Vishnudev Namboodri announced himself as a musician to watch out for at his concert for Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha on Friday.

Endowed with a voice that is both pleasant and powerful, he displayed a sophisticated aesthetic sense.

He started his concert with the Bhairavi Ata tala varnam, Viriboni, and followed it up with ‘Palimpa’ in Arabhi, a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer. His alapana of Vasantabhairavi showcased his creativity and all round vocal excellence.

There was an abundance of imaginative ideas in every section of the raga’s scale and he displayed an excellent sense of proportion in offering beautiful vilamba kala elaborations alongside energetic dhurita kala sections. The Tyagaraja kritiNee daya rada’ was rendered at a more leisurely pace than usual. This allowed the vocalist to render each line and sangati with a great deal of finesse.

Vishnudev’s rendition of Shyama Shastri’s ‘Brovavamma bangaru bomma’ in Neelambari was easily the standout piece of the day.

It takes significant skill and musical maturity to render a vilamba kala kriti with control over laya, breath and melody and without giving the listener a sense that time was being artificially stretched. This is something that separates the men from the boys.

It was especially heartening to see the audience enthusiastically appreciate this presentation.

Kharaharapriya was taken up for detailed elaboration. The pace was relaxed, ideas flowed richly and Vishnudev’s creativity, vocal dexterity and understanding of the raga came to the fore. Tyagaraja’s ‘Rama neeyada’ was rendered beautifully and was followed by neraval and kalpanaswara-s. His concluding vilamba-kala kalpanaswara for this piece was outstanding for the way he brought out Kharaharapriya in all its glory.

Probably because of this high point, the melkala swara-s and — especially — the kuraippu and korvai seemed unnecessary.

The violinist R. Satishkumar played with great understanding but his solo pieces did not quite impress.

Erode Nagaraj exhibited an excellent understanding of music in the way he played for the kriti-s. He contributed significantly to uplifting the vocalist’s renditions. His tani in the main piece was short but impressive.

Vishnudev paints a beautiful picture with his voice, raga bhava and sense of aesthetics. He should structure his concerts to play unabashedly to these strengths and not be bound by convention.

(Viswanath Parasuram is a musician, educator and founder of Karadi Tales. He can be reached at vish1962@gmail.com.)