Suguna Vardachari's melodious voice and appropriate modulations maintained the concert tempo throughout.Charukesi
Vidushi Suguna Varadachari's morning concert had two significant messages: one, without frills or gimmicks one can give the best and two, with madhyamakala rendering, the performance gains dignified stance.
Suguna Varadachari's opening piece was ‘Samukhamu,' a varnam by Thanjavur Vadivelu (Nata) with cascading swaraprastaras adding to its beauty. Being the second day of Margazhi, she chose ‘Vaiyathu Vaazhveerghaal,' from Andal Paasuram, before rendering ‘Seethapathe,' the Khamas kirtanai of Tyagaraja.
There was niraval at ‘Prema Joopi Na Pai' followed by swarakalpanas, which were brisk. What sustained the kutcheri throughout was the vocalist's melodious voice, with appropriate modulation enhancing the quality of presentation. It was a scintillating alapana of Pantuvarali (Kasi Ramakriya in Dikshitar parlance) that preceded ‘Sri Sundararajam Bajeham,' on Sri Sundararajar in Azhagarkoil, near Madurai. Niraval and swarakalpanas for this kriti were eschewed; perhaps the artist had thought that she had done enough justice to the raga in her elaborate alapana, covering from the periphery to the core point. The madhyamakala rendition of the song had a telling effect, as the vocalist carried the rasika with her while unfolding the passages in a measured pace. Grand was the kirtana and so was its rendition. (the advantage of having a disciple sitting behind was visible when the guru was not close enough to the mike, and the disciple gently nudged!)
Suguna Varadachari's Thodi encompassed the richness and the beauty of the majestic raga, when she embarked upon the alapana. The vocalist's voice had both the melody and the strength to make the rendering enjoyable.
She had an appreciative nod for the violinist V.L. Kumar for his version not only at the end, but also when there were occasional flourishes in his play. The kriti ‘Sri Venkatesam Varam Chintayam Bhavaharam' was a composition of Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar, and it has not been often heard in the concert circuit these days. The niraval at ‘Marajanakam' and the swarakalpana was a sumptuous treat.
The percussion support by Mannarkoil Balaji was very appropriate in tonal quality, as he played intelligently without being dominant. In fact it was soothing in places and the ghatam by G. Ravichandran too was adequate. Their thani after swaraprastara for Thodi was notable for its pleasing quality.
Then came the crowing piece of the concert – Ragam, Thanam, Pallavi in Kedaragowla and Saveri (Thisra Jampa). Completing the Kedaragowla alapana, Suguna Varadachari announced why she chose a pair of ragas for pallavi. The pallavi was ‘Sri Rajagopala Samikku Sari Evare' which had a combination of two ragas, picked from two different kritis. Saveri for the phrase ‘Sri Rajagopala' and Kedaragowla for the succeeding phrase ‘Samikku Sari Evare.' The vocalist virtually rode on two horses. She had to sing the first phrase in Saveri and immediately switch over to Kedaragowla for the next. All the same, being the experienced guru that she is, she did it admirably. Suguna Varadachari concluded her recital with ‘Kannanai Pani Maname' and a Javali ‘Vegamaaga Varacholladi' of Suguna Purushothaman.