Pantula Rama presented a vocal concert with the choicest pieces on the third day of Sharada Cultural Trust music festival. Opening with the auspicious Sri ragam Nama kusumamula che pujinche, she aptly chose to render Angaraka mashraye… in Surati, a Dikshitar kriti invocating Mars (Tuesday). The nuances of the raga unfolded like petals of a flower in all their delicacy.
Being an ace musician, she kept an eye on the pulse of the audience and alternated the slow and fast-paced kritis, so that the audience did not drift with monotone rendition. We had two such rhythmic, toe-tapping kritis in Pratapavarali and Kadanakuthuhalam which were well received. Rama seemed to have adopted a more mellifluous way of rendition that embellished her in-depth singing style grounded in tradition. The akaar taan that laced the Pratapvarali (Vinanasakoni) was appealing. A classy alapana with stylistic phrasing marked the opening notes of Hameer Kalyani with a violin replay that mirrored the raga in all its nuances and style by MSN Murthy emerged into (Abi) maanamu leda…, a meaningful kriti of Thyagaraja, which got enriched with her neraval and exceptional swarakalpana with elongated syllabic utterances that lent a beauty to the entire song. The violinist did not fall short of reflecting this effect with his deft bowing. DSR Murthy on mridagam was, as usual, excellent while Somayajulu kept pace with the ghatam.
Nee kela daya raadu Ramachandra… another fast-track kriti — after Papanasam Sivan’s composition Naan oru vilayattu bommaya in Navarasa Kannada — was again a relief with its striking chittaswaram. The Tamil piece could have been more yearning in tone though she supplemented it with an entreating ‘amma’ and also gave a light technical flash with the Srotovaha yati towards the conclusion.
Rama chose Bhairavi to elaborate on the RTP which was baffling and with a brief tanam she launched in Shyama Sastri’s swarajati on Kaamakshi amba. The neraval at Shyamakrishna sahodari… was quite elaborate, with virtuosity gleaming at every turn of her manodharma. The musician and her accompanists made for a momentous evening at Keyes High School notwithstanding the downpour in the city.