A vocal concert by Gayathri Venkataraghavan, accompanied by S. Seshagiri Rao (violin), C. Cheluvaraju (mridanga), and Dayananda Mohite (ghata), was organised by the MES Kalavedi, Bangalore, recently as part of its P.S. Nagarajan Endowment Programme.
The recital began with “Neranammithi”, the attatala varna in Kanada, drawing out the lilting sweetness of the raga in the first speed and imparting a sense of vitality with the second. An evocative rendering of Thyagaraja's “Guruleka Etuvanti” in Gaurimanohari raga and khanda chapu thala incorporated a well constructed neraval and several avarthanas of kalpana swaras at “Thathvabodhana Jesi”. The compact alapana of Purvikalyani, which followed, progressed rapidly to the thara sthayi, was sustained by long pauses at the shadja and gandhara, and included some fast passages around the madhya sthayi gandhara during the descent. The Purandaradasa composition “Manavajanma” set to mishra chapu thala was sung at an unhurried pace and rounded off with kalpana swaras.
A brief alapana of Natakapriya that revealed its distinct identity was followed by the exquisite “Marajananeem Ashraye” in adi tala, composed by N.C.H. Ramanujacharyulu. The krithi, brimming with lyrical beauty and embellished with literary devices such as madhyamakala sahithya and gopuccha yathi, was rendered with due consideration to both musical structure and content. Adorned with kalpana swaras at “Natakapriyanuthaam”, the item proved to be one of the highlights of the performance.
Shankarabharanam was next taken up for a meticulous, melodious and gamaka infused expansion that also included some intricate briga based sancharas, notably around the thara sthayi gandhara. Shyama Shasthri's “Sarojadalanethri” in adi thala was supplemented with a detailed and bhava laden neraval at “Samaganavinodini” that was especially effective in the tara sthayi. The kalpana swaras included diminishing tala cycles that landed at the panchama, dhaivatha and so on up to the tara sthayi gandhara before the last long segment and final rhythmic sequence, with appropriate support from the accompanying artistes, and was succeeded by a vibrant and proportionate thani avarthana. Though the verve and sparkle of the first two items seemed somewhat diminished in the subsequent presentations, the concert bore testimony to the artiste's dedicated approach, expertise and powers of improvisation.