Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Ranjani and Gayatri’s concert was high on sowkhyam

Ranjani and Gayathri accompanied by Manoj Siva (mridangam), Chandrasekhara Sarma (ghatam) and  M. Rajeev (violin) performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.

Ranjani and Gayathri accompanied by Manoj Siva (mridangam), Chandrasekhara Sarma (ghatam) and M. Rajeev (violin) performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.
| Photo Credit: SRINATH M

In all artistic forms, it is harder to stay at the top than to reach there. Ranjani and Gayatri, by some distance, have been among the top for a decade now. And, they continue to strive to up their appeal and relentlessly carry on their classical exploration. Their concert for the Music Academy had some vibrant and scholarly elements. A subtle change that one noticed was the retrofitting of leisure and tempering of whirlwind singing — like mature fast bowlers, they have cut the pace and focussed on the skill and brought in variations in delivery. This made for much better listening.

‘Ekadantam bhaje ham’ (Bilahari, Dikshitar) was the first evidence of that slight kalapramana adjustment. It was enjoyable, with just a teaser quota of swaras. Pantuvarali raga got a good lift with many sensitive phrases from Ranjani, especially from the liberal use of Panchama varjam that gave a Hindustani feel.

The sisters’ repertoire is a vast range of interesting and polished compositions. A novelty in this concert was a Thiruarutpa of Ramalinga Adigalar, set to music by their guru, P. S. Narayanaswamy, in Adi, tisra nadai (perhaps thoughtfully done to reflect the opening word, ‘panniru’). The lyrics, ‘Panniru kan malar malarntha kadale’ are pregnant with poetic charm and meaning and the tala structure allowed for a patient rendition that enhanced the enjoyment, topped with the niraval at ‘Enniru kan maniye’. PSN’s laya-laced chittaswara added further elegance to the composition.

Ranjani and Gayathri performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.

Ranjani and Gayathri performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.
| Photo Credit:
SRINATH M

A bright ‘Kandu kandu’ in Kamboji (Purandaradasa) was sweetly rendered with soft handling of the sangathis. Even the hustler piece, ‘Vijayambike’ (Vijayanagari) of Muthiah Bhagavathar did not unnecessarily whip up frenzy. So, the recalibration of tempo was intentional.

A classic alapana of Bhairavi by both the vocalists and the violinist created a sombre mood in the middle of the concert. The gait of ‘Thanayuni brova’ (Tyagaraja) added to the aesthetic strips as the kriti blossomed with pleasing swaras at ‘vatsamu’.

The RTP in Nalinakanti packed in a beautifully rendered thanam, an artistic pallavi in Adi with tisram on the thattu (trimukhi) and a colossal multi-raga swara by Gayatri, anchoring on scale shifts. The rapid rendition is a challenge well accepted. As the raga flip-flops are quick, they do not give enough time or scope to display the characteristic phrases of the alternate ragas, though. This embellishment is now part of the sisters’ template.

Ranjani and Gayathri accompanied by Manoj Siva (mridangam), Chandrasekhara Sarma (ghatam) and  M. Rajeev (violin) performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.

Ranjani and Gayathri accompanied by Manoj Siva (mridangam), Chandrasekhara Sarma (ghatam) and M. Rajeev (violin) performing on December 25, 2023, at the Music Academy’s 97th annual conference and concerts 2023.
| Photo Credit:
SRINATH M

One more laudable feature in the concert is the respect and space given to co-artistes, who are not yet in the same ‘superstar’ category but are competent on their own. M.Rajeev is on an accelerator and his musical maturity was palpable in all raga alapana segments, especially in Nalinakanti. Manoj Siva played a complementary role, as he always does. The tani with Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam) was bright and skillful, without being overwhelming. A virutham in Mohanam was followed by the Papanasam Sivan kriti, ‘Nambikketavar evarayya’ in Hindolam. Despite the clock ticking over, an abhang could not stay unrendered in their concert!

Ranjani and Gayatri are not just setting and maintaining new standards, but seem to have stitched in a better balance to the tempo that captures the musical nuances more profoundly. That progression is welcome and perhaps the gauntlet is thrown down for other seniors to think about encompassing a conscious ‘sowkhyam’ constituent.

#Ranjani #Gayatris #concert #high #sowkhyam

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