Ranjani-Gayathri’s challenging dwiraga RTP

Ranjani and Gayathri performing at Brahma Gana Sabha during December Music Festival, 2019 in Chennai   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

The vocal duo Ranjani-Gayathri began their concert on a distinctly traditional note with Pallavi Gopala Iyer’s varnam ‘Entho Prema Thone’ (Suruti) followed by the Muthuswami Dikshitar kriti ‘Pavanathmaja’ (Nattai) highlighted by chittaswaram and sarvalaghu kalpanaswaras.

Gayathri’s elaborate alapana of raga Ranjani had its fair share of captivating moments. With pivotal passages circling the dhaivata and with jaru playing a starring role, wide sweeping arcs and dips linked landing points to swaras, spotlighting vadi-samvadi. However, voice has a certain natural trajectory — one that forms the basis of that which is identifiable as the ‘vocal vocabulary’, known as ‘gayaki ang’ in Hindustani classical parlance, to which instrumental music aspires.

Gayathri, surprisingly, allowed the instrumentalist in her to gain the upper hand, using her thin, pliant voice as a precision brush to paint several passages, both familiar and rarefied. Interestingly, violinist Charumathi Raghuraman’s alapana, equally grounded in melody, had a predominantly vocal approach. Swarakalpana explored roads less travelled, reaching their destination with a korvai that banked on the raga’s signature phrase ‘srgs’.

Intensity and deep involvement added lustre to the rendition of ‘Yaarendru Raghavanai’ (Yadukula Khambodi), the moving Rama Natakam composition in which Lakshmana reassures Sita about Rama’s invincibility (Maricha episode).

Ranjani took the reflective route in a Thodi main exposition that had meditative rests at the madhyama and telling karvais at the panchama. The tara sthayi suite was finessed by Gayathri, who aired a tantalising swara bheda episode, both vocalists largely opting for madhyamakala sancharas, wisely lessening voice strain at the start of the Season. Built around time-honoured pidis, Charumathi’s response held majesty, depth and tonal fluidity. The kalapramana for ‘Gajavadana’ (Kumara Ettendra) was leisurely, affording ample scope for highlighting sahitya bhava and the compelling chittaswaram.

Post a spirited ‘Paradevathe’ (Manirang, Papanasam Sivan), a dwiraga RTP in Bilahari-Garudadhwani came as a challenging exercise pulled off with elan. While both are janya ragas of Sankarabharanam, Bilahari (audava-sampoorna) is often heard. Garudadhwani (sampoorna-audava) with a preponderance of plainer notes and carrying a piquant flavour, is more favoured by instrumentalists. The mirror-imaging concept also extended to the tala chosen — Chatusra Triputa, misra nadai, structured as (3,4) in purvanga and (4,3) in uttaranga and to the pallavi lyrics ‘Hari Lahari Bilahari …..’ — following ‘Srotovaha yati’ (purvanga) and ‘Gopucha yati’ (uttaranga). It was a gutsy experiment that worked except for a few glitches.

While Ranjani handled Bilahari alapana and tanam, Gayathri shouldered Garudadhwani, her instrumentalist’s vision actually showcasing the raga to advantage by overriding a vocalist’s natural instincts. Alternating and juxtaposing the two ragas, the sisters sprinted towards a scintillating swara session. In all, an enthusiastic, energetic outing, though a tad overstretched.

Charumathi Raghuraman (violin) contributed graceful alapanas aglow with warmth and spot-on kalpanaswara volleys. Delhi Sairam (mridangam) and K.V. Gopalakrishnan (ganjira) fashioned an engrossing tani avartanam marked by robustness.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 10:40:49 AM |

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