Music Ragas flowed at the ‘Aathirotsavam' fete at Vadakkunathan temple, Thrissur. Jaya Narayanan Pisharoty

T he season of misty evenings and chilly mornings heralds the festival of Thiruvathira, dedicated to Lord Shiva and Parvathi. Thrissur's famous Vadakkunathan Temple is the venue for a week-long musical fete at this time of year.

M. Jayachandran's Carnatic vocal recital was the first programme in this series. He began in an innovative style by plunging straight into an alapanam of ‘Anandamritakarshini' (Amritavarshini- Adi tala-Dikshitar). ‘Orajupuju' (Kannadagowla- Adi tala- Tyagaraja) was a brief interlude. He elaborated on raga Vagadeeshwari with expertise, choosing the Tyagaraja composition ‘Jeevatmudu Veluge.' The main composition was ‘Parvathi nayakanay'(Shanmughapriya-Adi tala-Papanasam Sivan). Jayachandran's manodharma swaras brought out the beauty of the raga. Attukal Balasubramaniam on the violin complemented the vocalist. Tani was by Guruvayur Dorai (mridangam) and Adichanallur Anilkumar (ghatam).

Holding his own

Balabhaskar's fame may stem from his reputation as a fusion artiste, but he is also a classically-trained violinist who can hold his own on any stage. He began with a varnam in Sree. A brief alapanam preceded compositions in ragas Gowla and Gowrimanohari. The swarasancharas were innovative but the performance seemed to lack spirit. ‘Mamavasada' (Kanada-Roopaka tala-Swati Tirunal) had variety and verve, especially since Ambalapuzha Pradeep on the sub-violin made his own contribution to the niraval. ‘Mariveregati' (Anandabhairavi- Misra Chapu tala-Syama Sastri) made an impact with its mellifluous flow of notes. An exquisite alapanam in Poorvikalyani promised much, but was broken off abruptly.

The main item was a ragam tanam pallavi in Kharaharapriya (Tishrajati Tripuda tala), which portrayed the raga in all its nuances. The composition wandered pleasantly into many ragas such as Kaapi and Pantuvarali. Balabhaskar's customised instrument with added reverbs has, in general, a pleasing effect, except that the bass disturbed during the alapana. One could have wished for a muted taniavartanam from Kallekulangara Unnikrishnan (mridangam), Adichanallur Anilkumar (ghatam) and Kottayam S. Murali (morsing), and a more tuneful accompanying on the violin.

Chandankumar is the inheritor of a hoary musical tradition; he is the grandson of legendary violinist Chowdiah. He began his flute concert with a Navaraga varnam.

Interesting sangatis enlivened ‘Vatapi Ganapathim' (Hamsadhwani). ‘Entamuddo Enta sogaso' in raga Bindumalini, ‘Alaipayuthay' in Kanada and ‘Bho shambho swayambho' in Revathi were charming.

One of the Pancharatna kirtanas of Tyagaraja, ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu' (Sree-Adi tala) attested to the youngster's competence. Chandankumar explored Abheri in a comprehensive manner; tiny flourishes of the flute were picked up and echoed by violinist T.H. Subramaniam. Taniavartanam by K.M. Mani (mridangam) and Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatam) was lively.

S. Mahathi is a young singer with great promise. This was evident from her presentation of an outstanding alapanam in Hindolam. A varnam in Abhogi – ‘Mahaganapathim' (Nata) – and ‘Banturiti Golu' in Hamsanadam proclaimed the singer's innate talent and artistry. Mahathi's alapanam is constructed in complicated patterns and her swarasancharas are full of brigas, but the felicity with which she sings makes her style look effortless. ‘Seve sreekantham varadam' in Mohanakalyani was a pleasant surprise. ‘Alaipayuthay' (Kanada), ‘Enna thapam' (Kaapi) and ‘Ramachandra Prabhu' (Sindhubhairavi) comprised the lighter segment of the recital. She cleverly intertwined her own input into the fading notes of the popular kriti ‘Geetadhuniki.' R. Swaminathan accompanied her on the violin, K.B Ganesh on the mridangam, Alapuzha G. Manoharan on the ghatam and Kalamandalam Shyju on the morsing.

Icing on the cake

On the final day of the festival, K.N. Ranganatha Sharma's concert came as the icing on the cake.

‘Sarasiruhasanapriya' (Natai) ‘Nadam Aaduvathillai' (Poorvikalyani-Roopaka) and ‘Nee daya rada'(Vasantha Bhairavi) were dazzling with manodharma swaras, fast-paced sangatis and innovative alapanam. Raga Keeravani was presented through ‘Kaligi yunte gada' (Adi tala-Tyagaraja).

With his rich bass voice, he started in a relaxed mode with the lower register and moved on to a display of notes at the higher end. Niraval was at ‘Bhavuga Sree Raghu.' The violin accompaniment and taniavartanam were exceptional. ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu' (Sree) was sung in textbook style.

The light songs ‘Eppo varuvaro' (Jonpuri) and ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro' (Yamunakalyani) showed the singer at his elegant best; the latter was embellished with a Hindustani classical touch.

Senior artistes Edappally Ajithkumar and Thrissur K. Jayakrishnan accompanied on the violin and the mridangam, respectively. Up-and-coming talents Payyannoor Govindaprasad and Vellattanjoor Sreejith provided able support on the morsing and the ghatam, respectively.