H K Venkatram, Ashwin Anand & Ravikiran – Odukathur Mutt – February 26, 2017

Very glad to have attended a beautiful Violin – Veena – Venu (VVV) concert by my Guru Sri H K Venkatram (HKV), Sri Ashwin Anand & Sri Ravikiran with the amazing Mridangam Maestro Guru Sri Karaikudi Mani and Sri Guruprasanna on Khanjira, as part of Kalotsav 2017 at Odukathur Mutt Sivaratri celebrations!

  1. Parvathi Pathim Pranaumi Satatam- Hamsadhwani
  2. Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam – Ananda Bhairavi
  3. Sobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini
  4. Siva Siva Siva Anarada – Pantuvarali
  5. Dattatreya Trimurti Rupa – Ranjani
  6. Swara Raga Sudha – Sankarabharanam
  7. Shiva Darushana Namagayithu – Madhyamavathi
  8. Thillana – Mohanakalyani
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Concert started with the krithi Parvathi Pathim, a composition of Muttuswamy Deekshitaar, in Hamsadhwani on a very auspicious note. This is a rare krithi and was a perfect pick to start with, for this being Sivaratri time. Kalpana swaras set the tone for the rest of the concert, which indeed turned out to be a memorable one!

Thyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam is one of the remarkable compositions of Muttuswamy Deekshitaar, which is set to chouka kala (Vilambit) Rupaka Talam. The Gopuchcham and Srotaavaham experimentations in Pallavi and Madhyamakala Sahityam are always a treat to listen to! Thanks to Dr. SrinivasaRaghavan who threw some light on these aspects of the composition. A very brief aalapana of Ananda Bhairavi by HKV Sir led to a wonderful rendition of this composition. A unison of three melody instruments Violin, Veena and Flute performing in a great synchrony was a delight – add to it Mani Sir’s Mridangam and Guruprasanna’s wonderful shadowing of him with his Khanjira!

Brisk Sobhillu Saptaswara, a great composition of Saint Thyagaraja was a filler before the sub-main composition. Ashwin presented a very nice and detailed exploration of Pantuvarali. Being Sivaratri season, the krithi Siva Siva Siva Anarada, a composition of Saint Thyagaraja was expected. Grand Niraval on Agamamula Nutiyinchi by all three on VVV explored multiple dimensions of the wonderful ragam. Kalpana swaras followed in multiple rhythmic patterns.

Ravikiran presented a nice Ranjani aalapana. The krithi that followed was Dattatreya Trimurthi Rupa, a composition by Sachchidananda Swamy ji.

Sankarabharanam. My tryst with this amazing ragam continues!! Like I mentioned in a couple of my previous posts, it is a ragam in which I learn new phrases each time I listen to it! As usual, a very soothing aalapana from HKV Sir exploring the majestic ragam to the core, made the audience spellbound! Saint Thyagaraja’s immortal composition Swara Raga Sudha followed as the grand main piece of the evening. An exquisite round of kalpana swaras followed by the most awaited Tani Avarthanam by the Maestro Mani Sir. What an energy!! What a delightful Avarthanam it was, ably complemented by Guruprasanna!! A Thunderous applause almost at the end of every cycle from audience said it all!

Mani Sir took the mic to speak a few words after the mandatory vote of thanks from the organizers. He talked about the Mridanga Saileswari Temple in Kannur, a few words about HKV Sir and his music. He recollected that the last VVV concert he played was for the legendary Maestros Lalgudi Jayaraman – N Ramani – Venkatraman trio, about 4 decades before.

A memorable concert ended with Purandara Dasa’s composition Shiva Darushana Namagayithu in Madhyamavathi, Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Thillana in MohanaKalyani, which is one of the all-time favorite compositions for most musicians and a traditional Mangalam in Sourashtram.

The concert got delayed by about 40 minutes or so, because the dance programme preceding it got extended quite a bit, else we would probably have heard a Ragam Tanam Pallavi. Nonetheless, this 2.5 hours concert will be remembered for long long time!!!

Akkarai Sisters – Odukathur Mutt – February 21, 2017

My first concert of the Sivaratri season is a Vocal concert by Akkarai Sisters at Odukathur Mutt. Always had pleasant memories there!

Akkarai Subhalakshmi and Sornalatha gave a wonderful vocal duet with Mathur Srinidhi on Violin, K U Jayachandra Rao on Mridangam and Arun Kumar on Morsing.

  1. Era Naapai – Todi (Varnam)
  2. Alavadennalo Shivame – Pharaz
  3. Ananda Tandavam – Vachaspati
  4. Ardhanaareswaram – Kumudakriya
  5. Brova Bharama – Bahudari
  6. Akshaya Linga Vibho – Sankarabharanam
  7. Eppo varuvaro – Jonpuri
  8. Ayye metha kadinam – Ragamalika
  9. Karpakame – Madhyamavathi
  10. Mangalam – Sourashtram

Akkarai Sisters demonstrated as much virtuosity in singing as they would normally on Violin! Todi Varnam in 4 speeds is a cracker of a start!!

