Ambujam Krishna was a multi-lingual composer. The bhakti element stood out in her compositions. Many stalwarts including Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer, K.R. Kedaranathan, T.N. Seshagopalan, Ananthalakshmi Sadagopan and Charumathi Ramachandran have set her compositions to music which feature fairly regularly in cutcheris these days. Dr. S. Ramanathan was yet another stalwart who can be credited with having tuned a sizeable number of Ambujam Krishna’s compositions in rakthi and vivadhi ragas.
S. Sowmya, one of the prime disciples of Dr. S. Ramanathan, has rendered nine compositions in this CD, which is an edited version of a live concert held in Chennai in September, 2010. The songs are not frequently heard ones of the composer but are highly engaging as a result of the effectiveness of both the tunesmith and the vocalist.
Sowmya is one of those singers whose lakshana and lakshya gnanam are of a very high order. Her deep understanding of the intricacies associated with rakthi ragas is reflected in the vocalisation of the compositions. It’s a bright start with ‘Ni Panulajeya’ in Atana and the permutation combinations during the sarvalaghu solfa passages showcase her maturity as an artist.
Like her guru, Sowmya never fails to satisfy in her swara renditions. A bit of hesitancy is noticeable in violinist R.K. Shriramkumar’s swara replies for the Atana piece, which however settles down later and reveals his rightful position as a senior violinist of merit.
Next is an engaging kriti in Amrithavarshini, ‘Dhyaname Tarume’, which is prefaced with an alapana of meaningful phrases. The highlight of this recording is certainly the vinyasa of Mukhari which Sowmya offers on a wide canvas.
Sowmya’s judicious mix of such phrases coupled with her exemplary manodharma makes the listening of the Mukhari alapana thoroughly enjoyable.
Her voice control, fidelity to sruti and grammar of the raga are testimony to her rigorous training and hard work.
A Tamil song ‘Poruttatkolla’ follows the Mukhari alapana and is a weighty version.
Tala variation in the proceedings set in with ‘Alavedu Eduthuraika’ (Purnachandrika). Ragas such as Kokilapriya have to be rendered without deliberate elongation to sustain listening interest. Sowmya’s musical acumen takes care of this aspect and the alapana is sung to a right proportion avoiding monotony. Another Tamil kriti ‘Sonna Na Inikidu’ follows. Bahudari is a popular raga, though there are limited compositions in it. Dr. Ramanathan has enriched to the list with ‘Nikela Vicharamu’ which is arrestingly sung by the artist. The song ‘Aravinda Lochanane’ in Neetimathi caters to vivadhi raga rasikas. The plain handling of the vivadhi swaras, eschewing unnecessary gamakas is a plus point in favour of the singer.
The tail-enders are ‘Ennai Ninaithidal’ (Behag) and a ragamalika (‘Konjum Silambolikka’). Sowmya’s confidence level while singing these not oft heard songs is high, as a result of the dedicated practice sessions.
Poongulam Subramaniam (mridangam) and K.V. Gopalakrishnan (kanjira) match the varied moods of the compositions with their expertise.