Vasudha Keshava’s concert started on a high note, but faltered towards the end because she chose to ignore the importance of lyrics
Vasudha Keshava sang under the auspices of Ganabharathi (Mysore), accompanied by Veena Suresh (violin), A. Radhesh (mridanga) and V.S. Ramesh (ghata). The event marked the 100th birthday celebration of the veteran musician Puttaramappa, disciple of Asthana Vidvan Shivarudrappa.
Prior to the main show, the veteran sang for a while. It was a rare and memorable experience to hear the centenarian, whose chords, though of frail constitution, did not fail; and the audience whole-heartedly enjoyed Thyagaraja’s ‘Ela Ni Dayaradu’ (Athana) emerging with astounding vitality. He prefaced the composition with a short alapana, and presented it with magisterial accentuations wherever it was necessary to augment the grandeur nested in the composition and the majesty that characterised Athana as well. His deep sense of artistry readily harmonised with the overall musical scenario in its entirety.
Vasudha Keshava’s concert commenced with ‘Chalamela Jesevura’ (Durbar). A padavarna of Swathi Thirunal ‘Sumasayaka Vidhuraamava Madhava’ in Karnataka Kaapi was something rarely heard, and the senior artiste presented it with appreciable fluency. Nevertheless, accentuations needed better clarity for a composition in Sanskrit.
Of all the others that followed, ‘Kripaya Paalaya Shoure’ in Charukeshi (Swathi Thirunal) elevated the ambience to great heights, in matters of involvement on the part of the singer, the right tempo paving way for right expressions and profound impact on the listeners. The presentation ushered them into the bewitching folds of Charukeshi and devotional realms of the import of the composition (observe the charana ‘Vaaraya Maamakhila’).
Alapana in Charukeshi flourished on imaginatively woven movements, and apt pauses allowed sufficient space for the listeners to enjoy and assimilate the progressing extempore.
Neraval at the pallavi complemented the general flow. Yet, relatively she could not extend the same mood that she created in alapana and the main body of the composition into the swarakalpana section, which appealed mainly because of the alluring mood of Charukeshi than of any defined creativity.
Kalyani was the focus of the concert – Dikshithar’s ‘Kamalambam Bhajare’ was the composition on which she built all the expected ingredients. Alapana evolved imaginatively, traversing the three octaves, beautified by subtle graces and vivified by fluent articulations. Lyrical section was neither encouraging nor inspiring — ignoring the importance of lyrics and distorting it is a source of serious concern. The senior singer almost read the composition. Frequently referring to notes compromises the extempore, undermining fluency. Further, splitting or allowing long gaps in inappropriate areas of the lyrics and effecting accentuation in such areas to harmonise with the rhythm patterns, sounds very different.
The number displayed Veena Suresh’s controlled melodic support, as it was from the very commencement, and pleasing thani avarthana by the percussionists. Other interesting numbers were ‘Emani Pogadudura’ (Veeravasantha – Thyagaraja) and ‘Kurai Onrum Illai’ (Ragamalika – Rajaji).
Keywords: Vasudha Keshava