A crowd-puller, Rithvik Raja’s recital bore the stamp of expert training.
The fairly jammed Academy hall at noon on a working day was testimony to the popularity of Rithvik Raja. The first piece to be elaborated was 'Bhuvini Daasu Dena'...of Tyagaraja in Sriranjani and Desadi. The delivery of the piece bore the stamp of expert training. M. Vijay responded with matching skill on the violin and Burra Sriram spurred his mridangam to keep pace with the right syllables.
Kalpanaswaras gushed out in a torrent, building up to a frenzied crescendo, to come down to a thundering crash - a sure-fire ploy to elicit a rousing applause from the mesmerised audience.
At half-time Rithvik embarked upon a bare 3-minute alapana of Kalyani, characterised more by technical competence than spirited imagination. The song following this, Shyama Sastry's 'Biraana Varaaleechi Brovu,' was also flighty in composition, and more so in rendition. . Both the body of the song and the niraval at 'Shyamakrishna Sodari' received full and appropriate treatment. The Kalyani chapter lasted 10 minutes.
The following 30-minute stretch was allotted to Todi, through alapana, kriti, niraval and kalpanaswara. With a voice naturally limited to the lower range, the artist might have been able to develop, more comfortably, the kriti starting around the gandhara or above. Tyagaraja's 'Daasarathi' was not exactly the best that way. In alapana, the build-up to the upper sthayi from the mantra could have been more pleasant if it had been done less swiftly. The compulsive urge for speed – perhaps with the expectation of accolades - marred many a fine passage with imperfect rendering.
One expected this to automatically curb the pace, but in vain. The violin was notably more controlled and deliberate and the applause was enthusiastic. The delivery of the composition, again, was impeccable and the niraval too. The kalpanaswaras were trimmed to give place to a 5-minute solo to Sriram, who dished out a neat packet, composed mainly of straight, simple chaturasra clusters followed by delightful tisram. The concluding piece, 'Aadum Chidambaram' in Behag was quite appealing. Rithvik holds his sruti perfectly, sings his kritis faithfully and is capable of appealing melody, if only he would eschew speed and flamboyance.