Most stepped into the auditorium with skepticism and within a matter of minutes got rooted to their seats as musician D. Vardhani unveiled her vocal concert with a rare Tamil composition Nee arulvayo taaye… set to Bhairavi, tinting it with swara and sahitya that tapered off beautifully to a close.
The drutha kalai Ganapathi sugunanidhe… (Harikesinallur Bhagavatar) in Janaranjani with its brisk chittaswara gave the momentum for the opening of the concert which went on with rare kritis in known ragas.
An elaborate alapana as a raga like Kambhoji demands, where the vocalist touched upon the subtle shades of this melodic strain with technical perfection and accompanied bhava, made way for the lovely Kuzhaloodhi manamellam… an all-time favourite in the south music circuit. R. Dinakar’s violin traced the alapana in equally striking tones. The sangathis flowed with eloquence in this innately rhythmic kriti of Oothukkadu, and the neraval delineation at the line makara kundalamaadavum… was remarkable.
The cadent Kambhoji and the lilting composition seemed made for each other. Samajavara gamana… in Hindolam with its varied sangathis were treated to different dimensions in her gamaka-laden tones which kept the audience glued.
The extensive prefacing of the Ramamanohari (a Dikshitar kriti Maatangi mamava) with the raga bhava emerging out at every turn was indeed superb but then the swarakalpana following the explicating neraval was way too brief at Ramamanohari rakendhu shekari sukhakari… Though it is not a rule as such, our sensibilities would appreciate a greater treatment when it comes to Dikshitar by way of manodharma because of the complexity of his kritis in general as well as the dignity of Sanskrit as such.
The Kaapi raga emanated in its enriching timbre and enthralled the audience with Dinakar’s reflection of this very dulcet raga on his violin.
The all-embracing alapana only served to enrich the mellifluent Kaapi which seemed to permeate the environs.
Then the maestro gave us a glimpse of her mastery over the tanam in its most vibrant form keeping us gazing at her in wonder. The pallavi was a tribute to Dr. Sripada Pinakapani, who had composed the lines of the pallavi setting it to a very complicated tala structure of sankeernajathi triputa, which of course Vardhani demonstrated before she began for a better understanding.
Her confidence was marvellous as she undertook all the three cycles of speed within the context of this byzantine tala count. It was like a jugglery with math. Sri Lalithambika peethavarnathi garvithe… the pallavi which was in the form of a couplet had embedded the raga mudra (name) within its first line, got enhanced with a spiralling swarakalpana that welled up like a fountain sprinkling its fragrant waters all over us.
The tani avarthanam by Jaibhaskar was up to the mark as the mridangam conversed with the ghatam (P.V. Ramanamurthy), we had some enthusiastic moments watching the two percussionists talk by way of music to each other. Going by the organisation perhaps, the concert made for a generous sprinkling of Tamil and Telugu kritis which was commendable.
The recital was part of South Indian Cultural Association’s monthly concert series at Ravindra Bharathi.