Variety made Radha Nambudiri’s recital engaging.

One could identify a few gurus belonging to the Semmangudi school and a dozen star female musicians in the auditorium when Radha Nambudiri performed in the morning slot. Vidwan P.S. Narayanasami later confirmed that Radha Nambudiri was indeed his guru’s direct disciple.

Radha Nambudiri has a soft, melodious voice and her presentation of alapanas, niravals or swarakalpanas were of appropriate length proportionate to the main kriti. There was no overdoing or over-stretching and hence the presentation was crisp.

The opening ‘Nee Satti Deivam’ (Sriranjani) had a beautiful chittaswara passage and it almost set the pace for the programme. The next kriti was Mysore Vasudevacharya’s ‘Vande Anisamaham’ in Hamsadhwani. Here too, the vocalist did not choose to have kalpanaswara, but was content with the chittaswaram. However, the third number, ‘Ikanaina Na moravinarara’ in Pushpalatika had short swaraprastharam for ‘Akalanga Neeve’.

Only for the fourth item of the concert, Radha Nambudiri came out with an alapana of considerable merit for the raga Ramapriya. It was brief, but she was able to present the raga swarupa clearly etched. Shertalai Sivakumar’s violin response was equally good. The Patnam Subramaniya Iyer’s ‘Korinavaramu’ was the kriti and the vocalist dwelt on the line, ‘Sarivarilola nannu,’ for her brief niraval and swarakalpana.

A moving piece in Thodi, at a leisurely pace was Syama Sastri’s ‘Raave Himagirikumari’ and Radha Nambudiri’s low pitched rendering was a remarkable item. The absence of alapana for a major raga like Thodi did not take away the weight of the kriti rendition. The soft percussive touches by Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan (mridangam) and Pudukkottai Ramachandran (ghatam) enhanced the listening pleasure. In fact, throughout the concert, their laya support was unobtrusive and only in the Thani segment, did they come out with some brilliant rhythmic beats to showcase their individual talent.

Muthuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Sri Mathrubhutham’ in Kannada was a sedate presentation and the vocalist took the line ‘Suvasitha Navajavantipushpa Vikasapriya’ from charanam, instead of the usual ‘vasavadhi deva’ for swarakalpana and it turned out to be different.

Radha Nambudiri’s Kiravani raga alapana was a fairly long expedition wherein she could blend her imaginative sancharas into the raga to make it more appealing.

‘Thani’ was followed by Papanasam Sivan’s Vasanta raga kriti, ‘Malmaruga Shanmuka.’ It was time for Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi and the vocalist embarked upon Sankarabharanam alapana in two parts. The second was more colourful than the first one, while the violin support was uniformly enjoyable. ‘Shanmuka Deivamaniye, Gnana Nanmaniye, Gurumaniye’ was taken up for pallavi and the swara sallies were crisp.

Narayana Tirtha’s ‘Saranambhava Krishna’ in Kapi was a lilting piece. Swati Tirunal’s ‘Panimadhi Mukibale Padmanabhanin’ in manipravalam was an alluring Padam. Radha Nambudiri ended her recital with a Thillana in Yadukulakhambodi. There was variety in the choice of kritis and the result was an engaging concert.

(charukesiviswanathan@yahoo.co.in)