Sowmya's strength lies in her creative finesse and sense of balance.
Begada and Kharaharapriya were the substantive themes of Sowmya's concert. She offered a pensive alternative to high voltage singing. About 80 per cent of the time was devoted to cover the full expanse of these two majestic ragas.
Begada's peculiar arohana structure is both a challenge and opportunity. Sowmya deployed solid descriptions to flavour the raga, including many inspired phrases hovering around 'ni'. It was a lesson on raga lakshana.
The song ‘Ganarasamudan' of Papanasam Sivan was a brisk contrast to the karvai-filled raga alapana. The swaraprastharas at “Manam Kulira” toed the general imaginative tenor. The concert began with ‘Eranapai' in Thodi and ‘Brochevarevare' (Sriranjani, Tyagaraja) with warm-up swaras. ‘Sudha Madhurya Bhashini (Sinduramakriya) with crisp swaras at ‘Madhurya' was creative.
Kharaharapriya's life comes from Tyagaraja and Papanasam Sivan. Besides the plethora of kritis, the two greats composed in this raga, they have encircled the raga with many experiments and starting swaras.
Sowmya's raga alapana was a compendium of these prayogas as she sang a treatise. Short poetic syllables and phrases were matched adroitly by Embar Kannan, whose sweetness and occasional folksy indulgences were brilliant. ‘Janakipathe' of Papanasam Sivan meant that only few composers were featured in the concert. Sowmya's quest for innovation took us to ‘Saroruha Charana' for niraval and kalpanaswaras, exploiting the janta ‘sa sa' starting point well. A fine sense of balance in these is Sowmya's strength.
H.S. Sudhindra and K.V. Gopalakrishnan (ganjira) supported with soft play throughout. Their thani was engaging without the usual ‘bang' finishes that are often unnecessary. The tail segment of the concert (Bharatiar songs, ‘Smara Sundaranguni' - Paras) whimpered a bit without the usual adornments perhaps due to paucity of time.