For the first time ever, K.J. Yesudas and Vijay Yesudas tuned in for a Carnatic vocal recital at Tripunithura.

Vijay Yesudas was singing a kutcheri along with his father K.J. Yesudas for the first time. The venue was the Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetha Sabha, Tripunithura. The hall was packed to capacity. It was a perfect setting for a very important moment in Vijay’s career. And he knew that all eyes and ears would be trained on him.

The two microphones meant for Yesudas and Vijay were placed side-by-side. “I’m going to sit at least two steps behind appa for this concert. And I know that it will take me two generations to come anywhere close to him,” said Vijay before the concert.

Yesudas was at his best. Even at 74 his voice had power, that magnetic charm. Realising that Vijay was singing along, Yesudas did not get into rare ragas but chose to stick to those that Vijay was familiar and comfortable with.

A varnam in Valachi followed by a brisk rendering of ‘Vaarana mukha…’ (Rugmambari) set the pace for the concert. Yesudas rendered ‘Paavanaguru…’ (Hamsaanandi) and ‘Ksheera sagara…’ (Devagandhari) with Vijay joining in. Yesudas paused in between, allowing Vijay to explore the ragas on his own for a while. The rendering was interspersed with Yesudas’ advice and lessons to young singers who had gathered there, the winners of the annual Augustine Joseph Memorial Music Competition conducted by the Sabha.

Ragam-tanam-pallavi in Kharaharapriya saw Yesudas at his masterly best. Using all his experience on the concert stage, he led the audience through the colours and shades of the raga. Beginning with a brief alapana, leaving Mahadeva Sharma to etch the phrases on his violin as close as possible to what Yesudas had sung, he got to the tanam. Kharaharapriya was elaborated with improvisation in a faster tempo, set to perfect rhythm, flowing smoothly into the pallavi joined in by N. Hari (mridangam) and Vazhappally Krishnakumar (ghatam). Yesudas broke into a series of neravals, stretching one line of the pallavi into numerous musical phrases. He capped it with kalpana swarams, exploring the dimensions of the raga. The mridangam and ghatam now went solo in a neatly balanced taniavarthanam.

Yesudas wound up the concert with a string of popular semi-classical devotionals such as the popular ‘Oru neram engillum…’ (Chowallur Krishnankutty-T.S. Radhakrishnan), ‘Hridayathin kadanathal…’ (Damodaran Namboodiri-Yesudas), ‘Harivarasanam’ and ‘Yogindranam’ from Narayaneeyam. Vijay was on a much more comfortable zone when he rendered a devotional written by S. Ramesan Nair and set to music by Manju Jaya-Vijaya.

“We had not planned this concert. We could not sit down together and discuss how to go about it. Vijay has a long way to go and he himself said this. He needs to practise, get the swara sthanas right, sing a lot more to fly on his own. This is just a start,” said Yesudas.

The concert was in connection with the 39th annual celebrations of the Sabha.