Diligence, intelligence, and the constant quest to excel in the field of their choice have elevated Akkarai Sisters — Subhalakshmi and Sornalatha — from accompanying violinists to vocalists as well as a violin duo of merit. They presented a violin duet on the inaugural day of The Music Academy’s 96th Annual Conference and Concerts.
An exhaustive and inspiring ragam tanam pallavi in Kapi was the concert’s tour-de-force. The raga’s multiple shades offered ample scope for Subhalakshmi to explore it in every possible way. This was followed by a forceful tanam, and the pallavi, set in Khanda Jathi Ata tala Tisra nadai, went as ‘Nayaka vinayaka gana nayaka’. Not just the raga, the tanam as well as the trikalam were dealt with in an elaborate manner. This segued to a long chain of swara exchanges between the siblings in ragamalika such as Ranjani and Bindu Malini. The tani avartanam, set in this briefly extended and complex rhythm, was well conceived and presented by N.C. Bharadwaj on the mridangam and S. Karthick on the ghatam.
The concert had several high points where the sisters competed with each other in raga essays and swara sequences. Sornalatha’s Varali exposition brought out the soulful tenor of the raga. However, the kriti that followed — Papanasam Sivan’s ‘Ka vaa vaa’ — was rendered at a lightning speed. The extended swara sallies between the sisters were played at a brisk pace with changes in nadais.
Earlier, ‘Jaya jaya’ in Nattai by Purandaradasa, with a swara section on pallavi, was balanced with a slow and soft rendition of Syama Sastri’s Bhairavi swarajathi ‘Amba Kamakshi’. The zesty ‘Na jeevadhara’ in Bilahari with its breathtaking chittaswaram came as a filler in between. They concluded with Lalgudi Jayaraman’s Sindhu Bhairavi thillana.
The concert cleverly alternated between fast and slow numbers to maintain the tempo, and the percussion artistes lent their support in full measure.
Subhalakshmi announced the details of each piece presented, which heightened the joy of listening.
Instruments offer scope for both fast and slow tempo playing, but it is always wise to keep a tight leash on overspeeding, which the sisters managed to, with finesse.