Saketharaman is a confident vocalist. He had planned his concert with clarity and presented compositions in an engaging manner. He began with ‘Sami ninne,’ the Sriraga varnam, though one expected a varnam from his guru Lalgudi Jayaraman’s treasure. He next chose a rare piece in Bilahari ‘Ini namakkoru kavalai’ by Koteeswara Iyer. These over, he was set for raga delineation and opted for Charukesi. Though Saketharaman touched the quintessential phrases of the raga, he couldn’t convey its serenity. Tyagaraja’s ‘Adamodi galade’ and the swara strands with a few rapid sangatis didn’t stand out either. Violinist Varadharajan shined through the swara segment with his mature approach.
Saketharaman, however, turned the Anandabhairavi exposition into an enjoyable affair with his well-carved-out phrases. ‘Ramanama payasake’ of Purandaradasa was an apt choice; it suited the raga and the mood.
Kalyani occupied the centre stage that evening. Saketharaman used his vocal power and imagination to embellish it, even trying a sruti bedam towards the end.
Kalyani’s majesty was addressed in all possible ways in his expansion. He went for Dikshitar’s ‘Kamalambam bhajare’ which crowned the alapana beautifully. Saketharaman’s exhaustive niraval on the pallavi were appended with several swara strands.
S. Varadharajan kept a low profile in many parts, countering the vocalist’s exuberant swara segments with his own.
Srimushnam V. Raja Rao (mridangam) and S.V. Ramani (ghatam) showed great restraint with subtle strokes. Their sharp exchanges, during the thani, are worth a mention.
The sloka of Adi Sankara on the 18 Shakti Peetams, in ragamalika, the finale piece, culminated in Sivan’s ‘Karpagame kan paraai’ in Madhymavati.