There is no secret recipe for good curation; Selecting artists and lining them up for a festival takes a fair amount of intuition. But that is what excites us the most. The Malladi brothers were always on our mind and the year 2018 set stage for the right opportunity. They are one of the most prominent duos of Carnatic vocal music, known for their consistent capacity to wow audiences since years.
What makes this concert even more exciting is the stellar combination of artists – with Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi (violin), Trichy Sankaran (mridangam) and Giridhar Udupa (ghatam) coming in, the concert takes off for a loftier ground. The taniavarthanam is the game-changer in this concert, performed with the ragam tanam pallavi. It is a succinct and power-laden percussion duet exemplifying the vast erudition of Sankaran, a veteran exponent and 76 years of age. Giridhar Udupa remains unobtrusive, following the master in consonance and with demands of the occasion.
Held at the Milton Court, Barbican Centre, this Director’s Cut concert awakens one’s imagination to beauty presented with sheer simplicity. The duo starts off the recital with a famous kriti (composition) by Saint Thyagaraja (1767 – 1847) in Raag Dhanyasi – ‘Sangeetha Gyanamu.’ The song follows after a wonderfully coordinated and brief alapana. Sankaran lands up with grandeur and sets off the pace for this beautiful composition.
Maintaining the energy from this piece, the duo launches ‘Kailasa Nathena’, another Sanskrit kriti in Raag Kambhoji by Saint Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1775 – 1835). This piece introduces Vijayalakshmi’s versatile and graceful violin. The diva performs a soulful alapana following the brothers’ introduction to Kambhoji and paves the way further for this kriti. The brothers take the lead weaving short, simple but exquisite patterns eventually involving the whole ensemble to replicate and improvise upon.
The central piece – the ragam tanam pallavi – is set to Raag Anandabhairavi. The siblings introduce the raga with intricate phraseology in all octaves, leaving Vijayalakshmi to spin the rest of the magic with her violin. A virtuosic tanam follows, building much of the body of this piece towards a beautiful pallavi - ‘Bhava Raga Tala Sangeetha Mey’. This part is followed by a spectacular percussion performance by Sankaran and Udupa. It is particularly amazing to see the stunning value addition that a master of mridangam like Sankaran can bring to a performance as this, raising the worth of the concert by several notches.
The next piece ‘Nama Vadami,’ a composition of Ganapathi Sachchidananda (born May 1942), is rendered with elegance. It is set to Raag Salaga Bhairavi and stands as a favourite of the Malladi brothers.
The grand finale of this concert is a befitting piece - a thillana composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman who’s daughter is accompanying them on stage on the violin and son, Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, who is part of the Darbar audience that evening. Vijayalakshmi and Krishnan are another phenomenal duo who were all set to perform the very next day as part of the 2018 festival line-up. The thillana is set to Raag Rageshwari and is rendered with dexterity and evocativeness through their deep voices.
The lively singing of the brothers is contrasted beautifully by Vijaylakshmi’s sensitive expositions on the violin. She needs a special mention for her ample repose and sweet melodic expressions.
Sankaran and Udupa bring in the grandeur to the concert with an impeccable flow of rhythm.
Our world may have gone digital, but we have loads for you to explore and listen to from the comfort of your own home with the feel of a live performance. We are delighted to bring these soulful concerts to you, particularly at a time when mankind is exploring the true meaning of happiness, mindfulness and purpose.
We hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.
Malladi Sreeramprasad (vocal)
Malladi Ravikumar (vocal)
Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi (violin)
Trichy Sankaran (mridangam)
Giridhar Udupa (ghatam)
Priya Sharma & Srutti Suresan (tanpuras)
1. Raag Dhanyasi, Composition by Saint Thyagaraja in Adi talam
2. Raag Kambhoji, Sanskrit composition by Muthuswamy Dikshitar
3. Ragam tanam pallavi in Raag Anandabhairavi
4. Raag Salaga Bhairavi, Composition by Ganapathi Sachchidananda
5, Raag Rageshwari, Thillana composed by Lalgudi Jayaraman
Recorded at the Darbar Festival on 26 Oct 2018, at London’s Barbican Centre