DUO With a finger on the audience pulse, Saroja and Lalitha presented a classic fare. LALITHAA KRISHNAN

F or artists seeking to leave their footprints on the sands of time, staying power is as much about investing in indelible classical values as about gauging the pulse of the audience. This truth was brought home in the vocal concert of the Bombay Sisters, C. Saroja and C. Lalitha. With several fruitful decades of professional success and service to the cause of art behind them, the veteran vidushis regaled rapt listeners with sumptuous fare in their New Year eve recital.

Sedate alapana

Tyagaraja's ‘Orajoopu' (Kannadagowla) unfolded with dyed in the wool sampradaya sangatis. Lalitha's absorbing Kalyani scripted with grandeur and grace, was an aural treat. The alapana swayed with sedate majesty towards the panchama from which jarus dipped in supple loops. While time-honoured pidis anchored the dhaivata from which madhyamakala whorls radiated, shadja-varja phrases added interest to the nishada plane.

A perfectly pitched shadja and rishabha with Spartan passages formed an ideal foil to the graceful oscillations centred at the powerfully held tara stayi gandhara complemented by vadi-samvadi and chiselled prayogas.

The descent traced a smooth gradient where delicacy came to the fore in polished sancharas. The very conception, execution and pace stood testimony to vidwat and enduring values, even as voice resonated with the depth and conviction of a lifetime dedicated to music. The Tyagaraja kriti, “Nammi Vachina,” was suffixed with elaborate niraval distinguished by richly layered manodharma and kalpanaswaras rolled out with elan in two speeds.

“Maal Maruga,” a lovely Papanasam Sivan kriti in Vasanta sparkled with emotive highlights, the mudra emphasised through sensitive articulation. That there can be no substitute for the maturity and wisdom conferred by time and experience was fully borne out by Saroja's vintage Khambodi alapana buttressed with rock-solid pidis and sancharas that trailed off to appreciative nods from connoisseurs. The exposition carried punch sans aggression, in a scholarly overview that blended essential elements with consummate ease.

In Gopalakrishna Bharati's “Thiruvadi Charanam,” the sangatis sprang to life, suffused with bhava, as lyric and melody fused in piety to transmit the composer's impassioned plea in kriti and niraval at “Aduthu Vanda Yennai.”

As twin voices rang out in communion with the spirit of the composition, you realised how deeply it had been internalised. Fluid sarvalaghu kalpanaswaras in two speeds were dappled with light and shade.

Mysore V. Srikanth's violin essays were tempered by skill and sensitivity. His Kalyani delineation was admirably fine tuned to the vocalist's creative wavelength. In Khambodi, rapid fire prayogas from the tara sthayi gandhara skimmed airily across three octaves in refreshing contrast to the controlled movements across each suite. Palladam Ravi (mridangam) and Madipakkam Murali (ghatam) collaborated in a fine display of percussive expertise that stimulated and soothed in apt proportion.