An inclination towards innovation and experimentation marked the array of programmes organised by the Sathguru Sangeeta Samajam for their 58th music and arts festival.

In the very first concert A. Kanyakumari performed on the violin with a contact mike while V. Sanjeev played accompanist on a normal violin. While a remarkable force and flow characterised the Hamsadwani kriti, ‘Vara Vallabha Ramana,’ it sounded western at certain places, as the instrument and the volume at which it was played subtly altered the flavour of the song. Super fast chittaswarams played in the fourth speed mesmerised the audience and maintained the tempo of the concert. But then the artist appeared to favour a fast pace even for songs that are traditionally sung at a slow speed such as ‘Om Namo Narayana’ (Karna Ranjani) by Ambujam Krishna. However, the violinist's virtuosity is unquestionable as was evident in her inspired alapanas in Bhairavi and in her rendering of the sriraga kriti, ‘Entaro Mahanubhavulu.’ Sanjeev meticulously echoed the playing of the senior in speed and energy and the tone of his instrument made some of the listeners nostalgic for the traditional violin without the mike. K.V. Prasad on the mridangam kept up with the energetic music and was ably assisted by B.S. Purushothaman on the ganjira and Bangalore B. Rajashekar on the morsing who took turns or played as a trio to provide the required rhythmic support.

Exhaustive and creative

The Malladi Brothers began their concert with Tyagaraja’s ‘Sri Ganapathiye,’ in raga sourashtra, In short memorable renderings of ‘Manasunilpa’ (Abhogi) and ‘Sri Madhurapuri Viharini’ (Bilahari), samples of their perfection and unison followed. The alapana in Shanmukhapriya by Sri Ramprasad for ‘Parvati Nayakane’ by Papanasam Sivan was long and sometimes repetitive but it was offset by the enjoyable niraval in ‘Nee Maravadhenai.’

The RTP, exhaustive and creative, for the pallavi ‘Dikshita Vara Syama Tyagarajam,’ was easily the most engaging part of the concert. Ravikumar's improvisations were much appreciated. The final pieces of the concert were in rare ragas such as Kalavati for the Annamacharya kriti, ‘Kandarpa Janaka’ and pahadi for Sadasiva Brahmendrar's ‘Prathi Varam Ramam.’ T.K.V. Ramanujacharyulu played the violin while K.V. Prasad and Vaikom Gopalakrishnan played the mridangam and ghatam respectively.

Sung with grace

Maharajapuram S. Ramachandran sang ‘Sivatrhraya Mahaganapathim’ in nattai with aplomb and majesty associated with the raga. The kalpanaswarams were sung with the grace and ease of experience gained from many performances. The violinist, M.A. Sundaresan, played a complementary as well as a creative role right from the start. Ramachandran then sang ‘Sharanagatamendru Nambi Vanden’ in Gowla and used the opportunity to provide melodious phrases in bass that the raga lends itself to. The twists and turns of short alapana that followed were quickly identified to be those of Ataana for the song ‘Bala Kanakamaya.’ Equally familiar and much loved was the choice of the next alapana in Kalyana Vasantham for ‘Nadaloludai.’ The singing was enriched with intricate and imaginative phrases. The short pieces were old favourites such as ‘Vilaiyada Idhu’ (Shanmukhapriya), ‘Sagara Sayana’ in Bageshree and ‘Bho Shambo’ (Revathi). The ragamalika beginning ‘Nalinakanti’ included the names of ragas and the audience found the parade of ragas – Bhairavi, Vasanta Bhairavi, Kedara, Sama, Saveri, Lalita and many more – very interesting. The centre piece ‘Nidichala’ was rendered with sufficient power and imagination.

Enticing package

It was smooth sailing for Sangeetha Sivakumar from start to finish, beginning with the tharu varnam, ‘Maate’ in Khamas, by Muthaiah Bhagavatar. The initial songs were sung without much prelude and the singer tried to include many composers in her selection of songs. Dikshitar's ‘Vallabha Nayakasya’ (Begada) was folowed by ‘Gopanandana’ (Bushavali) by Swati Tirunal and ‘Janani Ninuvina’ (Ritigowla) by Subbaraya Sastry. She then began a leisurely alapana in Khambodi, first singing typical phrases and then building it up with free flowing elaboration. The main song that followed was ‘Kaana Kan Kodi’ by Papanasam Sivan. Amrita Murali played with perfect clarity to bring out the bhava of the raga. Delhi Sairam on the mridangam strived to create interest by altering the volume and rhythm of his play and the simple expressions of the ghatam by N. Guruprasad was equally interesting.