Yesudas's concert presented itself in two distinct phases - up to the main piece, and the main piece. The first was mostly flat. The second was simply superb. Such an enigma the artist is that you would not believe, unless you had been present in the hall, that it was the same person who sang such an insipid Thodi and followed it up with a poignant Chakravagam that pushed the listener into reverent silence.
The Chakravagam alapana began with the raga's signature phrases and Yesudas developed it with effortless ease, presenting a brilliant picture soaked in classicism. The septuagenarian had absolutely no difficulty in straddling the octaves, reaching right up to the second upper sa, and dipping down to the second lower. He brought forth a spiritual appeal into the singing, with a liberal use of the 'ma pa ga' combination, the ga thrown out in a graceful glide, like a swooping eagle.
‘Inka Daya,’ a rare Patnam Subramanya Iyer composition, was a treat, with niraval at the charam line, 'santatam.' And the kalpana swaras, several of them of single tala cycle, had an amazing variety.
Strange indeed that the maestro sang such an uninspiring Thodi and a pedestrian Nagaswarali earlier. The puritanical rasika finds the spasmodic spikes and dips in volume disturbing, very ‘light,’ and completely out of place in Carnatic music. The Thodi alapana was plain and the song that followed, ‘Thaye Yasoda,’ sounded strange, and the niraval at surprising point, ‘Balanalladi,’ came out looking sorry. Likewise, the Nagaswaravali (‘Sri Pathe’ of Tyagaraja), compared with the benchmark set by K.V. Narayaswami, failed to impress. But wedged between the Thodi and Nagaswaravali was a splendid Hindolam (‘Maamavatu’ of Vasudevachar). What a picture of contrast!
Mahadeva Sarma on the violin provided pleasant accompaniment. Harikumar played effervescent mridangam, with the active collaboration of H. Sivaramakrishnan on the ghatam.
Keywords: K.J. Yesudas