Rajee Gopalakrishnan's concert combined melody and erudition. Despite the torrential rainfall, over a hundred rasikas attended her concert.

Even as torrential rain lashed the city on Tuesday evening, the performers wouldn't have expected a reasonable turn-out. But braving the inclement weather, over a hundred ardent rasikas made it to Rajee Gopalakrishnan's concert that combined melody and erudition.

One rasika who stayed till the very end, was seen humming Kalyana Vasantham, the raga she took up for her elaborate Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi. Little wonder that she won the Music Academy's Gold Medal for rendering the best Ragam Tanam Pallavi in 2002-2003.

While the raga certainly evokes bhakti, it also stirs up subtle melancholy. In the alapana, she highlighted every sangati with scholarly control, bringing out every shade of this royal raga. Tanam was rendered with mridangam accompaniment in two kalas, reminding one of the Navarathri Mantapam in Thiruvananthapuram, where mridangam always accompanies tanam.

The sahitya she chose was ‘Kalavathi Dayanidhi Neeye Gathi. Kalyanavasanthapriye,' set to Khandajati Triputa Tala. She rendered it in trikala and tisram, a hard task indeed; yet, effortlessly handled it. Kalpanaswaras were in ragamalika. The switch-over to Mohana Kalyani was exceptionally musical.

The violin artist Usha Rajagopalan proved that she is ‘numero uno' in her chosen field, especially in RTP. Her responses were spontaneously original. The thani avartanam by B. Ganapathiraman on the mridangam and Madippakkam A. Murali on the ghatam was sweet and short. It was a combination of rhythmic intricacies and aesthetics. Ganapathiraman has an admirable technique that embellishes music. His muththaippu (concluding phrase) in every song received well-deserved appreciation from the main artist. There was musical variety in every Muththaaippu, which was a sheer delight. His accompaniment too, is a great asset to any vocalist.

The Shanmughapriya piece of Gopalakrishna Bharathi, ‘Bhava Sagaram Karai Eralaam' was brilliantly rendered with a strong element of devotion. However, for that short song, both the raga alapana and kalpanaswaras were a bit too lengthy. The well executed niraval and swaras were at ‘Bhakti Pannippadi Balakrishnan.'

Saint Tyagaraja is believed to have visited Tirumala where he sang the two famous kritis, ‘Thera Theeyaga radha'' in Gowlipanthu and ‘Venkatesa'' in Madhyamavathi. Rajee rendered the latter with aplomb. The raga alapana, which was delicately woven, could have been shorter, especially when she didn't choose to have niraval or swaraprastaras.

The ardent Ramabhaktha, Tyagaraja's immortal Pantuvarali kriti on Lord Siva, ‘Siva Siva Enaraadhaa,' was sung with splendid majesty that the raga evokes. The swaras swayed harmoniously in all three octaves. Of the thirteen pieces that Rajee rendered, the sweetest indeed was Papanasam Sivan's Sahana kriti, ‘Chiththam Irangaathathaenayyaa,' in Misra Chaappu. Sahana has that captivating charm.

The three-hour concert which began with Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar's Mohana Varnam, concluded with ‘Manasa Sanchararae' and ‘Narahari Deva Janaardhanaa'. Rajee did not fail to thank the rasikas for having made it, in spite of the heavy downpour.

(ramakrishnan.h@gmail.com)