In an enthralling tribute to Tyagaraja, Nithyasree Mahadevan sang with Sowmya in her return-to-stage performance at The Music Academy, Chennai, to observe Tyagaraja aradhana on Sunday last. Nithyasree began in subdued mien, but soon sprang into melodic force in spirited repartee to every challenge thrown by the smiling Sowmya, who was in excellent form that day. What stood out was spontaneity; the only aim that day was to sing from the heart. The audience cheered them all along, particularly Nithyasree. M.A. Krishnaswamy (violin) played an amazing Varali, while Poongulam Subramaniam (mridangam) and Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam) provided adequate support.
The concert stood out for its repertoire – from the Pancharatna to ‘Pavvalimpu’ a piece from Tyagaraja’s Utsava Sampradaya.
Beginning with ‘Dudukugala’ (Gowla), the duo followed it with ‘Bhajana Seya’ in Atana, and took up sarvalagu swaraprasthara. In a mellow mood, Nithyasree explored Varali with beautiful bursts into the higher octave. ‘Sarasasamadana’ (Kapinarayani) came next with niraval at ‘Hithavumata’ amid kalpanaswara fireworks.
Stepping up the melodic intensity, the next piece was an interesting next choice – ‘Matadavemi’ (Nilambari). Sowmya and Nithyasree sang ‘Ennadu juthuno’ (Kalavati) with fervour; here Tyagaraja entreats, “When will I enjoy the darshan of your countenance, praised time and again by many?” In the same vein, ‘Meevalla’ (Kapi) evinced the saint-poet’s deep introspection.
Nithyasree next took up an enthralling Bilahari alapana begun by Sowmya to greater heights. ‘Dorakuna’ (Bilahari) with niraval and swaras was as ecstatic as Tyagaraja’s vision.
With Sowmya in her elements in the Yamunakalyani exploration, the duo invoked ‘Narayanahari.’ The Utsva Sampradaya kritis (‘Poola panpu,’ Ahiri, and ‘Pathiki Haarati’, Surutti) rounded off an evening of emotional intensity.