VOICE POWER Sanjay Subramaniam's flair for Tamil songs came to the fore at the recent concert. Rich in repertoire and profound in presentation, Sowmya's recital exemplified her calibre. S. SIVAKUMAR

S anjay Subramaniam enjoys the moment and gives free expression to his musical prowess. The concert at Tamil Isai Sangam was marked by his uninhibited style. There was no predictable grid.

The opening piece ‘Siddhi Vinayaganae' in Kalavathi (Kavikunjara Bharati), ‘Sri Venugopla Deva' in Durbar (Koteeswara Iyer) and ‘Jaadhiyilai Madhangalilai' (Ramalinga Vallalaar) in Sriranjani had the label of novelty on them and showed how well the singer can adapt Tamil songs to the concert pattern.

Spontaneous technique

The alapanas for Sahana (Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Thillai Ambalathaanai') and Simhendramadhyamam (‘Ikaparam Aenum,' Sivan) revealed amazing craftsmanship, and Sanjay explored the ragas in an exhaustive manner. Sahana had an imaginative combination of swaras -- in vilamba kalam at ‘Thillai Ambalathaanai' and dhuridha kaalam at ‘Govindarajanai.' There was also a reversal of this technique, which showed his spontaneity.

‘Ramanukku Mannan' by Arunachala Kavi, in Hindolam, seemed to prepare the audience for the RTP in Khambodhi. The pallavi was in 4 kalais, set in tisra jathi triputa talam, was reduced to 2 kalais as the rounds went on and further to a single kalai, before it was again restored to 4 kalais as it concluded. The lyric was ‘Aanandha Nadanam Adinaar Thadhimi Thadeem Ena Kanaka Sabayil.'

Sanjay always attempts to give his utmost and the overwork takes its toll on the ‘shantha-sowkhya' component, at times. And if certain nuances of MDR, Madurai Mani Iyer or Somu are interspersed in his concerts they only show the grip these stalwarts have on him. His stay at the top shadjamam heard often for long durations is a strain on him, but a joy for rasikas.

Nagai Muralidharan on the violin, presented the ragas in all their flavour, and his tanam and accompaniment for the pallavi had poise.

Mannargudi Easwaran on the mridangam and Sri Sundarkumar on the ganjira played thani differently beginning with shared short phrases and slowly building it into many avarthana routines, with vidwat and verve. Sanjay's lovely raga-bhava-soaked narrative passages that belong to the virutham domain for ‘Oorilaen Kaani Illai(Suddhadhanyasi) landed on Sivan's song, ‘Brindavanamidhuvo.'

Given Sanjay's flair for Tamil songs, the concert could have easily been extended for another half an hour, but came to a close with The Note and a thillana.

Was there a signal to wind up? Tamil Isai Sangam can consider beginning the evening concerts at 6 p.m. instead of 7.

Cast a spell

Stillness, depth and fragrance are the musical qualities of SOWMYA'S concerts. The finely carved Khambodi alapana with its even phrases for ‘Vennai Unnum En Venu Gaananai' (Periasami Thooran) came a wee-bit early – it was song number three. It didn't give an inkling of the trend of the concert as there were swaras and a smooth niraval at ‘Kandrai Meyppavan.'

‘Aadikkondaar' in Mayamalavagowlai (Muthu Thaandavar) had a running speed that matched the rhythm of Siva's dance and even before one could absorb the lyric, Yadhukulakhambodi began. This prefaced ‘Kaalai Thooki Nindraadum' (Marimutha Pillai) rendered in ideal kalapramanam that gave full import to the questions that were being posed to Lord Siva. The Sambandar Thevaram, ‘Pootherndu Aaayana Konduin' (Arabhi) was apt for the milieu after which Useni's essence poured through ‘Enna Punniyam' (Sivarama Yogi).

What followed was Harikhambodi as the next piece for Sivan's song, ‘Enathu Manam.' If this Khambodi triad had cast a magic spell it also meant a kind of ‘musical affluence' this singer is endowed with.

The feat showed raga vision, thoroughness in the study of subtle nuances and ability to capture the emotion of each raga. This Khambodi-format reminded one of veena maestro S. Balachander's AIR concert combining Kharaharapriya, Sriranjani and Abhogi, several years ago.

Familiar Tamil songs and pasurams at the end transported rasikas to a different world. Bharatiyar's ‘Thiruvaai Panindhu Niththam' (Mand) seeking to dispel fear, Annamalai Reddiar's Kavadichindhu, ‘Bhoomi Mechidum' drawn from folk, Nandanar's lament, ‘Chidambaram Pogamal Iruppaeno' (Gopalakrishna Bharati) and the Thiruppugazh, ‘Paravaikkethanai' (Poornachandrika) showed the inexhaustible variety of Tamil compositions.

R. K. Shriramkumar on the violin lived up to his task and followed the singer laying special emphasis on the key phrases while portraying the Khambodi group and answered well during the swara sessions which had long and short spells. Neyveli Narayanan on the mridangam and K. V. Gopalakrishnan on the ganjira set up the laya support with a well-thought out thani.

Earlier, after completing the song, ‘Sivakamasundari' (Gopalakrishna Bharati, Jaganmohini) Sowmya turned nostalgic and mentioned how 28 years ago she had presented this song at the same venue and won a prize!

Considering her rich repertoire of Tamil songs, it did surprise many to know that technically, it was her maiden concert at the Sangam! Hopefully she will be a regular in the years to come.