Brahma Gana Sabha: Vijay Siva adopted a faster tempo in the rendition of kritis. And Sriranjani Santhanagopalan impressed the audience with her essay of Thodi.

It was full-throated singing by Vijay Siva and somewhat in a faster tempo than earlier times. It was as if he was throwing a challenge at his detractors who would complain that his singing was rather sedate and lacked zing.

From the beginning to the end it was so and it became somewhat over-powering and made one long for some singing in the lower octave and in a softer tone. When that occurred in the swara segment in Bhairavi it was a pleasant relief.

After the Abhogi varnam ‘Evaribodhana,’ ‘Sakethanagaranatha’ in Harikhambodi, which is hardly heard these days, was taken up with lively niraval and swaras at ‘Rajitha Amarapala.’ If the Varali raga essay before ‘Karunajudavamma’ of Syama Sastri and later the swaras for the pallavi had been a little mellower, it would have been more apt for the lyrics as also the basic character of the raga itself. In contrast for ‘Nannuvidachi’ in Ritigowla the devotional aspect came to the fore. Kedaragowla raga was dealt with in detail – it was nice to listen to this raga for a change and Amritha Murali, who had impeccable swarasthana on the violin, impressed in both the ragas. ‘Abhayambike’ could have been handled in a slower tempo. It was surprising that Siva did not do so especially as it was a Dikshitar kriti, kalpanaswaras were sung for the pallavi. An exhaustive alapana of Bhairavi preceded Tyagaraja’s ‘Rakshabetare’ with niraval and swaras mainly in Sarvalagu.

The RTP was taken up in Begada and was slightly slower than the earlier alapanas and touched on the essential aspects of the raga. The second segment of it moved seamlessly into tanam, which came in several parts alternating with the violinist. The tanam on the whole was rather attractive.

The pallavi ‘Jagadambe Gatavandasannibhe’ was set to Kanda Jati Triputa talam, two kalai. Here followed the energetic thani by D.J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam. He was an asset to the concert, as usual. Tamil verses on Chennai Kandhakottam in ragamalika – Sindhubhairavi, Sahana and Khambodi, a Sanskrit sloka in Yaman followed by abang ‘Sundarathe Dyana’ and another sloka in a string of ragas concluded the programme.

Sriranjani Santhanagopalan has a clear voice with a good reach in the upper octaves, it facilitates endless brigas. After an invocative sloka on Kanchi Mahaswami in Durbar, she moved on to the varnam ‘Chalamela’ in the same raga. There was a brief alapana of Umabaranam prefixing ‘Nijamarma mulanu.’

Swaraprastara for the pallavi was a little too long. She was able to impress the audience with the essay of Thodi, which was a standard fare. Whether in this or the later Khambodi she dwelt mostly above panchamam be it in the raga alapana or swaras. Just because she is able to sing intricate brigas, applying them all the time without hardly any straight notes makes it rather tiring. The chosen song in Thodi was Tyagaraja’s ‘Rajuvedala’ with niraval and swaras for the line ‘Sevanugani’ in the charanam. The second half of the swara segment was rather frenzied.

It has been a long time since one heard ‘Karanam Ketuvadi’ in Purvikalyani, which offered a break before she launched on the main item Khambodi. The alapana sounded attractive when it was a little slower withoutmuch brigas. Later it was ‘breathless’ singing and was replete with Nagaswara ‘pidis.’ A little pause here and there could have made it a lot more interesting. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste’ was taken up for elaborate treatment; niraval of ‘Vasavadi Sakala Deva’ was reasonably good but swaras offered no new ideas. V.V.S. Murari’s efforts were decent but because of the vocalist’s high pitch his violin sounded rather shrill.

The thani by Melakaveri Balaji on the mridangam and Chandrasekara Sharma on the ghatam was good but audience had started moving out even earlier to get ready for the following concert. Through the concert they gave excellent support. A ragamalika Thiruppugazh concluded the recital.

His talent and intelligence took precedence in the concert of Neyveli Santhanagopalan accompanied by Dr. Narmada on the violin, Arun Prakash on the mridangam and Purushothaman on the ganjira.

After the Ata tala varnam in Ritigowla, he moved on to Muthaiah Bhagavatar’s composition ‘Ganapathe’ in Janaranjani. ‘Ananda Natamaduvar’ in Purvikalyani had niraval and swaras for the madhyamakala passage ‘Paadimadhihothi’ in which there was quite a bit of playing around with the notes and tala, which was highly enjoyed by the accompanists.

In the short raga essay of Ravichandrika, Santhanagopalan seemed to demonstrate how it could easily become Nattakurinji. The chosen kriti was ‘Makelara’ of Tyagaraja with swaras for the pallavi where the ‘Ma’ of the song was used as swarakshara. Everywhere, be it alapana or kalpanaswaras, Narmada proved equal to the vocalist and there was good understanding between them.

After Purandaradasa’s ‘Narayana’ in Suddhadhanyasi came the main item Kalyani. The detailed elaboration of the raga without going beyond ‘Ni’ was interesting. Narmada’s essay was attractive. Santhanagopalan’s usual troublesome voice was at its best in the Dikshitar kriti ‘Bhajare Re Chitha.’ The niraval was taken up at ‘Devi Bheejodbhava’ moving seamlessly into swarakalpana. His mastery over tala was to the fore here, the three or four notes with ‘odukkal’ of tala often sounded rather clipped and staccato. At this point appeared the interesting thani by the percussionists, who had a lot of scope through out the concert. There was RTP after that, a really brief raga alapana of Kiravani preceded a fairly good tanam by both the main artist and the vilonist, the pallavi was ‘Gambhiravani Kirvanau’ set to Adi tala, two kalai.

After the detailed Kalyani, why was a RTP necessary? And there was nothing special about it. A soulful ‘Manasa Sancharare’ in Sama followed.