It was two hours of non-stop melody.
In her vocal recital for Connoisseur's Club at Parvathi hall, Dr. Lakshmi Sriram offered a balanced fare to the accompaniment of Anantha Padmanabha on the violin and Thiruvananthapuram Hariharan on mridangam. The Parvathi Hall on Eldams Road can comfortably seat 50 persons.
A bracing Adi tala varnam in Durbar madhyamakalam set the pace for what turned out to be a continuous two-hour flow of melody. Muthuswamy Dikshitar's composition in Raga Malahari in a leisurely Rupaka talam, served as an invocation to Ganesa and as a majestic forerunner to the rest of the performance.
With a short exchange of kalpanaswaras, this led to a sketching of Janaranjani for Tyagaraja's ‘Vidajala gura' in Adi, concluding with a few kalpanaswaras in duritam. Full justice was done to Suratti alapana in all the three sthayis. The delineation, lasting for nearly 10 minutes, was original in a raga in which one is prone to slip into clichés. Lakshmi's voice could reach the upper panchama effortlessly and sustain it without trailing in power or melody, in a slow or fast pace.
After this, it was again Dikshitar's ‘Kodandarajaya Namaste' in Rupakam in madhyama kalam. Kalpanaswaras figured here too. The only major item with pratimadhyama in Ranjani appeared half an hour after start at this stage. Tyagaraja's ‘Dunmargachara' was taken up for elaboration after a short preface, with a few fast kalpanaswaras. After a long time, one heard Tyagaraja's ‘Tulasi bilva' in Kedaragowla and Adi. Lakshmi introduced the kriti from the anupallavai, taking off at the upper shadja with great power. The kriti was competently rendered with the sanctity that it commanded, and concluded tastefully without the flourish of swaras. After a racy Vasanta came up Bhairavi done in elaborate style. Matching the song, both the vocalist and violinist led the alapana to the upper shadja, to blend into Swati Tirunal's ‘Bhavadeeya Katha.' With niraval and kalpanaswara at ‘Bhava Sagara Tarana,' this phase was delectable, culminating in the thani.
Lakshmi concluded her recital with Gopalakrishna Bharati's ‘Varuvaaro' in Sama and a thillana in Hamsanandi.
Anantha Padmanabha displayed rich imagination and sensitivity; his playing merged well with the ethos created by the singer. While Hariharan's thani showed good training and skill, his accompanying could do with a little more imagination, which should follow in the years to come.
The acoustics, the traffic outside and rather loud amplification, however, proved deterrents.