JUNIORS S. Maalavika and Nisha Rajagopal have a strong sense of classicism. P.S. Krishnamurthi

A mong the pleasing concerts in the afternoon slot was that of S. Maalavika, who was accompanied by M. Rajeev and Rajna Swaminathan – a sprightly team with mature sense of musical aesthetics.

Maalavika started with 'Gajaanana Yutam Ganesvaram Bhajami', Dikshitar's obeisance to Lord Ganesa, in Chakravakam. Not having heard the vocalist before, one could speculate that given the briga and suddham in the singer's voice and the solid foundation of her patantara, one looked forward to a memorable event. Added to that was the facile accompaniment of the violin and precise synchronisation, coupled with soothing strokes of the mridangam. As the concert proceeded, this faith was justified.

A dedicated Poorvikalyani alapana at an unhurried pace with well-executed and clear karvais depicted by Maalavika was reflected in Rajeev's playing as well. The kriti was Tyagaraja's ‘Jnaanamu Saharaada' in Roopakam, heard for the first time in this slot this year. The vocalist stressed the sukha bhava and the violinist offered soothing symphonies in the niraval at ‘Paramaatmudu Jeevaatmudu' An equally moving Thodi with plenty of original pidippus simulating a nagaswaram tenor was marked by mature development. The kriti that came up for serious treatment was Kumara Bhoopati's ‘Gaja Vadana' which exuded bhakti that is the epitome of Thodi.

Rajna's short thani packed substantial power with soothing strokes. ‘Idadu Paadam Thooki' (Khamas, Adi) and ‘Chandrasekhara' (Sindhubhairavi, Desadi) were melody-laden tukkadas that capped a wonderful concert.

Rich in bhava

Nisha Rajagopal's two-hour concert was rich in bhava, tasteful and impeccable in grammar and usage. She must have paid close attention to every aspect of her concert – in selection of raga, tala, composition, composer, order of presentation, allocation of time for niraval, swara, thani avartanam, tukkada and the cosmetics of singing - modulation and nuances. Most helpful inputs came from Nishant Chandran on the violin, B. Sivaraman on the mridangam and H. Prasanna on the ghatam.

The simple ‘Eraanapai' varnam in Thodi started at a slow pace, gathering speed at the charanam. ‘Rama Nee Pai' of Tyagaraja in Kedaram, Adi opened the second door for Nisha's picturesque musical gallery. Thodi, Kedaram and Abhogi were suitable choices. Nisha and Nishant did justice to a mellow development of the raga, and followed it up with ‘Sabhapatikku Veru Deivam.'

Sprinkled brigas, juxtaposed with gliding gamakas, with crystalline clarity and discreteness and effortless spontaneity, made for a study in aural aesthetics in every piece through elegant swara exchanges. A powerful alapana in Pantuvarali led to Tyagaraja's ‘Raghuvara,' heard after a long time. Although given to loudness, the mridangam was happily restrained in the niraval and kalpanaswara phase at ‘Manasuna Neeke.'

The concluding arudis were original. Syama Sastri's ‘Emanime' in Mukhari followed and ‘Parama Purusham' in Khandachapu, ‘Lalitapanchamam' of Swati Tirunal rendered fast over four minutes was an ideal appetiser before RTP in Khambodi. Simplicity couched the RTP phase. Following well delineated Khambodi alapana and tanam came the pallavi ‘Sadasivam, Sakala Subha Daayaka', a Dikshitar style play on the word Khambhoja, the kingdom which generated the raga. The ragamalika swaras were in Ranjani, Kanada and Hamsanadam. Nisha maintained the tempo till the very end, through a javali in Paras, viruttam in Tamil and the song ‘Kaliyuga Varadan' in Brindavanasaranga. The thani was conventional and proper.