram Prasad and the second segment with higher trajectories, went to Ravi Kumar. It was a lengthy and substantial elaboration by the siblings who explored the range of the domineering raga to its fullest. Their selection was Tyagaraja’s ‘Sri Raghuvara Aprameya’ which has a different structure from the normal kriti format, with myriad sangatis in the pallavi. The brothers chose ‘Seethanatha Tyagarjanutha’ for niraval and the important point is they took the entire line for niraval without splitting it.
The duo had to rush through a bit in RTP in Gowri Manohari where it was Ravi Kumar who expanded the raga with greater emphasis on melody. His upper region approaches were imaginative, eloquent and engaging. The tanam was a quickie and the pallavi ‘Dikshita Vara Syama Tyagarajam Bhaje Saneetha Sadguru Sada’, in Kanda Jathi Triputa talam, a tribute to the Trinity, profound in content, not damp but the artists had to dash through due to time factor.
Embar Kannan on the violin proved his melodic intelligence while playing ragas and swaras, and in fact, his reply at one point in Gowri Manohari garnered a huge applause from the audience, quite unexpected but well deserving.
A special mention must be made about the percussion artists K.V. Prasad (mridangam) and Udipi Sridhar (ghatam). It would have sounded almost like a self effacing act by both during the renditions because there was hardly any overpowering or noisy intervention from them at any stage. The tani too was soft and slow, and rounded off with a touch of class.