REVIEW Ranjani and Gayathri displayed an irrefutable mastery over the idiom
A vocal duet by Ranjani and Gayathri, accompanied by Charumathi Raghuraman (violin), H.S.Sudhindra (mridanga) and Sukanya Ramgopal (ghata) was part of the 43rd Annual Conference of the Bangalore Gayana Samaja.
An impressive start was made with “Neerajakshi”, Veene Sheshanna's varna in Saveri raga and jhampa thala, and “Rama Neepai”, the Thyagaraja krithi in Kedaram, supplemented with kalpana swaras studded with janta usages. The sedate tempo of “Iko Nama Swami” in Manirang raga and mishra chapu thala prefaced a delicately-nuanced articulation of Malayamarutham. Thyagaraja's “Manasa Etulorthune” in rupaka thala featured a spate of kalpana swaras at “Kalilo Rajasa Thamasa”, and was followed by a highly-modulated rendition of Ponnayya Pillai's “Amba Neelambari” in Neelambari, effectively highlighting the lilting melody of the raga as contained in the composition.
Shanmukhapriya was taken up next for a fairly exhaustive alapana that included a few coaxing phrases that descended to the mandra panchama, and reflected the haunting allure of the raga in the madhya sthayi. Plentiful sancharas around the nishada heralded the ascent to the thara shadja, which was adorned with some unusually patterned brigas. An intriguing and rather unconventional sruthi bheda exercise thereafter sought to introduce shades of Kanada, as explained and demonstrated again later. Swathi Thirunal's “Mamava Karunaya” in mishra chapu thala incorporated a sumptuous neraval at the charana line beginning “Vikacha Kamala Mukha” and kalpana swaras in two speeds leading up to a thani avarthana.
A bracing “Vina Naasakoni” in Prathapavarali raga and adi thala was the prelude to the piece de resistance of the evening, a raga thana pallavi in Bahudhari. The inherent sweetness of the scale was illumined with superlative improvisational powers that found expression in a plethora of symmetrical and consonant passages and concluded with a seamless transition to the thana. The pallavi beginning “Dhananjaya Saarathe” was couched in khanda jathi thriputa thala, with the laghu in tisra gathi and the drutham in chathurasra gathi. The exposition was a glittering mosaic of rhythms and melodies, and incorporated ragamalika kalpana swaras. While the young violinist proved her mettle with prompt responses, admirable manodharma skills and technical expertise, the percussionists provided outstanding support in complete consonance with the style and intent of the lead artistes.
Irrefutable mastery over the idiom and unswerving commitment to the aesthetic enjoyment and intellectual stimulation of the rasikas were the hallmarks of the concert and reaffirmed the status of the duo as performers par excellence.