Lalitha Kala Vedika, a cultural organisation helmed by the family of BVSS Mani, has been contributing its mite to the city’s art scene since 1995. Founder-patron, the late BVSS Mani, an eminent industrialist, philanthropist and patron of the arts, was a long-standing president and lifetime trustee of Sri Krishna Gana Sabha and also the Dharmadhikari of the Sringeri Math, George Town.
Dedicated to the patriarch’s memory, the evening’s programme began with a talk on Tallapakam Annamacharya by scholar V.A.K. Ranga Rao, followed by a vocal concert of Annamayya compositions, by Archana and Aarati (disciples of R. Vedavalli).
They were accompanied by violinist Sudha R.S. Iyer (disciple of Lalitha Raghavan) and percussionists Sumesh Narayanan (mridangam, disciple of Tiruvarur Bhaktavatsalam) and S. Krishna (ghatam, disciple of V. Suresh and S. Karthick).
Off to a flying start with ‘Namo Namo Raghukula Nayaka’ (Nattai), prefaced with an invocatory verse in praise of Annamayya, the twins steered a brisk course through the close-knit madhyama kala sahitya, clearly enunciated, with a clutch of crisp kalpanaswara thrown in and rounded off with a neatly executed korvai. ‘Alarulu Kuriyaga Naadenadhey’ (Sankarabharanam) mirrored the pace of the previous composition. However, a brief halt at ‘Chindula Paatala’ provided a welcome reflective niche. Niraval at ‘Kanduva Tiruvenkatapathi’ with emphasis on the emotive appeal of ‘Alamelmanga’ drew an empathetic response from the violinist, who mined bhava-rich phrases. The stand-alone sankirtana ‘Natanala Bramayaku’ (Lalitha) brought in a studied contrast, with pace that slowed and mellowed to allow raga bhava and sahitya bhava to seep through. In the anupallavi, the sisters cashed in on the opportunity to render lines in simultaneous parallels in two octaves, the madhya and tara sthayi, an effective device that made for heightened aesthetics.Kedaragowla, the first alapana in the programme, was sketched with involvement, the smooth contouring reflecting the confidence born of familiarity with the essentiality of the raga. The delineation reflected disciplined groundwork, particularly evident in the panchama and tara sthayi shadja suites buttressed with characteristic pidis. Sudha’s reply was pat, although the delivery could have done with a tad more punch, to better offset the plethora of gentle glides.
The chittaswaram as well as the line-up of sangatis in ‘Koluvudi Bhakthi Kondalakoneti’ drew attention, particularly the octave-spanning madhya sthayi rishabha to tara sthayi rishabha quicksilver flash in the pallavi.Who can remain unmoved by the bhakti-laden sway of ‘Entha Maathramuna’ (ragamalika) immortalised in M.S. Subbalakshmi’s emotion-charged offering? Inspired by the evocative original, there was immersion in the lyric and passion in rendition, lighting up the way to the electrifying final verses.
A well-structured exposition of the main raga, Bhairavi, stood out for attention paid to anuswara detailing at the madhyama-panchama suite. Manodharma took wing from full throated sancharas. The duo launched into ‘Aadi Purusha’ with vigour.It was an exuberant tani that rang out from the mridangam and the ghatam. Dextrous fingers coaxed sollus that retained clarity even in rapid fire exchanges, as Sumesh and Krishna breezed into unplugged mode that jolted rasikas out of their caution zone, spurring them into a vociferous display of appreciation.With their musical instincts evolving from a firm foundation, strengthened by commensurate effort and a good understanding of kutcheri dynamics, the young, enthusiastic artists did their respective gurus proud.