So when did Nagaswaram and Raga Gambiranattai form a bond? The answer is not known but the bond has sustained to this day. And that bond was vividly brought out by the alapana that Ochira Sivadas and his wife, Prasanna Sivadas started their concert with. The kriti was the famous Sri Jalanthara by Jayasamraja Udayar. The concert was among the nine organized by Parivadini featuring nine nagaswaram playing couples during Navaratri. The festival is called “Navaratri Nava Shakti 2021”.
Ochira is where the couple hail from in Kerala. The couple was accompanied on special thavil by P Krishnakumar and P Srikumar who offered a laya treat.
The swaras that the artistes played taking turns were of much interest. Then the couple played two fast-paced kritis: Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar’s Sarasamukhi (Gowdamallaru) and Thyagaraja’s Janaki Ramana (Suddha Seemandhini). The swaras played in the second kritis synced with the pace of the kritis and brought out the couple’s deep involvement in the music. The raga alapana of Syama in the Muthuswamy Dikshitar kriti, Annapurne Visalakshi aptly brought out the peace-giving nature of the raga.
One could go on and review all the elements of the concert. But what can be said overall is that the two have practiced together a lot. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been possibly to play duet the way this couple did. Of the two, Sivadas seemed more experienced and was taking the concert forward. This is not to take anything away from Prasanna. Soon she would be a frontranking musician.
During interludes, raga alapana and when the Nagaswaram artistes wanted some rest, the thavil vidwans supported the couple well playing the right beats.