With a focus on bringing music and rhythm together on a single grandstand, mridangam maestro Karaikudi Mani celebrates Nandhikeswara Utsav in various venues. In this year’s Winter Music Festival, hosted by Sruthilaya Kendra, he brought together well-known artistes to perform compositions that are embellished with swaras in intricate laya patterns. A team of singers, violinists and percussionists rendered a set of four compositions grouped as ‘Chathur Rathnam’ by Karaikudi Mani.
‘Sri Maha ganapthiravatu mam’ (Gowla, Misra Chapu, Muthuswami Dikshitar), a composition on Ganesha with beautifully embedded rhythmic syllables was the first of the four gems. ‘Sogasuga mridanga talamu’ (Sriranjani, Rupaka, Tyagaraja) that extols the soothing laya of the mridangam, ‘Nandisham vande sada’ (Rishabapriya, Rupaka, Balamuralikrishna) in praise of Nandhikeswara, who is said to have played the mridangam during Shiva’s primordial tandava, and ‘Pahi rama duta’ (Shadvidhamargini, Tyagaraja, Rupaka), a kriti on Anjaneya, were the other songs.
Guru Mani’s characteristic clarity and intelligent strokes on the mridangam could be experienced while he played for these compositions. Trichur Narendran and R. Ramesh supported admirably.
What followed was a grand rendition of songs with intriguing chittaswaras by each musician. Senior vocalist O.S. Thiagarajan presented Guru Surajananda’s ‘Samagana priyakaram’ in Kiravani. Shertalai K.N. Renganatha Sharma sang ‘Saranam Vijayasaraswathi maye’, a composition by Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar, in raga Vijayasaraswathi. Senior mridangist Mannargudi Easwaran joined guru Karaikudi Mani to play for this composition.
Sreyas Narayanan’s ‘Ninne bhajana’ (Nattai, Adi, Tyagraja) and Dr. Narayanan’s ‘Guni janaadinuta’ (Gurjari, Adi, Dikshitar) were pleasant and melodious. Yet another graceful rendition was ‘Vanchatonuna’ (Karnaranjani, Tisra Adi, Muthiah Bhagavatar) by Mambalam Sisters, Vijayalakshmi and Chitra.
The violinists V.V. Srinivasa Rao, Madurai Balasubramaniam, Durai Swaminathan and V. Deepika took turns to accompany the singers in a well-coordinated manner.
Varalakshmi Anandkumar sang the Papanasam Sivan composition ‘Kapali’ in Mohanam by Papanasam Sivan, with its interesting patterns flowing effortlessly.
Vidya Kalyanaraman delivered the Ranjani raga composition by Ganapathi Sachidananda Swami, ‘Dattatreya trimurti rupa’, with all its elegance. Padmavathi Saranathan took up Muthiah Bhagavatar’s composition in the rare raga Pasupatipriya, ‘Saravanabhava’, which has brisk chittaswaras set in an enjoyable nadai and skilfully presented it
Shyam Sundar, Sai Shiv and Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam) demonstrated their proficiency while accompanying the musicians.
The Nandhikeswara Utsav concluded with Swati Tirunal’s ‘Bhujaga sayino’ in Yadukula Kamboji.