Alavadennalo Shivame in a rare ragam Pharaz is a first timer for me. It’s one of the Sapta Ratnas of Uttukadu Venkatasubbayyar. Lovely exploration of Vachaspati by Sornalatha followed, with a nice return from Mathur on Violin. Ananda Tandavam is the composition to follow, and I really liked the composition. It is apparently a composition of their grandfather and the charanam has swara aksharams right from Madhya sthayi Gandharam till tara sthayi Panchamam. It was indeed amazing to see them reach higher Pa with ease! KUJ and Arun were soft, yet always in the frame, elevating the concert to a different level.

Kumudakriya expansion by Subhalakshmi is fabulous. Muttuswamy Deekshitaar’s Ardhanaareswaram was rendered with so much bhavam and devotion. Kalpana swaras showed their rhythmic excellence! A quick Brova Bharama in Bahudari followed, to leave the stage to the main composition.

Sankarabharanam, like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, is a ragam that I keep knowing something new about every time I listen to it from anyone! Subhalakshmi treated the ragam like a child, caressing it with so much of care and affection! Violin return by Mathur was nice too. Within the span of a month, I heard the composition of Deekshitaar, Akshaya Linga Vibho, twice (that too as main piece) and I am in love with the song and the wonderful sahityam. Charanam even as a text is also a treat to the ears without music. Beauty of Sanskrit and the masterpiece of a composition!! Niraval on Badari vanamuna naayika sahitha and kalpana swaras were weaved very well to make the composition grand. Fantabulous Tani Avarthanam by Jayachandra Rao and Arun Kumar kept everyone on the edge of their seats, in excitement.

The concert ended with a few Tamil compositions which made everyone happy in the hall. Overall, a very nice concert. I had initially planned to stay for sometime and leave to finish other work, but I was glued to the seat and ended up sitting through full concert. First vocal duet concert by the Akkarai Sisters was indeed charming as they always are!!

Bombay Jayashri – Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira – February 5, 2017

An eventful weekend came to an end by attending a soulful concert by Smt. Bombay Jayashri, with Sri H N Bhaskar on Violin, Sri V V Ramanamurthy on Mridangam, Sri B S Purushottam on Khanjira and Master Amrit Ramnath on Tambura.

  1. Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam – Sree
  2. Makelara Vicharamu – RaviChandrika
  3. Narayana Ninna Namada – Suddha Dhanyasi
  4. Mokshamu Galada – Saramati
  5. Bhuvaneshwariya – MohanaKalyani
  6. Ragam Tanam Pallavi – Bhairavi
  7. Ondu baari smarane saalade – Sindhu Bhairavi (?)
  8. Thillana – Madhuvanthi
  9. Mangalam – Sourashtram

The concert started with a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi, Saraswathi Namastubhyam… before moving on to Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam in Sree! So soulful was the rendition, that would have made Muttuswamy Deekshitaar proud! A brisk Makelara Vicharamu in RaviChandrika followed, which ended with wonderful exchange of Kalpana Swaras between Jayashri and Bhaskar.

Suddha Dhanyasi was taken up for elaboration to everyone’s delight. Amazing aalapana by Jayashri, complemented equally well by Bhaskar, was a treat for the ears! Narayana Nimma Namada is a composition that I heard for first time. Purandara Daasa’s composition was rendered with so much of devotion. The Niraval segment would have taken many audience into a different world of pure tranquility. Soulfulness in rendition is the hallmark of the entire concert, which is a rarity these days. The composition ended with a brilliant round of kalpana swaras.

Starting from the Anupallavi Sakshatkara ni… the immortal composition of Saint Thyagaraja, Mokshamu Galada was rendered at a leisurely pace, allowing the audience to settle in the divine environment already created through the wonderful music by then. Ramanamurthy and Purushottam were soft, fabulous and did a great deal of job in elevating the concert to greater heights!

MohanaKalyani is a very beautiful ragam and a detailed aalapana by Jayashri showed multiple new phrases of it. Bhaskar’s return was lovely both in aalapana and swaras, while following her eloquently in Muttaiah Bhagavathar’s composition Bhuvaneshwariya...

Bhairavi was the main ragam for the evening. It’s been very long since I heard chaste elaboration of it and I was completely drenched in its beauty with the ragam and tanam from Jayashri and Bhaskar. His returns in Tanam especially drew a great appreciation from the audience. Tanam was also probably rendered in a couple of other ragams (?) too, which I could not notice, but Kaanada was definitely one of them. Beautiful Pallavi on Goddess Durga, Parameswari Jagadeeswari Bhairavi Sree Tripura Sundari was set to Khanda Jathi Triputa Talam. Kalpana swaras included Charukesi, Rakeshri (?), Behag and I may have possibly missed one or two more ragas. Tani Avarthanam was fabulous by Ramanamurthy and Purushottam and it turned the RTP into a complete package with great team work!

A great concert ended with a Thillana by Lalgudi Jayaraman Sir in Madhuvanthi and traditional Mangalam.