Kalpalatika's strength is her vast repertoire and pleasing phrases. Vasuda Kesav's music was intellectually appealing.Bala Shankar

Kalpalatika came across as a keen student of music, willing to experiment, and conscious of her shortcomings. The long journey to Carnatic stardom needs these qualities. Her concert for this sabha had its highs and lows but she seems to be on a purposeful track.

If the hurry and unwillingness to enjoy staying at pausative notes can be held against her, her large repertoire of good phrases in raga singing is her strength. Her elaboration of Thodi was extensive but not precise and elegant. She will learn these facets as she experiments cleverly.

An important aspect that Kalpalatika should attend to is a good voice production that stays true to sruti. Good musical grooming was evident in her rendition of ‘Ardhanareeswaram' (Kumudakriya) and ‘Naachai Vidavakura' (Nattakurinji, Mysore Vasudevachar). Niraval at ‘Deva Deva' had appreciable embellishments. ‘Sri Krishnam Bhaja Manasam' (Dikshitar) was sung with sangathi pravaham and anuswarams that one does not usually get to hear. Some of the lyrics were twisted as well (example: ‘Makuta Mandala instead of ‘Mandita'). Lyrical fidelity is equally important as swara and sruthi sudham. Attention to these would be a prerequisite for Kalpalalitika's progress from here.

We will hear a lot more about Nagercoil Anand who accompanied very elegantly on the violin with a lot of poise and brevity. Madurai B. Sundar gave effective support on the mridangam aligning well with the song contours.

Vasuda Kesav has a classical chaste approach to her music. Her concert was built on a suite of Bahudari (‘Unnadiye Gathi,' composed by GNB), Vanaspati and Thodi. Her renditions were articulate and assured but artist-centric. The raga delineations, choice of kriti (kalapramana) and manodharma segments in niraval and swara segments were an examiner's delight, if it were an M.Phil examination. One felt Vasuda could have done more in programming to establish rapport with the audience. ‘Ranga Puravihara' (Brindavana Saranga) was too brief to matter. Striking a balance between staying classical and yet being audience-friendly is important. The slow-medium pace of the concert perhaps accentuated the gap.

Vasuda's music was intellectually appealing, especially in the raga alapana of Vanaspati (‘Pariyachakama,' Saint Tyagaraja) and in the interesting Thodi song, ‘Kunramkudi Konda Velava' of Papanasam Sivan (Adi 2 kalai), especially in the niraval at ‘Undran Pugazh Kanavilum.'

The malleability of Vasuda's voice and reach added to her forte. Her concluding pieces included ‘Kaithala Nirai Kani' of Arunagirinathar. Her musical competence was matched well by violinist, S.P. Anantha Padmanabha. Percussionist Nellai Balaji did not pursue the maxim, “the first lesson in learning to play is to learn when not to play.”

The thani along with Nanganallur Swaminathan (ghatam) was enjoyable but accompaniment does not have to be relentless motion for the fingers.

Keywords: Carnatic music