A melodious melange

Carnatic vocalists Ranjani Gayathri. Photo: V.V.Krishnan

Carnatic vocalists Ranjani Gayathri. Photo: V.V.Krishnan  

Musical duo Ranjani and Gayatri chose popular compositions and ragas of traditional Carnatic music.

Tonal clarity, wide range and reach, adherence to classicality of Carnatic music are some of the forte of Ranjani and Gayatri. Their recent recital at Sri Ramanavami Music Festival here had many plus points: they chose compositions across all composers; they chose popular ragas as well as known kritis; towards the end, they tapered off with devotionals including Abhang. The duo are keen artistes with judicious sense of audience' taste.

They began with Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar's Gam Ganapathe in Hamsadhwani. The lyrics as usual with this particular composer, were rich in import and had a touch of melody to them. The sisters did full justice to the ragabhava and the chittaswaram was like the icing on the cake. The sprinkling of swarakalpana by Ranjani served to enhance the invocatory kriti. Despite making an announcement that they would be rendering a very popular kriti (made so by MS) of Dikshitar in Brindavana Saranga, a very melodic raga, the duo displayed no creativity whatsoever either by way of alapana or improvisation.

The kriti, Rangapura vihaara as such took off to a good start, with the sangathees in absolute perfection but it didn't go beyond that. We felt we heard an authentic rendition of the lyric, but were a tad disappointed that it was not given the treatment it warranted, more so because it was a Dikshitar kriti and though in the classicality of things, the raga may be treated as ‘light', at least an alapana would have lifted it to the heights the lyric deserved. The Sanskrit diction was not entirely blemish-free (for eg. Shyamalanga was pronounced with a hard stress on the first syllable and rollover at the end) which sounded a bit odd. The trailing off with an akaaram every time they came back to the pallavi did not gel with the rendition as such.

A lengthy alapana by Ranjani in Kalyani brought out the nuances of this popular, pratimadhyama raga as she scaled the heights in a steady manner in full control of her medium. But what followed as the lyric was like a thud to the ground it was Purandharadasa's piece, Kallu sakkara kolliro which was good in content but definitely did not give scope for elaboration or embellishment, by virtue of it being totally a dasaranama (devotional) genre. The neraval at sankata bhakta naali kesava vibho seemed an extensive exercise as was the swarakalpana. While we were led to surmise that this was the centrepiece of the evening's concert, well it was not. A drutha kaalai kriti in Malavi, idi nyayama Sri Ramachandra, a Patnam Subramania Iyer composition with its chittaswaram which both the sisters shared was the redeeming feature of this ragam.

Gayatri's prefacing of the Keeravani, the 21st melakarta which is vested with an inherent cadence lifted the concert to a new high. Kaligiyunte gada kamitha phaladaayaka, the eloquent Thyagaraja kriti drifted like a placid stream with the duo vesting it with lovely sangathees and the neraval at baguga Sri Raghuramuni paadamula was an excursion in technical creativity alternating between the two; each giving the raga and the lyric their individualistic stress as they made their trips through the line. It was followed by a volley of improvisation that was as sweet and sugary as the raga itself.

The only sore point that came up time and again was one of them picking up before the other trailed off, which seemed to overlap and cut short the natural conclusion of the artist. This minor hiccup apart, the tailpiece (muktayi) was wonderful to say the least. Violinist Ganesh was up to the mark. The taniavarthanam by the mridangist Sairam was energetic.

The Tulsidas verse with a viruttam and song in YamanKalyan (Janaki nath) was rendered with a very Hindustani diction, so rare among south Indian musicians. To their credit, it must be acknowledged that the duo were faithful to the language, be it the Abhang or the Tulsi devotional in Hindi. The recital was hosted at Andhra Yuvati Mandali under the aegis of Sanatana Dharma Prachara Parishat as part of its music concert series.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 6:11:10 PM |

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