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Celebrating melody and rhythm

The 10-day Swati Sangeetotsavam showcased unsullied classical music at its best.

Photos: S. Mahinsha

Vignettes: Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna

The curtain came down on the tenth edition of the Swati Sangeetotsavam with a sparking concert by Ranjini-Gayatri. The second half of the fete featured a veena concert by Aswathy Thirunal Rama Varma, and vocal concerts by Amrutha Venkatesh, Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna, Thamarakad Govindan Namboothiri and Ranjini-Gayatri.

Rama Varma, accompanied by B. Harikumar (mridangam), Manjoor Unnikrishnan (ghatom) and Kottayam Murali (morsing), came up with a scintillating recital that included a vocal rendering of a couple of kritis.

Aswathy Thirunal Rama Varma

A swaram-enriched ‘Kripayapalaya’ in Charukeshi was followed by ‘Rama rama paahi rama’ in Bhoopalam. Prior to playing it on the veena and simultaneously singing the song, he gave a brief explanation of the raga and its salient features by contrasting it with Revagupti. After ‘Palayamamayibho’ in Khamas came ‘Bhavayami raghuramam’ and the melodious ‘Bhogeendra shyayinam’ in Kunthalavarali.

Behag masterpiece

The piece de resistance was ‘Smarajanaka’ in Behag. Preceded by a sweet but elaborate ragamalika thanam in Behag, Kapi and Panthuvarali, Rama Varma portrayed the raga in all its melting melody. He wound up the concert with ‘Vishweshwar’ in Sindhubhairavi and by singing ‘Aaj aaye shyaam’ in Mishr Pahadi.

Twenty-year-old Amrutha Venkatesh started her concert with ‘Sarasijanabha.’ ‘Palayamamayibho’ in Kamas and ‘Sreekumara’ in Atana preceded ‘Kanjanabha’ in Saranga. Amrutha came good in this kriti. Her deep and pliable voice was in form as she decorated the composition with some interesting swarams. Next came ‘Santhatham’ in Bilahari, for which she sang the neraval at ‘Shreenidhim ambujanabham.’

Rajini and Gayatri

Despite her youth, Amrutha’s poise and traditional mooring were evident as she rendered the main keerthanam – ‘Anjaneya’ in Saveri. The thukkadas were ‘Chaliye,’ ‘Bhaja Bhaja Manasa,’ ‘Raajeevaksha Baro’ and ‘Saramaina.’ Here is one singer to watch out for.

Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna is yet another young singer who has made a mark in the festival. He was accompanied by Mahadeva Sharma (violin), Palghat Maheshkumar (mridangam) and Sudhir (ghatom).

Balamuralikrishna began with a melodious raga alapana and followed it up with a varnam in Kamas.

Bhava-laden rendition

A bhava-laden Asaveri composition ‘Palaya Madhava’ was warmly welcomed by rasikas. ‘Ahahanaiva jaaney’ in Amrithavarshini was adorned with a quick alapana and swarams.

Amrutha Venkatesh.

Mahadeva Sharma’s artistry came to the fore during the alapana and he made each phrase sparkle. ‘Santhatham’ in Bilahari was followed by ‘Pahitharakshu’ in Anandabhairavi and ‘Mamava Jagadeeshwara’ in Saraswathimanohari.

Stickler for tradition

Thamarakad Govindan Namboothiri, an uncompromising stickler for tradition, showcased his virtuosity and classicism. Even his selection of songs highlighted his preference for scholarship.

He chose to begin his recital with a stately and dignified ‘Vanajaksha,’ a varnam in Saveri. ‘Smaramanasa Padmanabha’ in Durbar was followed by ‘Paripalaya Sarasiruha’ in Panthuvarali. ‘Pankajakshanam rameshan,’ a Malayalam composition in Thodi, was rendered in a slow pace. The popular ‘Gopalaka’ was a wise choice after the heavy Thodi kriti.

‘Rasavilasa’ in Kamboji was the main piece. The surprise of the evening was ganjira player Udipi Srikanth who came up with a pleasing performance. After the thaniavarthanam Thamarakad sang ‘Gopala’ in Bagishri and concluded his recital with ‘Kantha thava pizha’ in Atana and ‘Kosalendra.’

The last concert of this edition by Ranjini-Gayatri was impressive. They were accompanied by Mysore Srikanth (violin), Arunprakash (mridangam) and Udipi Sridhar (ghatam). The sisters began with the Kamas varnam ‘Chalamela.’ The selection of compositions, their clear melodious voices and pleasing style of presentation made it a memorable concert.

Remarkable synchronisation

The remarkable synchronisation between the sisters saved it from becoming a group presentation found in schools.

A crisp ‘Palayamam’ in Nayaki was followed by a raga alapana of Charukesi by Ranjini. ‘Kripayapalaya’ was the kriti. Next came a mellifluous ‘Gangeyavasana’ in Hamirkalyani. ‘Ramachandra’ in Poornachandrika and ‘Saadaramava’ in Suruti were sung by the sisters. The sisters seemed to have their fingers on the pulse of the audience as each piece was welcomed with applause.

The main was ‘Janani’ in Bhairavi, followed by Thani. The thukkadas were ‘Bhaja bhajamanasa,’ ‘Kanthanodu’ in Neelambari, ‘Smarajanaka’ in Behag and a superb Hindustani composition ‘Shankarasrigiri’ in Hamsanandi.

Their glittering performance to a packed venue brought the fete to an end. Bathed in moonlight the picturesque Kuthiramalika seemed all set for its next edition of the festival.


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