There was raga bhava in Nisha Rajagopal’s singing. Clarity in presentation marked Smitha Madhav’s concert

A smooth flowing voice tempts an artist to sing in a fast mode. This gives listeners time only to listen and not to appreciate the lyric.

Such was the impression that Nisha Rajagopal gave in her concert for Thyaga Brahma Gana Sabha’s Sri Jayanthi series.

Her musicianship adhered to accepted standards of sangita as there was not a single sign of cheapness either in the alapana or rendering of kirtanas.

The simple straightforward presentation was satisfying but raga bhava and the significant nuances of the kirtanas were somewhat elusive. The programme progressed on conventional lines.

The raga sketches of Vachaspathi (‘Kanthjoodumi’), Kedaragowla (‘Samiki Sari Evvare’) and Thodi (‘Koluva Maregada’) permeated with traditional sancharas. Though it looked like a series of systematically arranged sancharas, the classical purity was maintained.

Fluent manodharma determined the pace of the sancharas. What was noteworthy was the shared experience between Nisha and the violinist Hemalatha both in revealing the images of ragas and also in the observance of racy kalapramana.

The patanthara of kirtanas was good and helped preserve the tempo. But the Kedaragowla piece and ‘Soundararajam’ (Brindavana Saranga) caused a setback but things were back on the right track with the Thodi composition. The other items included ‘Gana Moorthe’ (Ganamoorthi) and ‘Emidova Balkoma’ (Saranga).

The mridanga vidwan Shertalai Ananthakrishnan and the ghatam player Chandrasekhara Sarma linked their supportive niceties to the extent the manner of Nisha Rajagopal’s singing demanded. The thani was exemplary.

Sedate, but sweet

The concert of Smitha Madhav for Sri Thyagaraja Seva Samiti’s Bahulapanchami series, was in general pleasing. She has a thin but sweet voice, but it’s not strong enough to convey depth. The compensatory feature was her instinct to go into sahitya bhava while rendering kirtanas.

The way she split the sandhis in the words ensured clarity. There was absolutely no external sophistication in ragas and songs as well. She adhered to the main ingredients of Carnatic music, and did not yield to spasmodic sentiments.

The light vocal touch has become a trend among young vidushis today and this has come to gain preponderance in their objectives. But in Smitha’s case, this factor did not induce her from deep involvement and clear perspective.

Smitha handled the alapanas of Subha Pantuvarali (‘Ennalu Oorolle’) and Sankarabharanam (‘Swara Raga Sudha’) with minimal details. There was no over-exuberance of manodharma or splendour of expression to make the image of the ragas compellingly absorbing. The distinguishing element was the respect she showed for Tyagaraja’s songs.

The kirtana list was fairly well-chosen – ‘Narada Guruswami’ (Durbar), ‘Raghunayaka’ (Hamsadhwani) and ‘Pariya Chakama’ (Vanaspati). These pieces were simple but elevating.

Smitha was accompanied by S.V. Sudarsan on the violin. The mridangam support from K.H. Vineet to a large extent raised the standard of the recital with delightful, subdued speedy laya passages. A sense of proportion marked his accompanying technique.