By Varalakshmi Anandkumar
Jugalbandis have become a common feature in today's concert scenario where variety is indeed the spice of life. But this was a concert with a difference. The concert featured an interesting jugalbandi of violin and nagaswaram. The rasikas at the Arkay Convention Centre, Mylapore, Chennai, were treated to a unique coming together of two versatile artists Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi, representing the Lalgudi bani and young Mylai Karthikeyan, an up-and-coming nagaswaram artist.
The percussion wing too featured a delightful blend of a budding artist—Sarangan Ravichandhira from Australia on the mridangam, along with seasoned khanjira artist Aniruddh Athreya.
To those who imagined that the nagaswaram would drown the dulcet tones of the violin, this concert proved them wrong. Combined with the well-equipped acoustics of the hall, the violin and nagaswaram combo seemed made for each other, blending perfectly to give an amalgamation of melody, to the rich tones of the percussion.
The concert began with the Viriboni varnam and was followed by obeisance to Lord Ganesa with Sri Ganapatini in Saurashtram. Arunachalanatham in Saranga was rendered line by line exquisitely between the violin and nagaswaram. Hindolam is a raga which never fails to please and in the hands of the two artists, it was sheer delight. Viji went into the root of the raga, to extract its full bhava. Young Karthikeyan was equally skilful with his briga, sangatis and his long, sruti-perfect karvai; he never failed to create an impact on the delighted audience. Following the alapana was the evergreen Samagana lolane of Papanasam Sivan.
Blending with raga, the bhava of the rendition by the duo suffused the air with bhakti, not to mention the response of the percussionists who knew exactly what to play at each sangati. The swara sequences and 'poruttams' were a sheer delight and it was a moment of regret when the song ended! Yet, there was much more in store. The poignant Ganamoortey was followed by the main piece.
Lalgudi Viji's long bowing strokes contrasting with the fast phrases found an echo in Karthikeyan who was evidently inspired by her expertise and quiet guidance. The effect created in Kharaharapriya and the kriti Pakkala nilabadi only served to accentuate the listening pleasure.
Artists from abroad coming to perform in India has become a common occurrence, but the effort of young Sai-Sarangan Ravichandhira was notable. It was evident that the youngster had put in hours of toil to play on a kappi mridangam effectively for concerts of this calibre. Sarangan's korvais shone bright and announced his bani with clarity and appropriate modulations.
Aniruddh Athreya is always brilliant and went into his element during the Tisra nadai kuraippu segment where the exchange of phrases between Saranagan and Anirudh was a treat. The combined effort by these two supporting artists was a significant contributory factor to the success of the concert.
Coincidentally, the concert was held on guru Surajananda's samadhi day and Lalgudi Viji paid tribute to the composer by playing the piece Muruganin marupeyar tuned by T.M. Thiagarajan in Behag. Three other compositions—Tamarai poota tadagamadi, Chinnanchiru kiliye and a tillana in Sivaranjani—were rendered skillfully and all four musicians complemented one another.
The concert was attended by many vidwans including, guru Kaaraikkudi Mani, G.J.R. Krishnan, Bhushany Kalyanaraman and Sarangan's father Ravi Ravichandhira. All in all, the three-hour concert was a Sunday treat for the rasikas and one hopes that there will be many such combinations that bring in novelty without compromising on tradition.