The choice of kritis made the recital of Kolkata sisters an aural treat. Ranjani Sivakumar’s raga alapanas showcased her subtle style. U.K.
The vocal duet of Kolkata Sisters was enjoyable, with the voices of Chitra and Kala complementing each other, and they sang in unison with perfect alignment to sruthi.
Students of the late Calcutta S. Krishnamurthy, and L. N. Gurumurthy, they presented three of latter’s compositions, in Ranjani, Sankarabharanam and Sindhubhairavi.
They began with ‘Sarasuda,’ the Saveri varnam and proceeded to ‘Sri Muladhara Chakra Vinayaka’ of Dikshitar in Sri ragam, which was full of bhava; a neat presentation, they maintained the slow tempo throughout. The brisk rendition of ‘Panjanadisa Pahimam’ of Patnam Subramanya Iyer in Poornachandrika, with several rounds of interesting kalpanaswaras, was a bit lacking in synchronisation.
The soulful composition, ‘Ranjani Sivaranjani Priyaranjani’ in Ranjani, with chittaswaram, was preceded by raga alapna with Chitra starting and Kala giving the finishing touches. The beauty of the raga was brought out in their enunciation despite some small flaws, and there was a long spell of kalpanaswara as well.
Violinist Neela Jayakumar’s experience showed in her clear essay of Ranjani.
Before the sisters took up the main piece, a well executed ‘Rama Ramana Bharama,’ Tyagaraja’s Vasanthabhairavi kriti, served as a melodic filler.
Though the raga alapana of Sankarabharanam was not lacking in quality, (initiated by Chitra and later taken up by Kala for a while) the effect was not felt because, in the latter half, frequent alternating between them took away the lustre. Here again, the violinist proved her skill and brought out a satisfying Sankarabharanam. The outstanding composition, ‘Brihadeeswaraya Namaste’ (in Akshaya Linga Vibho style) in Rupaka talam, was presented well with lengthy niraval at ‘Nithyaya Trinetraya Tribhuvana’ where the sisters vied with each other to create the effect they missed in alapana. The kalpanaswara included two speeds with the usual kuraippu.
The mridangam artist V. R. Jayakumar and S. Sunil Kumar on the ganjira were great support and played with good understanding of the kritis. They combined to give a good thani.
The sisters concluded with ‘Navadhundhubhi’ in Madhuvanti and a dazzling Sindhubhairavi thillana.
When three youngsters, Ranjani Sivakumar, the vocalist, Pappu Gyan Dev, the violinist, and Akshay Ram, the mridangam artist, each with her/his own long list of accomplishments, get together, could it be anything but a real treat for the audience?
Ranjani with her mellifluous voice opened with Mysore Vasudevachar’s Khambodi raga kriti ‘Lambodhara’ and sang a short spell of niraval and swaras at ‘Surabhusura Samsevitam.’
‘Elani Dayaradu’ in Atana (preceded by an abbreviated version of the essence of the raga) was presented with good modulation and instead of the usual ‘Ra Ra Devadideva,’ Ranjani sang the other two charanams. The beauty and subtlety of Hamsanadam was brought out beautifully in the raga alapana, and the violinist played an equally beautiful version of the raga. Oothukkadu’s ‘Kalyana Rama’ was rendered well with a few kalpanaswaras at ‘Mallikadisugandhamaya’ in two speeds. Tyagaraja’s ‘Nadaloludai’ in Kalyanavasantham, which followed, was enchanting.
The main raga was Bilahari. Ranjani with her full understanding of when and where to control her voice, brought out the aesthetics of the raga with melody filled phrases. The violinist showcased a different dimension of the raga by emphasising on the lilt and gave an equally good account. ‘Dorakuna Ituvanti Seva,’ the Tyagaraja composition was presented in a grand manner as befits the kriti, with a good but brief round of niraval and swara at ‘Ramabrahma Tanayudau.’
The thani by Akshay Ram was ‘amarkkalam.’ The enthusiastic youngster played well throughout, but should remember that, for these mike-less concerts in a small hall, the mridangam playing should be subdued so that it does not drown the voice of the artist. Ranjani gave a befitting end to the concert with a Tiruppugazh, ‘Karipurari Kamari’ in Bahudari and Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s Paras thillana.
Though it was a neat and satisfying performance, it was felt that niraval and kalpanaswaras could have been more elaborate, considering also the fact that she concluded the concert well before the allotted time.