The Navarathri fete at the Karthyayini temple, Thrissur, featured vocal concerts by stalwarts and youngsters.

It is that time of the year again, when Devi temples across the State resound with music of the Navarathri festival. For the past 24 years, the music festival at the Karthyayini temple, Pazhaya Nadakkavu, Thrissur, has been a regular feature during the Navaratri season. Among the galaxy of musicians who performed, up-and-coming artistes were conspicuous by their participation.

The 10-day festival began with Suma Pisharody's paean to ‘Sree Ganapathi' in Saurashtram, set to Adi tala. The main item was ‘Ninne nammiti' (Todi-Mishrachapu tala-Syama Sastri).

Changanassery Madhavan Namboothiri sang ‘Neetugarana' (Kalyani-Adi tala-Tyagaraja) and ‘Paratpara Parameswara' (Vachaspati-Adi tala-Papanasam Sivan). He seemed to have trouble at places, with notes slipping out of control. The accompanying artistes did not help to raise the standard of the concert either.

Poornima Krishnan has a powerful bass voice and her grasp of the medium is praiseworthy, but the performance as such, lacked punch. ‘Devi Pavanay Sevay' (Saveri-Adi tala-Swati Tirunal) and ‘Sarasaksha Paripalaya' (Pantuvarali-Adi tala-Swati Tirunal) did not carry over well to the audience.

Kottakkal Ranjith Varier's voice has matured and his proficiency has improved in the last couple of years. His innovative phrases and full-bodied ragaalapanam cemented this fact. ‘Darini Telusukonti' (Suddha Saveri-Adi tala-Tyagaraja) and a masterly rendition of ‘Manasu Swadheenamaina' (Sankarabharanam-Mishra Chapu tala-Tyagaraja) demonstrated his innate talent and his painstaking sadhakam. His resonant voice was complemented by some excellent bowing by young violinist Ramesh. The percussionists, though, were loud and overpowering.

Veteran Mathangi Satyamoorthy proved her class with an excellent performance on the fifth day of the festival. From her opening varnam in raga Sree, to her lilting tillana in Revathi, she was in total control of her recital. ‘Kamakshi Kamakoti Peethavasini' (Simhendra Madhyamam-Roopaka tala-Dikshitar) was soulful. Niraval and manodharma swaras at ‘Nada Bindu Kala Swaroopini, Karthyayini' were dazzling displays of patterned grace. A ragam-tanam-pallavi in Kharaharapriya (Khandajathi Triputa tala), lasting over an hour, established the authority of the artiste.

In-depth understanding

The highlight of V.R. Dileepkumar's concert was ‘Pahi Jagat Janani' (Vachaspati-Adi tala-Swati). He built up a systematic and detailed alapana that displayed the mood of the raga. His wide vocal range and his in-depth understanding of the raga contributed immensely to the superb rendition. ‘Paripalimsu' (Suddha Saveri-Khanda Chapu tala-Tiruvarenallur) was a great rendition, followed by the charming ‘Hiranmayi' (Lalitha-Roopaka tala- Dikshitar). The accompanying artistes, Trivandrum Sampath on the violin and Palakkad Mahesh Kumar on the mridangam, deserve special mention, as does up-and-coming ganjira player Sreekanth.

Trichy Pradeep Kumar's presentation of Papanasam Sivan's ‘Parvathi Nayakanay' in Shanmughapriya (Adi tala) demonstrated his flair for gamakas. While Edappally Jayamohan on the violin provided able support, Kottayam Manojkumar and Kottayam Harikrishnan on the mridangam and ghatam, respectively, distracted with their excessive tapping.

Two of the brightest stars of the fete were Anand (mridangam) and Abhishek Raghuram (vocal), grandsons of the legendary mridangam artiste Palghat Raghu.

Their habituated ease with each other was evident on stage. Abhishek's performance exploded with youthful energy. ‘Mamavasada Varaday' (Natakurinji-Roopaka tala-Swati Tirunal) and ‘Palinju Kamakshi' (Madhyamavathi-Adi tala-Shyama Sastri) were examples of this youngster's genius. C.S. Anuroop (violin) and Udupi Sridhar complemented this enjoyable recital.

On Mahanavami, it was the turn of maestro vocalist T.V. Sankaranarayanan (TVS). His unsurpassed performance was a veritable ‘nada-laya-pravaha'! Ever youthful at 65, his concert was in full flow from the first note of ‘Vinayaka Ninu Vina' in Hamsadhwani to ‘Venkatachala Nilayay' in Sindhubhairavi. ‘Guruvayur Appa' (Chakravakam-Adi tala-Papanasam Sivan) was ecstatically devotional.

Appropriate choice

‘Vageeshwari' (Saraswathy-Adi tala-Vidya Bharati) was an appropriate choice for the season. Manodharma swaras and niraval at ‘Neevey Shivashakti' were indescribably spiritual in tone. His ‘Inta Soukhyamani' (Kapi-Adi tala-Tygaraja) was mellifluous. He built pyramids of Aarohanam-avarohanam, not with single notes, but with phrases.

In the ragamalika, when he pleaded with ‘Kanna Karmukil Varna' to come to him, one could almost hear the jingling of the anklets of “the little one” arriving! K.V. Prasad and Payyannoor Govinda Prasad brought the mridangam and morsing to pitch perfection. T.H. Subramaniam once again came up with a matchless performance.

The festival closed with up-and-coming vocalist Smitha Vinod's concert. The main composition was ‘Durasugakripajalu' (Saveri-Adi tala- Syama Sastri), with manodhrama swaras and Niraval at ‘Parama Pavani.'

Though distanced by age and style, each artiste's passion for their art and the inner compulsion to touch the Divine through music, was evident.