The traditional structure of a concert was experimented with and adhered to in various events in the Capital

The late Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar has been credited with establishing the concert structure followed and acknowledged by many artistes today. That a concert should ideally start with a varnam (taught to students of Carnatic music in the initial stages of learning) too was his idea. Speaking of this, the Chennai-based R. Vijayalakshmi and R. Chitra, popularly known as the Mambalam Sisters, started their concert very impressively with the Adi tala varnam “Inthachalamu” in raga Begada. After delightfully presenting the thoughtfully selected compositions and displaying their musical depth in their main session for about an hour or so, the sisters left one wondering whether Iyengar had also prescribed a long and winding miscellaneous session for a concert. Here, in the sisters’ recital, the miscellaneous session (containing at least eight items against five in the main session) seemed never ending. The duo’s concert was organised by the Chennai-based Shri Ariyakudi Music Foundation at the Capital’s Delhi Tamil Sangam last weekend.

After the varnam, the duo presented Muthuswami Dikshitar’s “Sadachaleswaram” in raga Bhoopalam. The crisp swaraprastaras were a pointer towards their creative talents even at that stage of the concert. The sisters then went on to present Tyagaraja’s “Gnanamosagarada” in raga Poorvikalyani. This was preceded by a scintillating alapana of the raga by Vijayalakshmi and followed by neraval of the phrase “Paramatmudujivatmudu” and swaraprastaras, bringing to the fore once again their creative talents.

While presenting Papanasam Sivan’s “Ma ramanan” in raga Hindolam, the sisters brought out the emotive contents of the lyrics. As the central item of their recital, the duo chose to present another Tyagaraja composition “Sri Raghuvarapremeya” in raga Kambhoji, which contained a good alap of the raga by Chitra in the beginning and swaraprastharas of the duo towards the end.

VSK Chakrapani on violin, Tanjore Ramachandran on mridangam and Mannai Kannan on ghatam provided good support to the sisters. While Chakrapani’s take on the ragas Poorvikalyani and Kambhoji was delightful, the tani avartanam of the percussionists in the Adi tala was engaging. The sisters’ relatively long miscellaneous session after the tani avartanam included a Thiruppavai, a few bhajans, a song of Bharatiyar, the often heard “Kuraivondrumillai” and “Ennakavipadinalum”.

Elsewhere, in neighbouring Noida, a team of musicians led by Delhi-based J. Ramakrishnan and O.V. Ramani conducted the Radha Kalyana Mahotsava in the bhajana paddhati. The two-day event, which was organised by Vishnu Sahasranama Satsangam, Noida, contained some scintillating bhajan sessions. The organisation also earmarked time for a group rendering of Tyagaraja’s Pancharatna kritis, led by K. Vageesh.

Delhi-based Guruvayoor T.V. Manikandan, in another concert organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations at Azad Bhavan, presented a short vocal concert. Structuring his concert on a traditional pattern, Manikandan started his concert with a varnam (Adi tala and in Pantuvarali raga) and ended with a tillana (in raga Brindavana Saranga). In his concert spanning an hour or so, Manikandan took up Tyagaraja’s composition “Nidhichalasukhama” in raga Kalyani for a detailed rendition, containing all the three improvisation techniques, namely raga alapana, neraval, and swaraprastaras. Swati Tirunal’s “Gangeyavasana” and Dikshitar’s “Parvati Kumaram” in raga Nattakuranji were well presented. VSK Chakrapani on violin, K.N. Padmanabhan on mridangam, N. Harinarayanan on ghatam and Ravikiran on morsing provided good support.