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T.V. Sankaranarayanan in great form
Padmabushan and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri T.V.Sankaranarayanan (TVS) was in great form singing for the Thyagaraja-Purandaradasa Aaradhana festival of the Girinagara Sangeetha Sabha in Bangalore on Sunday evening (February 24, 2008). It was a small crowd as crowds go for a TVS concert but that didn't deter the artiste and his son Sankaran Mahadevan (who gave vocal support) from providing a veritable feast of memorable music that will be cherished for long by listeners.

TVS began with the crisp Thyagaraja composition "Sri Raghukula" in Hamsadwani and sang it with the usual verve. As is his wont, he carved out delectable swara patterns, enriching the scope and content of theme for the listener. Son Sankaran Mahadevan came into his own, lending vocal support especially in the next kriti of Thyagaraja "Rama Bakthi Samrajya" in raga Suddha Bangala. Perhaps for the first time in many years, such elaborate, lilting kalpana swara patterns were effortlessly created for this song in tandem by the father and son duo. What made the rendering truly enjoyable was the alert and pleasing violin support by Bangalore-based young violinist B.K.Raghu. He showed his gifted-talent in abundant measure throughout the concert.

TVS sang raga Vasantha and Thyagaraja kriti "Seethamma" with usual gusto but somehow this and the Atana piece of Purandaradasa "Sagala graha palamu neeney" that followed didn't register much.

Then came the surprise packet of the evening. It was simply a superb exposition of raga Kalyani by son Sankaran Mahadevan, who displayed both a great grasp of the heart-tugging feel for the beauty of the raga and also a rich sweeping imagination backed by a voice which, with its natural 'ravais", could traverse the octaves with ease. At the end, it was simply amazing that a youngster could sing with so much of confidence. Come to think of it, this he must be getting it from his illustrious father TVS, no doubt! The Purandaradasa composition "Nambi kettavar ellavo Rangaiyanaa" in misra chapu tala was engrossingly captivating, sung as it was with a lot of grace and charm, especially in the neraval phase in "pankaja lochana", and the awesome flow of kalpana swaras that left one amazed.

This was followed by a casual and none-too-impressive Jayamanohari piece of Thyagaraja "Nee Bakthi baagya sudha". But TVS hit the high spots as it were next when he sang a brilliantly evocative Kambodhi raga stamped every inch in style and reminiscent of his guru Sri Madurai Mani Iyer. It seemed he was fully immersed in the devotional grandeur of the raga and this was confirmed when he took the Thyagaraja kriti "Maa Janaki", an all-time favourite of his guru. As TVS and his son unfurled sangathis and swaras, the melodic violin of Raghu providing added lustre, the listeners were transported to higher planes of musical fulfillment.

Young Sankaran Mahadevan then etched out a Kapi raga that was brilliant in design and texture, especially in the upper reaches of the octave. The brigha-filled sweeps were simply breath-taking at times and yet adorably sweet. Thayarajas's memorable "Inta Sowkya" was sung by father and son superbly, especially noteworthy were the swaras which gushed forth abundantly like the myriad-coloured spout from a water-fountain in full flow.

The Thani avardhanam by Vidwan V. Krishna on the mridangam and Omkara on the ghatam was rousing and their robust playing was well appreciated by the audience. All in all, TVS and son Sankaran Mahadevan provided true enjoyment with their lively and imaginative approach to classical music. Long live this genre, who is truly committed to the art form and who invariably leave an unforgettable mark on the listener.