Seetha Narayanan revealed her maturity and concert planning in her recital (as the replacement for Kerala vocalist Omanakutty). Her kutcheri had neither frills nor frivolous attachments to comment upon and it was a plain, straight performance. The tame start - Thodi Varnam ‘Era Na Pai’ – gave place to a strong follow-up as the concert gained momentum.
With a sloka as a prelude, Seetha Narayanan sang ‘Vatapi Ganapathim Bhajeham,’ with a sprinkle of swarakalpana. Being a Tuesday, Dikshitar’s kriti ‘Angaragam Asrayamham’ in Surati followed. What stood out in the concert was the alapana for the ragas Subapantuvarali, Sankarabharanam and Thodi.
While Subapantuvarali had a tinge of pathos built, the kriti, ‘Ennallu Yurake’ of Tyagaraja offered enough scope to the vocalist to use the raga’s salient points through elaborate niraval and swaraprastharas, for the Anupallavi line ‘Konnallu Saketapura Mela.’
For ‘Enduku Peddala,’ the Sankarabharanam kriti of Tyagaraja, the vocalist’s exploration of the raga was full of energy and exuberance. (It has become a routine to sing ‘Enduku Peddala,’ for Sankarabharanam. Why not a ‘Swararaga Sudha or ‘Manasu Swadina’ of Tyagaraja or ‘Sarojadhalanetri’ of Syama Sastri?)
Seetha Narayanan’s voice travelled in all the three sthayis effortlessly and she used modulation too, diligently. The niraval and swaras for the line ‘Veda Sastra Thathvarthamulu’ were not overly done and then the Thani followed.
Thanjavur Ramadas on mridangam and Papanasam Sethuraman on Kanjira created their session with a sunadham-oriented Thani. Especially, if Ramadas’ controlled play enhanced the status of the concert, the booming sound of the ganjira made one sit back and listen. His accompaniment, along with Ramdas, was also noticeable, because Ramdas gave enough space for the upa-pakkavadyam to be heard.
The soft ‘Sama’ kriti, ‘Annapurne Visalakshi’ of Muthuswamy Dikshitar served as filler before Seetha Narayanan took up the Thodi raga alapana in a grand fashion. Since it was meant for Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi, it had to be elaborate and the vocalist did not rest until every special ‘pidi’ of the majestic raga was used in her raga vistara. After the ‘Thanam’, the vocalist sang the pallavi ‘Velavane Ninathu Padhame’ in Thisra Jati Jampa (four ‘kalai’). There was enough time for sufficient swarakalpanas.
The beautiful ragamalika of Purandaradasa ‘Nanenu Madidhanu Krishna’ and the concluding Tulsidas Bhajan were full of bhava and were evocatively rendered. The violin play of Nalina Mohan was uniformly good while accompanying for the kritis and during her solo alapana versions, as well as, niraval and swaraprasthara.