Vocalist duo Anahita and Apoorva formatted their concert in a unique way with just one percussion accompaniment
The vocal recital by Anahita and Apoorva, featured as part of Baithak, a series of online musical evenings organised by HCL Concerts, turned out to be special because it had just one percussion accompaniment — kanjira — by Shree Sundarkumar. The sisters began their concert with the ‘Nera nammithi’ varnam. The Kanada Ata tala varnam was surprisngly followed by a short tani avartanam in Adi talam by Shree Sundarkumar.
Anahita and Apoorva rendered the kritis in perfect unison and with clear diction. They sang Tyagaraja’s ‘Teliyaleru Rama’ in Dhenuka, a rather sombre composition where the saint-poet laments about people’s indifference to the ‘bhakti margamulu’ (devotional path). The slow and serene tempo suited the mood of the kriti. ‘Nenarunchi nanu’ in Malavi (Tyagaraja) followed at a brisk pace. Anahita’s Purvikalyani alapana had ample bhava and piety. The choice here was the peerless ‘Meenakshi memudam’ of Muthuswami Dikshitar, which moved on the right rhythm, and the niraval at ‘Madhurapuri nilaye’ was significantly well-structured.
Bilahari’s rather brief sketch led to tanam shared by the duo. Here one saw a smart tanam-ragam exchange between the siblings. The pallavi set in Misra Chapu went as ‘Saravanabhava saranam malaradi saranam arulpuri’. The swara matrices focused on ‘panchamam’ as a landing note and concluded with interesting combinations. It was once again followed by a tani avartanam by Shree Sundarkumar, who provided effective rhythm support.
It is, indeed, unusual to have only the kanjira, a ‘upa pakkavadyam’, as accompaniment, but the concert proved that the modest instrument can independently elevate a performance.
The closing songs were ‘Kannan varugindra neram’, a Kavadi Chindu by Oothukadu Venkatakavi; and a lively thillana in Behag by vidwan N. Ravikiran.
During a post-concert chat, the sisters explained their unusual exercise, saying that online presentations offer the opportunity to try different things. “Though we don’t want to deviate from the basic content or structure of the time-tested concert style, we think there is room for such experiments,” said Anahita.
The Chennai-based author writes on music and heritage.