“Surutti Onre Podhume” was the feeling after listening to Vikram Raghavan’s raga alapana, in his concert for Narada Gana Sabha. Building it up slowly, covering all the intricacies of Surutti, including sancharas in the lower register, Vikram went on to sing Dikshitar’s Navagraha kriti ‘Angarakam’ which was an earnest attempt. Only the voice gave away here and there. Adherence to sruti also took a back seat. The elaborate niraval at Dinarakshakam… was well-executed (diction, however, is very important – e.g. Danavasura sounded like Danavacura).

Vikram started the concert with the Saveri varnam, ‘Sarasuda’ and went on to present Dikshitar’s ‘Narasimha Aagaccha’ in Mohanam. The swaraprastara at ‘Murahara Nagadhara’ had good, systematic and progressive patterns. There was abundant energy in fact bordering on over-enthusiasm. With swaras rolling out, Vikram could not contain himself until he became breathless at one point. This was followed by Tyagaraja’s ‘Bhajana Seyu Margamunu Jupave’ in Narayani.

The beauty of the ragam Bhairavi was presented in its entirety. The voice, which hitherto was giving problems, opened out and the result was a flawless and thoroughly enjoyable alapana. The violinist M. Vijay gave a good account of the raga and his earlier exposition of Surutti was also good. The Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Upacharamulanu,’ was well rendered with modulation. The niraval and swaraprastharam at ‘Kapata Nataka Sutradhari’ were rushed through, which could have been avoided with proper time management.

With the short time available Sumesh Narayanan presented a good thani. Earlier right from the varnam, for which he played anticipatory strokes, and for ‘Angarakam, in tune with the sahitya, the mridangam vidwan gave excellent support.

An afterthought: Is it not more important to learn perfectionism from the Gurus than learn their mannerisms? The latter comes effortlessly, perhaps!

Vivek Thyagarajan did not waste even a single minute in between songs in his one-hour concert for Chennai Cultural Academy Trust. He opened his concert with Tyagaraja’s ‘Sri Kanta Niyeda’ in Bhavapriya, with a few rounds of kalpanaswaram, a “matter of fact” rendition of both. Good voice and long tutelage alone are not sufficient for one to ascend the concert platform. Sruti suddham and laya suddham are vital. All great composers have put their heart and soul into their compositions. We have no right to distort the words and, through that the meaning. Involvement or swanubhavam is essential, to bring out at least a little bit of the bhava visualised by the composer.

‘Angarakamasrayamyaham,’ Dikshitar’s Navagraha kriti in Surutti, which followed had niraval at ‘Dinarakshakam’ with the words not spaced out correctly, falling at different beats each time, and sruti taking a beating. Had Ambujam Krishna’s ‘Azhaga, Azhaga,’ a beautiful piece in Suddha Danyasi, been rendered with azhagu, it could have been enjoyable. Gopalakrishna Bharati’s ‘Innamum Sandegapadalamo’ in Kiravani was preceded by raga rendition with good voice modulation, which could have been extended to the song rendition also.

Again the niraval and swaram at ‘Ponnambalandanil,’ was not enjoyable due to two reasons; instead of starting ‘Ponnambalandanil’ or ‘ambalandanil,’ the singer insisted on singing ‘balandanil’ and in the kalpanaswaram, invariably, the ending did not fall at the eduppu. The concert ended with ‘Karpuram Narumo’ in Khamas.

The violinist Kaushik Sivaramakrishnan’s version of Kiravani shone at a few places and the tone of the violin was good; otherwise he was totally at a loss. The mridangam player B. Sivaraman had a tough time adjusting and he had very little time for thani.