BANGALORE: To me, a duet performance should technically consist of the singers singing together, not just exchanging verses. Their deliveries should work rather well together. Their chemistry must be very good and this enhances the quality of the performance. Singing duets by singers of equal levels and experience can be very rewarding and a great way to share the experience with the avid listeners. Carnatic repertoire has the most interesting choices for singers from a wide variety for various voice combinations too. These elements were artistically capitalized by the famed two duos during the 46th music conference of Bangalore Gayana Samaja held from 12 to October 19. The two duets—first one by Ranjani and Gayathri (Oct 12) and the other one by Malladi Brothers (Oct 15) — provided wonderful artistry, classic vocals and great duets. One could fathom the idea of an aesthetic and artistic connection to maathu and dhaatu (lyrics and music). The vocals were gorgeous, sumptuous and for falling in love with. Backed up by lovely voices and great lyrics the vocalists created a mosaic of images of melodies that was both very creative and tastefully done. Soft voice and gradual movements were good for the voices.
The 46th Gayana Samaja music conference was dedicated to the memory of the legendary Vaggeyakara Mysore Vasudevacharya and Karnataka’s seven stringed violinist R.R.Keshavamurthy to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of the former and the birth centenary of the latter. Hence the rasikas had the rare opportunity of listening to some of the gem krithis of Mysore Vasudevacharya.
Excellently and inspiringly supported by B K Raghu (violin), H S Sudheendra (mridanga) and G S Ramanujam (ghata), Ranjani and Gayathri launched the music programmes of the music conference with a varna Saami ninne nammi in Kamavardhini raga in a lively mood and pace. Vasudevachar’s Girijaramana was prefaced with an overture of raga Gambheera Nata. The krithi was crowned with swift swaras. The sisters were applauded for the elaboration of Saranga raga and impressed the audience by singing Purandaradasa’s Ee paritya sobagu inyava devali. The raga bhava was further extended in the swaraprastara.
Following female voice is a bit stronger than male to form good contrast for the song. Lyrics were clearly presented by both vocalists with great harmony. They had no problem to express the emotion of the songs properly. Interim instrumental plays by young violinist B K Raghu were good to fill the space between vocal and music. Also various ornamentations were lightly applied to the song to provide great feeling of the song. Edayya gathi in Chalanata was fine gap filler. The elaboration of Mukhari raga for Thyagaraja’s Ksheenamai thiruga was the first highlight of the duet. Their mellifluous voices were in fine form and vocally, artistically and technically compatible which could easily fit their musical sensibilities. The detailed treatment started energetically with a long drawn alapana and soared with their intertwining voices. The rendition of the krithi, neraval at Emijesina and followed by a well designed and delivered swaravinyasa amazed the listeners. It was wonderful to experience at how well they sounded together. Dikshitar’s Brihadambikayai namasthe (Vasantha) was crisply sung. This concert served as a great testament to their talent, legacy, staying power, and versatility -- good listening.
The other highlight of the duet a raga, tana and pallavi in Desh set to trishra two kalai ata tala. The sisters were greeted for singing a Kannada pallavi Bhava raga tala sangeetha nadave namma Deshada hirime in which the name of the raga was also cleverly inserted. It was explored with kaala and gati variations and annexed with a ragamalika swaraprastara comprising of Desh, Kannada and a rare Deepali raga. Violinist Raghu contributed a scintillating Amrithavarshini. Another Devaranama and abhanga were soulful.
Another duet by Malladi Brothers on fourth day of the conference (Wednesday) was a lovely. The two artistes sang really well together. It was with awesome lyrics. Both artistes were awesome. The way they performed was an indication that the pair would do greater things on the current Carnatic music charts. The duet told two sides of the story. It was indeed a wonderful duet and song. They had very mellow and relaxing voices. The two voices harmonized very well throughout the concert. The lyrics were very understandable and powerful even when they sang together. They made the understanding much easier by announcing the names of the ragas, krithis and composers. The harmonies were beautifully done and the impact kept the listeners invested enough in the songs to keep on until the end.
A singer who gets across what the composer has in mind and probably a little more is a true master of song. Malladi Brothers proved it. Their voice is magic, ability to convey a song is brilliant and their artistry did not fade one bit. The types of songs they chose to sing fitted them best. Accentuating the climaxes in swaraprastaras, their style was marked by subtle lyricism and perfect matching of colour and phrasing. They could explore the most intimate corners of the scores.
Here was a performance of quite exceptional finesse and soft-grained in its opening notes. It was also invariably responsive to those sudden explosions of temper that became a feature of their kalpanaswara-masterpieces.
They began with a demanding Reetigowla varna. Annamacharya’s Vandeham Jagadvallabham in Hamsadhwani gave powerful wings to the duet to take the listeners on a flight of melody and laya. The swaras were captivating. A rarely heard Thyagaraja krithi in Vasantha Etla dorikitivo with a short alapana warmed up the ears. A short neraval at Paada mahimo..facilitated a scholarly swaravinyasa. The 10th melakartha raga Natakapriya was given a detailed airing. The intricate nuances of the raga were highlighted in a simple manner. Idi Samayamu brovarada was sung in a telling manner. The Brothers reached the acme of their expertise in unfolding Mayamalavagowla (Tulasamma) and Begade.
A veteran exponent of Gamaka or Kavya Vaachana and an erudite scholar, composer and writer M R Sathyanarayana captivated the lovers of literature and music with his singing a few verses drawn from Kannada’s Kumaravyasa Bharatha. A concise Kumaravyasa Bharatha Sangraha by veteran litterateur Prof A R Mithra was released at the Indian Institute of World Culture last Saturday. Gifted with a melodious voice, good diction and fine articulations Sathyanarayana began traditionally with Sri Vanitheyarasane in Nata raga. Then he invoked the blessings of various Gods and Goddesses by singing verses in Shankarabharana, Hamsadhwani, Kharaharapriya and other ragas.
Prefacing his singing with a simple and succinct narrations and explanations MRS enthralled the packed audience by singing those which carried messages which were topically relevant in ragas like Khamach, Athana, Kaanada and others increasing recitation’s emotional impact. Thus he was able to create multiple streams of emotions when listening his melodious singing. He could augment the emotions of those verses through lyrical mastery, undiluted passion and a healthy dose of technical spirit.
Dr M SURYA PRASAD