Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi hold high the Lalgudi patanthara in their concert


Lalgudi GJR Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi performing at The Music Academy’s December music season, 2022.
| Photo Credit: SRINIVASAN KV

The Lalgudi brother-sister duo have continued to carry the torch, lit by their father, in an exemplary manner. They have not been swayed by the new idioms of concert performance or the urge to add colours that don’t blend well. Vijayalakshmi’s raga alapana of Kamboji stood out as the perfect specimen of the school’s code at their concert for The Music Academy.

The start was sedate with the Nalinakanti varnam (Lalgudi Jayaraman) and ‘Balakrishnam bhavayami’ (Gopika Vasantham, Dikshitar) that had some predictable swaras at the end. Vijayalakshmi adopted a rakti style to her alapana that had a bright and impactful culmination. The kriti ‘Mari mari ninne’ by Gharbapurivasar in Rupakam had a lively flavour to it, as the duo unwrapped the full scope of all sangathis, reflecting the grandeur of the composition and the raga. Niraval and kalpanaswaras at ‘alanaadu’ lifted the Kamboji mood further, and the concert never reached that peak again.

‘Karpagame kann parai’ (Madhyamavati, Papanasam Sivan) and ‘Lavanya rama’ (Poorna Shadjam, Tyagaraja) broke the general sequence of mainstream kritis, and then Krishnan played a scholarly Thodi alapana. The manodharma at times veered to some of the epic phrases of Rajarathnam Pillai as Krishnan endeavoured to deliver the maximum impact without playing out too much time. The kriti ‘Gathi neevani’ (Tyagaraja) is also built with a wide vista of the raga and the duo did justice to every sangathi that adorns the well-known patanthara. In doing so, they also ensured that haste did not creep in. Swaras at ‘Gathinee’ were engaging but were generally in charter chatusra nadai. This was perhaps an opportunity to play more intricate patterns. Two enormous and well-rendered predecessors, Kamboji and Thodi begged the question of what pallavi would follow.

Though very capably handled, ‘Kantamani’ may not have boosted the trajectory of the concert, perhaps due to its limited canvas. The melakartha qualification does not evoke the same effect as others that composers have explored a lot.

Krishnan and Vijayalakshmi, nevertheless, painstakingly delineated the contours well and capped it with thanam that offered educative insights into the raga curves. ‘Kantamani’ has a native tone that corresponds to ‘earnest appeal’ (for divine grace, one may assume) and dominated the strokes of the two violinists.

The pallavi, ‘Sri Ramanai thuthi maname kanden sithaiyai enra’ in Chatursra Jampai, Khanda nadai was the moment the duo leapt into rhythm mastery that the school is famous for. More manodharma flowed in the ragamalika swaras in Saveri, Mukhari, Bindumalini and Tilang, which had many hues and contrasts in an electrifying sweep.

A melodious rendition of a Swati Tirunal kriti on Rama in Sindhu Bhairavi closed the concert that assigned primacy to clinical precision over artistic experimentation.

This is the era of attention-seeking by artistes on and off stage. Trichy Sankaran is an exception, focussing on his task in a fuss-free manner and enhancing the overall effect with his expert accompaniment. Ghatam V. Suresh participated with interesting and involved play.

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