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A musical extravaganza

by Abbi

Malladi brothers

Two Carnatic vocal duets organized by the SGBS(Sri Guruvayurappan Bhajan Samaj) Trust on 17th and 18th August at Unnati Centre, Bangalore, bore stamps of class.

At the outset, the trust must be complimented for the yeomen service being rendered by them for uplifting the have-nots by providing vocational training and placement through their programme ‘Unnati’. The cultural activities organized by them through the other programme ‘Utsav’ is for the benefit of general public with the objective of preserving and promoting arts and culture. I do hope that the Trust, apart from hosting concerts by prominent artists, does encourage budding artists by providing them the platform for showcasing their talent.

Coming to the concerts, the Priya sisters gave a scintillating performance on Friday, the 17th August at the Unnati auditorium. They began the concert with ‘Vanajakshi’ varnam in the raga Kalyani followed by Dikshitar Krithi ‘Panchamatangamukha Ganapati’ (Malahari). The rendition brought out the Bhakti and raga bhava in ample measure enhancing the beauty of the krithi. Next item was a krithi ‘logavana chatura’ a composition of saint Tyagaraja in the raga Begada. The rendition was deft and crisp. The sisters then sang ‘Ganamurthe’, a melakartha raga preceded by raga alapana. Papanasam Sivan’s padam Idadupadam Thooki Adum in raga kamas catapulted the audience.

Priya Sisters
Priya sisters then took up ‘Thodi’ raga for alapana which was bhava oriented. The composition ‘Rajuvetala Joota Murare’ with niraval for the line ‘kaveri teeramu nanu’ and swaras revealed their vidwat in revealing the nuances of the raga. One thought that this would be the main piece of the concert but to the pleasant surprise of the audience, the duo took up ‘Mohanam’ for rendering Ragam, Thanam and Pallavi. It was a marathon exercise paying great attention to the delineation of the raga. The specialty was that the pallavi was composed by Sh TR Subramaniam for ‘Unnati’ to enable the artistes to present it within a week.

The artists were ably accompanied by MA Krishnaswamy on the violin, Neyveli Skandasubramanian on mridangam and Purushottaman on Kanjira. I could not help feeling that the concert level would have been enhanced with better violin support.

The concert by Malladi brothers the next day 18th August began with the Kanada varnam. ‘Merusamana’ in the raga mayamalavagoulai was rendered with aplomb. Muthuswami Dikshitar krithi ‘Kamakshi Kamakoti Peetavasini’ in the raga Simhendra Madhyamam was marvelous specially niraval and brisk swara singing for the line ‘nadabindukalaswaroopini’. Mysore Vasudevachar krithi ‘Mamavahrudaye vinaradayalo’ in Reethigoula was enjoyable but short perhaps to allocate more time for the main item in Kamboji. The raga alapana was grounded in tradition. The brothers sang the alapana in tandem; their voices complementing one another.

Deviating from the popular krithis, the artists took up a rare krithi ‘Koniyadina’. This krithi was sung as a tribute to Dr.Sripada Pinakapani, a living legend under whose tutelage the brothers learnt the art. The brothers showered encomiums on their guru narrating inter alia the visit of late maesteros Dr.MS Subbalakshmi and Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer to Kurnool to meet Pinakapani. The krithi stood out for niraval and swara singing for the verse “neelakanta srikalahasti’.

Mysore Nagaraj on the violin added sparkle to the concert. KV Prasad on the mridangam and Narayanamurthy on Ghatam provided excellent percussion support. Their ‘thaniavartanam’ saw the usual walk-outs but it was a musical conversation par excellence. Overall, it was a musical treat over the week end.