Amritha Murali had selected the songs in keeping with the spirit of Vaikunta Ekadasi. Purandaradasa’s “Ninne Vaikunta” in Varali, (beautifully tuned by violinist R.K. Sriramkumar) with a breezy and well-rendered raga alapana, was a good choice. Niraval and kalpanaswaram at “Ranganayakanendu Paravasudevane,” with good support from the accompanists, took the audience to a different level.

Amritha’s voice opens up beautifully in the upper octave and the effect is good. The Mukhari raga alapana was neatly presented; but the effect of such rakti ragas is better felt with more chowka kala passages. “Entaninne Varninthunu” with niraval and kalpanaswara at “Kanulaara” was a good attempt with niraval scoring over swaram. The violinist Dr Hemalatha’s raga essay was excellent and her bowing is soothing to the ears.

The concert started with the Kanada raga Adi Tala Varnam “Ninnekori” followed by Tyagaraja’s “Kuvalayadalanayana” in Nattakurinji with kalpanaswara. Though flawless, a little modulation in the voice would have created a better impact. A not-so-often heard GNB composition “Kamalacharane” in Amrutha Behag and Dikshitar’s Gaulipantu raga kriti “Krishnanada Mukunda Murare” were rendered well.

Begada, the main raga of the evening was portrayed with great intensity. The Tyagaraja kriti, “Nadopasana” with kalpanaswaram at “Tantrilaya” led to a short and engrossing thani by Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar on the mridangam and Nergunam Shankar on the ganjira.

M.D. Ramanathan’s haunting and beautiful kriti in Bhagesri “Ksheera Sagara Sayana Vibho,” was preceded by a ragamalika slokam which included Kapi, Hamsanandi and Bhagesri, the ragas sliding smoothly from one to the other. She concluded the concert with Syama Sastri’s Sri raga kriti “Karunajuda.”

Raji Gopalakrishnan

Raji Gopalakrishnan started her concert with the lively Andolika raga varnam “Needaya” of GNB to whom this season’s music series of Shanthi Arts Foundation is dedicated. It was as though MLV had come alive and was singing the varnam for you! “Jaya Jaya Jaya Janaki Kantha” in Nattai and “Paripalayamam” in Ritigowla with kalpanaswara followed. Here the beauty of the raga was brought out effortlessly. Such is the strength of Raji’s voice.

Dikshitar’s not-often-sung (popularised by GNB as the vocalist said) “Karikalabhamukham” was preceded by a touching Saveri raga alapana, with beautiful panchama varja phrases. “Sudhamadhurya bhashini” in Vandana Dharini, with raga essay, niraval and kalpana swaram at “Parameswari Sri Parvathi” was lively with good support from the violin.

Raji sang the fast paced “Marugelara,” Tyagaraja kriti in Jayantasri before embarking on the main raga, Mohanam. She presented a full picture of the raga with all its essence. Violinist M.R. Gopinath’s raga essay of Mohanam as well as Saveri earlier were commendable and pleasing to the ears. Pallavi Gopala Iyer’s kriti, “Sri Ramaa Ramani Manohara,” with detailed niraval at “Atulitha Divyagunaabharana” (splitting the sahityam properly) and kalpanaswara with good patterns followed.

A thin audience did not deter Raji’s enthusiasm. Papanasam Kumar played very well on the mridangam and the thani with Rajaram on the ghatam (the sound was good) was a treat. Surprisingly the whole concert was devoid of Sampoorna ragas.

Periyasamy Thooran’s “Samaganapriye” preceded by a few lines from “Shyamala Dandakam” sung in Sama, Saaranga Tarangini, Chandrakauns and Anandabhairavi, and Suddananda Bharathi’s “Karanam Kettu Vadi” in Purvikalyani both popularised by GNB were beautifully rendered.

Youngsters and students of music should never miss such concerts.