If a varnam journeys across notes to also warm up one’s throat, then Aditya Madhavan made a good choice by starting his concert for Mudhra with ‘Neranammiti’. His pliant voice only requires a couple of minutes singing to get concert-ready. Yet the choice of a less-flashy raga spoke of self-belief. Not only did he manoeuvre well through the Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar composition in leisurely Kanada; Aditya even lent it extra sparkle at places — an instance being the end bit of the first chittaswaram. Those frills come from his teacher Sanjay Subrahmanyan. The speedier stretches, though, could have been neater.
Dharmavati came in second, enabling the kutcheri to take off with ‘Bhajanaseya rada’. Just as things got a bit noisy, Aditya coasted on to a niraval. The contemplative notes along ‘Niravadhi sukhadayakuni’ found excellent response from the violinist. In his first chance to go alone, Chidambaram Badrinath made evident his mastery over the string instrument. The celebratory spirit sustained, thanks to Punnur Arvind Kaushik (mridangam) and Kottayam Rohith Prasad (ghatam).
Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Sivakama sundari’ followed, after a crisp alapana that emphasised the grace typical of the slides of Mukhari. Tentativeness defined the sangatis around ‘Bhava rogam’ at the start of the anupallavi. Contrastingly, the vocalist was surer of his skills while handling the next item in Kanada. In a split-second, the raga was obvious — a hallmark of the Semmangudi school to which Aditya belongs, after all. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Shri matrubhutam’ eventually gave way to the swaraprasatara. At one passage, Badrinath’s bowing was intentionally Western, bringing to the fore Kanada’s parental roots in Sankarabharanam — a universal tune. ‘Smarana onde salade’ appeared as a cameo, functioning as a filler in the refreshing Malayamarutam, ahead of the centrepiece.
That was in Kiravani. The alapana twined relatively slow kambita oscillations with sudden drops, as Aditya marched towards a finer swaroopam of the raga. Soon a flurry of brigas embellished the higher reaches, where the main accompanist maintained restraint. Even in his solo response, Badrinath seldom went overboard. The violinist did come up with his share of flashiness, but all of it under control. Certain phrases in the vocalist’s alapana did give hints at the kriti: ‘Kaligiyunte’.
Its façade was a bit bland, but the anupallavi ushered in vibrancy. Into the charanam, the percussionist pair made the affair even livelier. The niraval (around ‘Bahuga sreeraghu’) went for meaty bits; only rarely sounding reposeful. The swaras, in the middle portion, rolled out with focus on the bhava of the raga, which is fundamentally romantic.
As the vocal-violin question-answers gained frequency, the dais readied for the tani avartanam. The two-kalai Adi laid the roadmap for a decent session. The young pair exhibited deftness in skills; only that the ghatam briefly lost in the final laps where the rhythmic cycle for each gets shorter. The main suite spanned a full hour.
The breezy Maund raga fitted well into the lightness of the post-tani mood. ‘Arumo aval’ by Kannan Iyengar in Tamil, again in the eight-beat adi, was the choice. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Sisa ganga bhasma ganga’ in Dhanashri followed. Less-heard, yes, but associated well with the vast repertoire of Aditya’s guru Sanjay. Another Swati ditty, ‘Bhujagasayino’ (Yadukula Kamboji), marked the mangalam of the two-hour-15-minute concert.