Mesmerising mandolins

DUET The brothers shared a good understanding

DUET The brothers shared a good understanding   | Photo Credit: Photo: V. Ganesan

The brothers, Srinivas and Rajesh, dished up a grand treat

When music artistes double up as spirited stage performers, the entertainment value goes up by several folds. The mandolin concert of U. Srinivas and U. Rajesh at the Ramaseva Mandali, Chamarajpet, last weekend was exactly this. It was an evening of melody and modesty from the mandolin brothers, what with big brother Srinivas leading the three-hour concert with absolute ease…smiling, encouraging and cheering his accompanists . The brothers dedicated the post-thani avarthana session to graciously fulfil the serpentine list of requests. What stamped the mandolin king as distinctive was his idea of having thavil (Dhol) - along with ghata - instead of mridanga, which altered the overall effect, nevertheless, enjoyable. The shrill tone of the two mandolins and the high-pitched beats of the thavil did have some piercing moments, but the open-pandal with good wooden flooring absorbed the decibel levels. The mandolins were accompanied by H.K.Venkatram on the violin, Thanjavur Govindarajan on thavil and S.V.Ramani on ghata.

It was worth observing the diverse facets of the mandolin brought through by Srinivas in his inimitable style. Be it the incessant run of his fingers on the instrument for a three-kala Abhogi varna or his handling of “Shobillu Saptaswara” (Jaganmohini) in almost the same pace, the affable understanding he shared with Rajesh came through. While the local crowd sounded cheerful when Srinivas announced “Gajavadana” in Hamsadwani, their joy was amplified when their request for Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s “Raghuvamsha Sudha” in Kathanakutoohala was met with feisty. The assortment of sangathis, lilting phrases and his soft meanderings on straight swaras gave ample scope for varied handling and the spaces that Srinivas provided for the thavil and ghata to intermingle was something only a seasoned musician could offer. It was in Tyagaraja’s “Yentha Muddo” that the brothers alternated with base strings for a sublime touch to raga Bindumalini.

And if you thought the mandolin brothers were known only for speed, just hold on. The handling of the main raga Kalyani brought out their sense and feel for the sampoorna raga. Srinivas handled the notes ever so gently, which sometimes turned into a whisper. The slow, contemplative phrases was received with maturity by an audience that refused to even breathe heavily. Patnam Subramanya Iyer’s “Nijadasa varada” was grand.

Although this reporter heard comments that a mridanga would have brought in the much-needed restraint for a Carnatic cutcheri, it was the over-riding satisfaction of the melodic combo that made one accept such newer perspectives. After all, who wouldn’t agree that the camaraderie that Mandolin Srinivas shared with the rhythm makers was so charming that often one caught oneself intently drawn in.


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