Modulation is another area Swathi has to take care of.
If anyone thinks the noise pollution in Chennai is not much, they can sit in the Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall to enjoy it! (I had mentioned earlier that it has improved; I take back my words). It was possible to sit through the 12.30 p.m. concert on December 15 only with both the ears plugged.
R. Swathi had carefully chosen ragas for the afternoon session. The promising way in which the Saveri varnam, ‘Sarasuda’ was rendered raised expectations. This was followed by ‘Pahi Pahi Balaganapathe’ in Hamsadwani with a chittaiswaram rendered well. The swaraprastharam invariably ended with tirmanam. It was commendable to choose weighty ragas such as Mukhari, but the alapana was a lack-lustre essay, shining only in parts, and there was absolutely no reach in the lower register. The violinist T.S. Dinesh Kumar’s version was repetitive going back and forth without any pattern. Subbaraya Sastri’s composition ‘Emaninne’ which had an unsteady start, was rendered well but again the swarasahityam was out of sruti. This was followed by ‘Sri Ranganatham Upasmahe’ in Purna Chandrika.
The main raga Pantuvarali could have been more elaborate. Swathi has an open-throated way of singing with a very clear voice which has good reach in the upper octave. If she takes care of the sruti alignment, and also exercises voice control and modulation, the effect will be much better. The violinist shone in contrast though repetitive again.
The surprise came in the choice of kriti, Narayana Teertha’s Tarangam, ‘Kalayata Gopi Karunyarasapura.’ More care is required in pronunciation and splitting of the lyrics also. Niraval and swaraprastharam at “Aavarana Mohavinigraham” were limited, and somehow, starting niraval line with a vowel does not seem appropriate. J. Arvind was unobtrusive on the mridangam. Thankfully, he was subdued what with the blaring from the other two mikes. The thani ended without the violin or the vocalist taking the cue. (Is it actually necessary that they should?)
The tail pieces included ‘Payuji Maine’ preceded by a well-rendered slokam, Bharatiar’s ‘Pagaivanukkarulvay Nannenje’ in ragamalika and Swati Tirunal’s ‘Pahi Jagajjanani’ in Hamsanandi.