The Brinda touch was evident. V. Balasubramanian

It was a full house that greeted Aruna Sairam as the curtain went up at the Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, and she did not disappoint them. It was a remarkable concert right from the Kaanada Ata tala varnam. Delineating Bindumalini, Aruna made an impressive landing in the panchamam of mandhara stayi. The sruti alignment made it even more soothing.

The slow pace she chose for the Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Entha Muddo Entha Sogaso’ was quite contrary to the Madhyama kala normally adopted. The kriti thus attained a new dimension. The tempo continued in her alapana of Mohana ragam. Vittal Ramamurthy’s (violin) reply was equally good.

Changing pace, Aruna presented ‘Gopika Manoharam,’ a rare kriti by Dikshitar. ‘Needayachay’ (Yadukulakhambodi-Tyagaraja-Adi), another racy number followed. These variations in the pace kept the audience engaged.

Then came an authentic delineation of Ranjani. The phrases the vocalist developed around the daivatam were beauties and kept the discerning rasika yearn for the shadjam landing. Vittal’s breezy reply included attractive phrases.

Kadayanallur Venkatraman, that inimitable tunesmith has set to music Mysore Loka Narasimhan’s song ‘Sada Saranga Nayane’ in Ranjani.

A melodious song, Aruna invested it with bhavam, so typical of the Brinda school.

‘Challaray’ (Aahiri-Tyagaraja-Misram) and ‘Kai Vida Maattan Kanakasabesan’ (Valaji- Chidambaram C.S. Natarajasundaram Pillai-Adi) at opposite speeds that set the field for the main, Thodi. The alapana in nagaswaram style was captivating. The pauses between sancharas gave the much needed reprieve. The spuritams were on the dot. With the vocalist presenting one of her best concerts, it was surprising to see a gentleman in the front row reading the newspaper. And it changed hands! Perhaps suitable in one’s drawing room; but in a music hall, when the artist is in full flow…? A loud discussion between two other men was another distraction.

Syama Sastri’s beauty ‘Ninne Namminaanu’ (misram) was emotion-packed. It was ecstasy when a visibly moved Aruna caressed the lines ‘Kamakshi Kanchadalayadakshi’ for niraval. The imaginative playing of K.V. Prasad (mridagam) and S. Karthick (ghatam) that embellished the kritis continued even during the thani that was short and sweet.