Combining virtuosity and melody

Akkarai Subhalakshmi (left) and Akkarai Sornalatha during Vasanthotsavam in Thrissur.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

Vasanthothsavam 2018, a nine-day festival of music and dance held at Seethaaramaswamy Temple, Thrissur, showcased select performances by ace artistes.

On the opening day, Abhishek Raghuram chose compositions by Tyagaraja. He opened with Giri raja sudha in Bangala, Adi. Raghuram’s penchant for exploring each composition with sangatis, niravals and swaras was evident as he shifted to Thodi and when he sang Vedalenu kodandapani in Roopakam, followed by Seethapathi in Kamas.The main raga, which was Saveri, was treated exhaustively and the swaras came in quick tempo. While ingenious phrases could be heard, a proclivity for excessive embellishments seemed counterproductive. The composition was Balamu Kulamu in Adi (trisa gati).

Abhishek Raghuram during Vasanthotsavam in Thrissur.

Abhishek Raghuram during Vasanthotsavam in Thrissur.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

Raghuram was commendably supported on the violin by Akkarai Subhalakshmi. The percussion was handled by N.C. Bharadwaj on the mridangam and M. Krishna on the ghatam and tani too was noteworthy. Perhaps, the only non-Tyagaraja composition was Arabhimanam...of Tharangambadi Panchanada Iyer in Ragamalika, Adi.

On the second day, Akkarai Subhalakshmi proved a seasoned vocalist in the duet with her sister Akkarai Sornalatha. A short Saranga varnam Inthamodi in Adi was delectable. Tyagaraja composition Seethamma mayamma in Roopakam was prefixed with a short alap. Ramanathapuram Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar’s Parama pavana rama papa vimochana in Poorvikalyani was rendered emotively. Tyagaraja’s mood of desperation that is evident in the composition Emanatichedivo in Roopakam was effectively conveyed in the rendition. After a short Sarasa samadana in Kapinarayani, Thodi was taken up for comprehensive elaboration.

O.S. Arun

O.S. Arun   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

Myriad shades of the raga unfurled as the duo did it in turn with the popular composition Emi jesite nemi in Misra chap. The niraval at Vara mantra manyula nemi was decorated with a flow of swaras, with improvisations by the musicians in the form of a dialogue. Percussion by K. Maheshkumar on the mridangam and Vazhappilly Krishnakumar on ghatam was enjoyable.

S. Saketharaman at Vasanthothsavam.

S. Saketharaman at Vasanthothsavam.   | Photo Credit: K.K. Najeeb

On the third day, a sterling recital by O.S.Arun was marked by perfect sruti and clarity of diction. The Hamsadwani number Karunai seivai in Adi by Papanasam Sivan was inspiring. Ranganathude in Sourashtram was followed by Karpaga manohara on Siva in Malayamarutham, Khantachap. Tyagaraja’s Seetha pathe, a popular Kamas number, was presented as a continuation of Ramabhakthi samrajyam in Sudhabangala. His musical prowess was discernible in the Sankarabharanam composition of Tyagaraja — Enduku peddala... in Adi, the main raga of the concert. While the raga covered three sthayis, the tara sthayi was especially graceful. Violinist Attukal Subramanian supported the vocalist while Nanjil Arul was on the mridangam and Mangad Promod on the ghatam.

Arun’s selections for the latter part were in line with the fundamental principles of a concert that it should enable the listeners to relax after the heavy portrayal of the main raga. Thamburu meeti in Sindhubhairavi and Amba vani in Kapi were followed by bhajans of Surdas and Tulsidas. He wound up the session with Sree Ramachandra kripalu in Yamunakalyani.

S. Saketharaman’s recital proved that his main strength is his ability to breathe bhava into compositions in the right measure, apart from having an absolute control over his voice. Rakshamam saranagatham in Natta, Adi was followed by Kalaharana of Tyagaraja in Sudhasaveri and Adi, which served as an exposition of his swara prasthara. Saketharaman struck a chord with the audience by breaking into a short alap of Suruti. The slow tempo in which Swati’s Alarsara parithapam was delivered was remarkable. In contrast to this, Brova bharama in Bahudari, a Tyagaraja composition, was faster. The song being the main number, Saketharaman chose Bhairavi for a vivid portrayal. His concern for melody was evident in the sancharas in three sthayis.

M.R. Gopinath amply supported him on the violin while Sreemushnam Rajarao was on the mridangam. His tani with Kovai Suresh on the ghatam was praiseworthy on account of tonal variations and rhythmic flourishes. After the Sriranjini composition of Papanasam Sivan’s, Kana vendamo Ayyane, he concluded with a few lines from Jnanapana.

The festival’s finale proved memorable with a scintillating performance by Ranjani-Gayatri sisters. The request for more bhajans, especially towards the end of the three-and-a-half-hour concert indicated the rapport the duo had established with the audience. After an energising Jaya jaya jaya Janakikantha, a Natta composition of Purandaradasa, Rangapura vihara in Brindavana Saranga met with applause. Poorvikalyani was elaborated by Ranjini on a wide canvas for the composition Jnana Mosaga Rada. Niraval at ‘Paramatmadu’ was delivered in turn with melodic flavour. For the second time during the festival, the Bhairavi number Yaaro ivar Yaaro... appeared as the main raga.

Accompaniment by L. Ramakrishnan on the violin, Sai Giridhar on the mridangam and Manjoor Unnikrishnan on the ghatam was praiseworthy. The tani was a percussion marvel. The second part embraced Ramanai bhajithal in Mandu and Tulsi bhajan Sri Ramachandra kripalu, presented in ragamalika.

Amruta Venkatesh, Kunnaikkudi Balamuralikrishna and S. Sowmya also performed for the fete. A Mohiniyattam recital by Parvathy Jayaram was the only dance performance.

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Printable version | Mar 3, 2021 2:15:20 PM |

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