Aishwarya Vidya Raghunath’s performance was marked with intricate phrases that stayed true to their identity

A thematic vocal recital by Aishwarya Vidya Raghunath, devoted entirely to the compositions of Subbaraya Shastri and Annaswamy Shastri, was organized jointly by Ragasudhalaya Trust and Ananya , Bangalore, recently. The accompanying artistes were Aditi Krishnaprakash (violin) and Ranjini Venkatesh (mridanga).

The concert began with a brief sketch of Begada and the Subbaraya Shastri composition ‘Shankari Neeve’ in rupaka thala, suffixed with a few crisp kalpana swaras. The young vocalist came into her own with the following alapana of Dhanyasi. The subtle inflections as well as the heavy gamakas integral to the raga were exemplified in the usages around the gandhara and nishada, and set off by the steady strength of the madhyama.

‘Dalachinavaru’ set to adi thala was succeeded by an exquisite alapana of Shahana, suffused with the tender sweetness of the raga. Imaginative phrases around the rishabha, dhaivatha and nishada, and intricate phrases around the thara shadja stayed true to the classical identity of the complex scale, prefacing ‘Inkevarunnaru Nannu Brova’ in adi thala, a krithi of Annaswami Shastri. The succeeding item, Subbaraya Shastri’s ‘Ninnuvina Gathi’ in Kalyani raga and adi thala was ornamented with a succinct and well crafted neraval and kalpana swaras in the second speed at ‘Vinuthapalini’, though no alapana was attempted.

The main raga of the evening, Todi, was taken up for a fairly detailed alapana, adorned with beautiful and spontaneous sancharas around the madhyama and panchama, notable for the elongated and perfectly sruti aligned pause at the thara shadja and the complex sancharas beyond, attesting to commendable voice control and range. ‘Nannu Brochutaku’, Subbaraya Shastri’s composition in adi thala, was rendered in a sedate tempo commensurate with the majestic gait of the composition and the extended vowels of the sahithya. Technical soundness and abundant powers of improvisation were evident in the leisurely and gamaka laden neraval at ‘Pannagabharanu Rani,’ and in the free flowing kalpana swaras in two speeds that ended with diminishing thala cycles at the thara shadja.

The concluding items were ‘Ninnu Sevinchina’ in Yadukula Kamboji raga and mishra chapu thala, and ‘Sri Kamakshi’ in Saranga raga and adi thala, composed by Shyama Shastri and Annaswamy Shastri respectively.

Introductions to the life and times of Subbaraya Shastri and Annaswami Shastri, the son and grandson of Shyama Shastri, and references to the context and content of the pieces included in the concert by the vocalist were informative.

While elucidation of details such as the affinity for chittaswaras appended with corresponding sahithya, illumined the structure of the compositions, allusions to the family tradition of Devi upasana and the language employed threw light on the substance. The assurance and fluency in the renditions of the rarely heard krithis pointed to a high degree of internalization, a wide repertoire, commendable dedication and commitment to classical values.

Melodious and prompt accompaniment from the violinist, who also excelled in her solo segments, and exemplary percussion in tune with the gait of the compositions and the intent of the lead artiste, augmented the overall impact of the concert.