Raji Gopalakrishnan cast a spell with her effortless rendition.
Like the dancer’s impressive stage presence, if the vocalist has a melodious voice, half the battle is won. A pliable voice that traverses from the lower octave to the higher effortlessly is an asset. Raji Gopalakrishnan has a mellifluous voice that captivates listeners at once. Her concert, which began with the brisk Abhogi varnam ‘Evaribhodha’ and ended with the sloka on Ambal, was melodious throughout.
The obeisance piece on Vinayaka, ‘Ekadantam Bhajaeham,’ a Muthuswami Dikshitar kriti in Bilahari, had a short swarakalpana that was enough to electrify the atmosphere. The Kannadagowla song of Tyagaraja, ‘Sogasujudatharama,’ was a bright rendition with clear sahitya bhava.
Raji’s rendition of raga Lathangi was brilliant and her vocalisation of the majestic character of the raga had a charm of its own.
This was followed by another sahitya of Tyagaraja, ‘Kantajudumi,’ where Raji displayed her skill in niraval for the anupallavi line, ‘Alanadu Soumitri Padaseva,’ with swara sallies limited to the minimum.
The sole Tamil keerthanai, ‘Sevikkavendum Chidambaram,’ of Muthuthandavar in Andholika, was perhaps meant to fill the gap in the Tamizhisai segment. Nevertheless, it was soulful.
The Dhanyasi alapana was magnificent in its presentation and again, Raji’s alluring voice cast a kind of magic spell. After the violinist Nalina Mohan rendered her version competently, she took up the Syama Sastri kriti, ‘Meenalochana.’ Despite an elaborate raga rendition, Raji Gopalakrishnan’s niraval for ‘Samaja Ganana Neevu’ did not lack brilliant flashes and the kalpanaswarams were crisp.
The experienced Thanjavur Ramadas (mridangam), Nanganallur Swaminathan (ghatam) and R. Raman (morsing) collaborated to execute an engaging session of thani avarthanam. Even while accompanying for the kritis, they had perfect understanding and the excellent acoustics contributed to the success of the tonal quality of the instruments.
Before launching into RTP, Raji rendered a short piece, a catchy Srutiranjani sahityam of Tyagaraja, ‘Edhari Sancharinthura.’ For her ragam-tanam-pallavi, the vocalist took up Kanada and the alapana was melodious and the lilting phrases were germane to the raga. She did not seem to exert much and the joyous rendition was at a leisurely pace, providing ‘vishranti’ to the listeners.
When she began tanam, Ramadas was tempted to accompany her with soft mridangam beats, to which the ghatam and morsing artists too joined hands. It turned out to be a rhythmic journey and added zest to the tanam prayogas.
The pallavi, ‘Kuzhualoodum Kanna, Kaatharul Madhura Venu Gana’ (in Khanda Thriputa Talam), was a beautifully structured and uncomplicated one. While singing swaras, she made it a ragamalika and changed tack from Kanada to Nattakurinji to Charukesi and back.
The Swati Tirunal song in Hindi, ‘Aye Giridhar Dwarae,’ was really an enchanting piece and she followed it up with the well known GNB sahityam, ‘Samaganapriyae.’
As is customary, ‘Thoomani Madathu’ of Tiruppavai was rendered before the closing item, a sloka on Ambal, ‘Matha Maragathasyama’ in ragamalika (Sama, Kalyani and Anandabhairavi). The vocalist’s diction was perfect, whether it was Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil or Hindi.