The second day proved to be Embar Kannan Day. The morning brought the artists together with the Thyagaraja Aradhanai when all international and the local artists came together with more people on the stage than off. This was followed by several local singers commanding their stake on the stage for an hour or two. The concerts began with Manimaran who sang accompanied by Embar Kannan and Mannargudi Eashwaran to the theme of ‘Thillai’. His main ragam Keeravani in ‘Innamum Sandheha Padalamo’ a composition of Gopalakrishna Bharathi was well received.
Violin Duo Kanyakumari and Embar Kannan again was beautiful. The Guru and Shishya were accompanied by three percussion instruments Thavil by TG Muthukumarasamy, Mrid K Murugaboopathi and Ghatam SV Ramani. Whilst the soulful strings of the violin enthralled audiences with a traditional number popularised by MSS, ‘Mamava Pattabhirama’ in ragam Manirahngu set to Mishra Chapu and Suryakantam where swara elaborations took place, the thavil was a sharp reminder of its presence. Ragams such as Nasika Bhushini and Sama in the song “Annapoorne Visalakshi” were pleasant reminders of the artists ability to indeed produce music so sweet. The natabhairavi ragam in ‘Sri Valli Deva Senapathe’ was explored in depth and the ragam alapana was pleasant. The ghatam’s cute sound was heard occasionally. Some where along the way, I lost concentration. The clown had raised its head. Both the violins went on a vicious rampage of the field of swaras, the percussions tumbling like boulders down the highway and I felt I was standing right in the middle of it. When all the three percussive instruments launched their thani, I must admit I had enough of it all. The rasikas, a hall full of them, were surprisingly uneffected by what I was experiencing. They sat through and watched in fascination at the excellence of all the artists as they played Jhujawanti and a Kavadi Chindhe and one song that sounds divine in Sudha Raghunathan’s voice “Om Namo Narayana” in Ragam Karnaranjani. Definitely a Show !!
The next concert proved Embar Kannan to be the crowning glory of the festival and his versatility and musicianship. Having listened to him accompany Bombay Jayashri a few months ago in Sydney at a Pallavi concert, then yesterday with OS Thyagarajan and today with his guru Kanyakumari and now with Malladi Brothers, had I had enough of him. Or had he been over exposed ? What was evident was his amazing quality of being able to nurture the artist he is accompanying not only with care but also to transform his style of playing to suit the bani and the imaginative flights of the artist he is accompanying. Pleasant and calm, he gained my utmost respect as the show stopper of the day.
Malladi Brothers, Ravi Kumar and Sreeram Prasad, resounding voices were magnetic. They were accompanied by Mannargudi Eashwaran on Mridangam and S V Ramani on Ghatam. They sang several rare ragams like Nagaswaravali in Thyagaiyer’s composition SreePathe and a nice Janaranjani in ‘Pahimam Sri Raja Rajeshwari’. The Dikshidar’s composition in Ragam Ramapriya was a wonderful surprise in the kriti ‘Mathangi Sri Rajarajeshwari’ in roopaka thalam. This was followed by their main ragam Kambhoji. After a rather serious Kambhoji their “Muddhugare Yashoda” which they sang later got a resounding applause. Malladi Brothers style while a balanced gamakam plus brigha style won the hearts of the rasikas for their resounding voices which reached the higher notes with abject ease without being too harsh to the ear. Hats off to the youngsters and the young volunteers who stood at the door and at the back of the stage and were seen to be scattered around. Where their numbers increasing each year of the festival ? I hope. Nithyashree Mahadevan sang with RK Shriram Kumar and Murugaboopathi on Mrdg and SV Ramani on Ghatam. Her main ragam was Saveri and an Ragam Thanam Pallavi in Shanmughapriya set to a thalam of 9 beats per cycle followed by several popular numbers which were enjoyed by many. More Photos here