Sumitra Vasudev’s concert was a winning blend of art and arithmetic. The perfectly planned and timed recital carried many charming features like inclusion of some fresh compositions and ragas, balanced raga essays and above all a comprehensive and stimulating Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi.
Mudikondan Venkatrama Iyer’s Abheri raga varnam set off Sumitra’s performance. She included a few rounds of additional kalpanaswaras perhaps to enlighten the audience the original flavour of Abheri in the composer’s patantara and prayogas not exactly in vogue at present. ‘Guruguha’ in Balahamsa of Dikshitar was another new entrant to be followed by Thiruppavai ‘Vaiyathu Vazhveergaal’ in Gowla.
Sumitra delineated a touching Nilambari raga for the kriti ‘Siddiswaraya’ once again from Dikshitar’s treasury. After a brisk ‘Ninnu Joosi’ (Patnam Subbramania Iyer) in Sowrashtram, the distinctive and intense phrases of Thodi filled the hall. One sweep from upper to lower registers showed a brief sum up of the whole melody which consequently unfolded slowly to take the listener to the great echelons of Thodi raga. Here also, Sumitra’s favour fell on a lesser known Tyagaraja composition ‘Brindavana Lola’ set in Rupakam. Enticing lyrics and the niraval on the pallavi and swara stretches landing on ‘Brindavana,’
‘Govinda’ and ‘Aravindanayana’ were smartly woven.
However, the RTP was the highlight of the concert. Ramapriya raga and Pallavi set in Ragavardhanam tala, one among the 108 talas with 19 aksharas (starts with drutam) composed by Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, her guru’s guru, was undoubtedly a memorable experience to the connoisseurs.
The raga interpretation was done in definite terms exploring the strong as well as subtle nuances of Ramapriya. A brief tanam followed to provide sufficient space for the long and testing pallavi ‘Govinda Hare Gopala Mampahi Govardhanodhara’ which went through the entire drills of pallavi singing. The swaras and the ragamalika tags were an experience to cherish. One cannot but think and thank Sumitra’s guru R. Vedavalli who has honed Sumitra’s skills to this extent.
Padma Shankar is a well-known and competent violinist and her replies in Nilambari, Thodi, Ramapriya and the complex pallavi were commendable. So were the understanding and support from B. Sivaraman on mridangam and Trivandrum B. Rajagopal on ghatam in comprehending the pallavi and providing a thani on that. The important point to be noted in this concert was the absolutely subdued but zealous approach and delivery by the entire team.