Sowmya stuck to tradition in her recital.
The performance of S. Sowmya at Sri Krishna Gana Sabha was a curtain-raiser of sorts to the Tiruvaiyaru Tyagaraja Aradhana. All the songs were that of the Saint. His devotional kirtanas are the saving grace of today’s kutcheri standard. The mind of a musician gets attuned to real traditional values by rendering them as Sowmya’s concert surfaced. It was a grand treat to sampradaya appetite. The programme helped her resolve the conflict between popularity and the call of standard.
In today’s kutcheri environment musical salesmanship is vital. Many young artists today are exemplary practitioners of the market philosophy. But in Sowmya’s recital the ruthlessness of the popularity syndrome was totally absent. In presenting kirtanas she stuck to traditional purity culture built over the decades.
This wholesome basic foundation found its proper place in the raga alapanas and the songs. A sense of proportion gave distinguished contours to her musical ideal.
In the vinyasas of Madhyamavati (‘Naadupai Palikeru’), Varali (‘Eti Jenmamidhi Haa’) and Sankarabharanam (‘Swara Raga Sudha’) she invoked the specific features to focus on their tangible image.
They were portraits of commitment creating an impression of immensity and mellowed artistry.
Rich in expression and magnitude, the Sankarabaranam alapana touched its poetic face to unfold its pensive emotions later in the interpretation of the song. It was not good programming to relegate such an alapana and song to the last 20 minutes. It deserved better positioning.
The grand way in which she built up Madhyamavati was vibrant, with a sense of balance and compelling technique. In presenting the song ‘Naadupai’ she was able to get an insight into the anguished aura of the gossip of contemporaries that tormented Tyagaraja. The niraval built around ‘Payojaksha Sri Tyagarajanuta’ was classic by delving deep into her musical resources.
The overwhelming devotional sentiment embossed on the kirtana ‘Geethaarthamu’ was the diadem in her recital.
The other Tyagaraja songs included ‘Enta Bhaayamu’ (Saranga), ‘Sarvabowma’ (Raga pancharam) and ‘Koniyade Naayeda’ (Kokiladwani).
The gentle mode of the concert cast its influence on the response of M. Narmada in her violin solo versions.
Fingering versatility was fairly subdued. Manoj Siva (mridangam) and Chandrasekhara Sarma (ghatam) were equally responsive to the lightened tenor of Sowmya’s singing.