Gayatri’s concert offered glimpses of Syama Sastri’s composing brilliance

K. Gayatri’s Syama Sastri day concert featured not just his compositions but also those by Subbaraya Sastri and Annaswami Sastri

June 09, 2023 04:11 pm | Updated June 15, 2023 04:31 pm IST

K. Gayatri performing for Madhuradhwani.

K. Gayatri performing for Madhuradhwani. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Vocalist K. Gayatri’s recent concert for Madhuradhwani featured compositions by Syama Sastri and his sishyas belonging to the composer’s lineage. Compared to his contemporaries Syama Sastri has lesser number of kritis to his credit. Nevertheless, each of the compositions, thanks to their uniqueness, stands out as an aesthetic blend of bhava, raga and tala.

Gayatri, disciple of Suguna Purushothaman and Suguna Varadachari, brought out the devotional flavour of the kritis in a commendable manner. This was particularly evident in the Yadukulakamboji swarajathi ‘Kamakshi’ (Misra Chapu) rendered in a chowka kala kalapramanam. It was preceded by a creatively structured alapana. The response on the violin by R.K. Shriram Kumar bore the stamp of his characteristic style. With him on the violin, Arun Prakash on the mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on the kanjira, Gayatri could establish the primacy of lakshya, of course, without compromising on the lakshana.

Elaborate Bhairavi

The piece-de-resistance was the Bhairavi kriti, ‘Sari evaramma’, preceded by an exhaustive raga exposition, where Gayatri highlighted the essence of the raga in her own way. Shriram Kumar’s response was tuneful and soothing. The composition has a built-in chittaswara and a swarasahitya. The kalpanaswaras were at the charanam line ‘Madhava sodari’, with ‘Ma’ as the swarakshara. The swaraprastara was also ornamented by a generous scattering of ‘Ma’.

If it is Arun Prakash, one can look forward to a sparkling thani. In this concert too, duetting along with Anirudh (kanjira), he offered a memorable thani.

Gayatri began the evening with the Begada varnam ‘Dayanidhe mamava’, by Syama Sastri, after a brief virutham. Yet another chowka kala rendition was ‘Pahi sri girirajasuthe’ in Anandabhairavi with chittaswaram. She rendered the first (‘Devi purani nigama vinute’) and the third (‘Kamita dhatri’) charanams. Kalpanaswaras were at the pallavi line.

Yet another impressive elucidation was that of Varali, and Shriram Kumar, as is to be expected, came up with a stirring response. ‘Bangaru Kamakshi’ in Misra Chapu with chittaswaras was the chosen kriti. The niraval at ‘Suka shyamale siva sankari’ and the swaraprastara were embellished by Shriram Kumar and Arun Prakash.

Though the concert was themed on kritis by Syama Sastri, Gayatri also sang two kritis by Annaswami Sastri, who was a disciple and nephew (adopted son) of Subbaraya Sastri – one of them being ‘Sri kanchi nayike’ in a well-constructed Saranga.

Gayatri concluded her recital with ‘Vanajasana Vinuta’, a Sri raga kriti by Subbaraya Sastri, son and sishya of Syama Sastri, with the customary chittaswara and swara sahitya.

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