Music Sudha Ragunathan's concert, for Carnatica — Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha, was more sedate than strident and Savita Narasimhan's was compelling.

In the Carnatica-Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha series, the performance of Sudha Ragunathan was in a way a homage to M.L. Vasanthakumari. So, it was framed in the image of her guru. In alapana pattern and style of rendering songs she deployed her versatile voice with an emphatic streak of flamboyance.

To set the MLV reminiscence rolling, she sang the tisra nadai Hamsadhwani kirtana 'Namami Vigna Vinayaka,' a picture of technique and flair. It was followed by 'Nee Dayarada' (Vasantha Bhaivari).

Sedate alapana

Dhanyasi was taken up for alapana. It was comfortably developed, flowing with cohesiveness. It was more sedate than strident. The kirtana was 'Sangita Gnanamu' rendered with an intellectual approach.

The main thrust of the recital was centred on the extended elaboration of Mohanam providing enough scope for her style overlaid with ornate sequences of sancharas. The angles and folds of her brigas fully served the purpose of the specific kutcheri. This aspect of raga presentation was handled with extreme thoroughness in design and dexterous display.

The Vasudevachar song 'Ra Ra Rajeeva Lochana' was interpreted in such as way as to convey its excellence. It was her understanding of the quiet force of dedicated rendering. The beauty of the kirtana's sangatis was highlighted that solicited the attention of the rasikas. It brimmed with qualities that created an impressive impact. The item was embroidered with a slew of swaras.

The real MLV spirit was invoked in the Purandara Dasa's piece, 'Hari Smarane.' Both the sahitya and the kirtana structure were handled with vocal enrichment. It did much to enhance the spirit of devotion. This was followed by other hits including 'Chinna Chiru Kiliye.'

Mysore Srikant was the violin accompanist who followed Sudha Ragunathan's musical thinking with fidelity. His raga versions were crisp. Neyveli Skandasubramanian (mridangam) and R. Raman (morsing) lent their support through deft laya phrasings.

Poised presentation

In her performance at the same venue, Savita Narasimhan let the listeners know that her mind was sharply tuned to sangita's refinement and delicacy. Her training has equipped her to sing with lyrical intensity helped by sadhana ethics. Though there was penetrative passion for excellence, conscious concern for classicism formed the corner stone of her exposition. Voice modulation and a sense of restraint provided the response to her aspiration for accomplishment. If the higher purpose of music is to instil repose, she is well gifted in this respect.

Savita's alapana technique and the motive of rendering kirtanas were directed to poised presentation. There was purity of purpose in such an effort. The sancharas in alapanas and interpretation of kirtanas conveyed aesthetic warmth and were not just musical exercise. Though appearing simplistic there was sufficient depth.

Savita chose Mayamalavagowla as the first alapana item. A raga that is inherently gracious, its richness was beautifully disguised in oscillating melodic phrasings. The lucid elaboration of the raga with subtle variations of Mayamalavagowla's shades was pamperingly enjoyable. The exhilaration springing from equanimity conferred supreme sowkhyam and this particular quality was capped by the kirtana 'Vidulaku'. She sang the song in soothing style aided by vocal felicity to make the interpretation compelling and thoughtful.

By then her voice had gained sufficient melodic visranti to render an excellent Sankarabharanam. She drew enormously from her talent pool to make it impressively appealing through judiciously chosen sancharas. That reflected the radiance and the raga's subtleties. Vocal flexibility and rakti promptings ensured maturity providing the rasikas a fresh feeling of pleasure. The gentleness of her voice was the most integral part in determining the elegance of her Sankarabharanam. To match it, she sang 'Akshaya Linga Vibho.'

The other items in her concert were 'Bhuvini Daasudane' (Sriranjani) 'Sankari Neeve' (Begada) and 'Bandurithi' (Hamsanadam).

Pleasant surprise

Javali is an endangered species. 'Ni Matale Mayenura', (Purvikalyani) as Savita sang, wafted a as whiff of salubrious breeze.

Savita and Akkarai Subbalakshmi (violinist) looked like musical twins. The rhythm of pauses and paces in the latter's solo versions of the ragas opened up her creative process. Her responsible accompaniment lent distinction to carry the recital to a higher plane. For her age, her bowing technique and insight into the heart of the ragas were stunning. She well reconciled her immense manodharma with interpretative capacity.

B. Sivaraman (mridangam) and Anirudh Atreya (ganjira) revealed both technique and skill in their play.