Festival of ragas

Melodic expressions: (clockwise from top left) Sreevalsan J. Menon, O.S.Tyagarajan, Trichur V.Ramachandran and M.K. Sankaran Namboodiri.

Melodic expressions: (clockwise from top left) Sreevalsan J. Menon, O.S.Tyagarajan, Trichur V.Ramachandran and M.K. Sankaran Namboodiri.  


The first six days of the 12-day Theerthapada Sangeetotsavam saw reputed Carnatic vocalists render a wide range of compositions.

The 31st edition of the Theerthapada Sangeetotsavam opened with a Carnatic vocal concert by Sreevalsan J. Menon. His hallmark is the unhurried, stately pace in which he renders compositions.

‘Jagadanandaka,’ a Pancharatna kriti composed by Tyagaraja in Natta, was followed by a lively recital of Swati Tirunal’s ‘Parama Purusha Jagadeeswara Jaya Jaya’ with apt swara prayogas in Vasanta. The composition reminded the rasikas of the late Neyattinkara Vasudevan, who was also Sreevalsan’s guru.

Tyagaraja’s ‘Venuganalole’ in Kedaragoula was noted for its effortless rendering. ‘Anandanadanamaduvan’ in Poorvikalyani was followed by ‘Sree Krishnam Bhajamanasa’ in Thodi, which was the main piece of the evening. He delineated the raga, which was picked up ably by N.V.Babu Narayanan on the violin. Sreevalsan sang the niraval swaras at ‘Pankajasanadhi devam.’ The taniavarthanam that lasted for more than 20 minutes was performed by Trivandrum V.Surendran on the mridangam and Trivandrum Karthikeyan on the ghatam.

The thukkadas included ‘Nama sravana sukham,’ a soothing composition in Yamunakalyani and ‘Sumukhee nin ulthapathino,’ a padam.

Masterly presentations

The second and third day of the music festival saw two veteran Carnatic vocalists, O.S.Tyagarajan and Trichur V.Ramachandran, giving expression to masterful compositions.

O.S. Tyagaran began his concert with a Sahana varnam and followed it with ‘Gurulekha yatu vanti’ in Gowrimanohari. Thulaseevanam’s ‘Bhajamanasa’ in Bahudari came next. ‘Emineramee’ in Sankarabharanam was the highlight of the evening. The kriti was preceded by an exposition of the raga.

T.H.Subramanian moved the bow with finesse, providing a perfect accompaniment to the vocalist. The kriti was set to misra chappu tala. The tani was performed by N.Hari on the mridangam and Kottayam Unnikrishnan on the ghatam. The other compositions included ‘Sellare’ (Ahiri), ‘Karuna elangate’ (Varali), and a slokam, which had shades of Surutti, Hamsanandi and Madhyamavathi.

Trichur V.Ramachandran started off with a Begada varnam and moved to a Thulaseevanam kriti in Atana. The major attraction, however, was the rendering of a ragam tanam pallavi in Kalyani and set to misra chappu tala. The raga was ably reproduced in all its beauty by Thrissur C.Rajendran on the violin. The pallavi was ‘shatara visobha mamava Padmanabham.’

In the tani that followed Manoj Unnikrishnan’s ghatam stood out for its rhythmic phrases. The mridangam was played by Alappuzha G.Chandrasekharan. Trichur V.Ramachandran also rendered kritis in Pantuvarali, Ritigaula and Sudha dhanyasi.

Thoppur Sairam’s concert was marked out for the choice of kritis that have stood the test of time. At the outset, he had ‘Sarasooda,’ a varnam in Saveri set to Adi tala. He continued it with ‘Vallabhanayakarya,’ a Dikshitar kriti in Begada. Tyagaraja’s ‘Manavyala kim’ in Nalinakanti and ‘Sobhillu’ in Jaganmohini, and Syama Sastri’s ‘Marive’ in Anandabhairavi were received with much applause.

Portrait of Kamboji

Kamboji was chosen as the main raga of the evening. He elaborated the subtle qualities of the raga. Trivandrum Mahadevan gave able support on the violin. Sairam recited a sloka ‘Sadchitha shayi bhujagendra shayi’ before moving to the kriti ‘O Rangasayi,’ composed by Tyagaraja and set to Adi tala. The tani had Mavellikara S.R.Raju on the mridangam, Adhichenalloor Anilkumar on the ghatam and Trivandrum Sajikumar on the morsing.

A couple of Thulaseevanam kritis, Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Enna thavam’ (Kappi) and Subramania Bharathi’s ‘Parukulle nala naadu’ (Jaunpuri) were some of the other songs sung by him.

In a loud and resonating voice, Sreeram Gangadharan began his concert with ‘Bhajamanasa’ in Bahudari and moved to present ‘Sreepadmanabham’ and ‘Deva Deva Kalayami’ in Natta and Mayamalavagoula respectively. ‘Sarasasamadana’ in Kappinarayani was followed by a neat delineation of Kharaharapriya. Avaneeswaram S.R.Vinu picked up the raga and gave a neat presentation, which came in for much appreciation from the audience. The kriti was Tyagaraja’s ‘Vidamu seyave.’

Vaikom Venugopal, Perukavu P.L.Sudheer and Neyattinkara Krishnan provided accompaniment on the mridamgam, ghatam and morsing respectively.

Sreeram Gangadharan also rendered ‘Chindabaram pokamal’ immortalised by the late K.B.Sundarambal (Chenchurutti), ‘Varugamalo Ayah’ (Manji), ‘Nalla Sakunam’ (Shanmughapriya) and ‘Radha Samedha Krishna.’

M.K. Sankaran Namboodiri’s recital was noted for his soothing and clear voice. Except for one Tyagaraja composition, ‘Amma Ravamma’ in Kalyani, all the items that he presented was by Thulaseevanam.

Earlier, he commenced with a varnam ‘Sankarasutham’ in Pantuvarali. ‘Bhairavi,’ the main raga with chathusruthi daivatham in arohanam and sudhadaivatham in avarohanam, was presented initially. S. Eswara Varma’s violin followed suit, gliding the bow deftly. The tani had Kadanad V.K.Gopi on the mridangam and Trivandrum Ratheesh on the ghatam.

Some of the compositions Sankaran Namboodiri rendered included ‘Sakalesham kalye’ (Kappi) and ‘Pankajaksha pahi pahi’ (Sindubhairavi followed by a ragamalika comprising Shanmughapria, Valachi, Hamsanandi, Hindolam and Madhyamavathy.

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