Malleable voices, heavy ragas and oft-heard kritis were the highlights of these performances …
Brinda Manickavasakam has a malleable voice which doesn't touch extremes but moves with fluidity in the middle registers. Her concert showcased Sankarabharanam, Hindolam and Poorvikalyani in detail. Her raga expositions were done on slow and steady mode without resorting to vocal aerobics. ‘Rama Srirama', a lesser heard Tyagaraja composition was her choice in Sankarabharanam and Sivan's ‘Ma Ramanan' in Hindolam. ‘Parama Pavana Rama' in Poorvikalyani was given the prime slot with a tad slow and lengthy niraval-swara at ‘Kanamabhara.'
Nevertheless, one could not but feet a sense of flatness throughout the concert but for a brisk interlude of ‘Thaye Tripurasundari' in Suddha Saveri. The reason being that Brinda presented every item in a laid back fashion. Knowledge is one thing but creating a better impact with the audience by alternating slow and fast kritis is another. K.J. Dileep on the violin played with spirit and the usual sprinting phrases for ragas. Srivanchiam Sriram on the mridangam kept the percussion front alive with commitment.
Vidya Kalyanaraman knows how to exploit the zing in her voice. So her concert had enough verve right from ‘Sarasijanaba,' the Nattai varnam. The swara tracks on the Aboghi composition, ‘Srilakshmi Varaham,' and Malyamarutham kriti ‘Manasa Etulo' with niraval, offered good impetus. The Begada raga alapana for ‘Kadaikkan Vaithennai' was testimony to Vidya's vision of music.
Do ragas also have compatibility problems? Perhaps, a solemn Varali and a vivacious Mohanam could not integrate well in Vidya's pairing for a RTP in Kanda Jathi Triputa Talam. They did not blend seamlessly, notwithstanding the vocalist's expertise. A clear-cut RTP in a single ragam is always a safe bet.
Violinist Srilakshmi Venkataramani exhibited good camaraderie with the vocalist while Arjun Ganesh was active on the percussion with prickly beats.
Ramya Kannan's robust voice may be an asset but her deliverance was more tutored than inspired. Her raga essays of Natakurunji (‘Mamavasatha Varade'), Ritigowla (‘Guruvayoor Appane') and Kalyani (‘Etavunara') sounded more rehearsed than spontaneous. Kalyani was a shade better; swarakalpanas also went on the same lines. Her kriti renditions were systematic without flaws, however. On the violin, G. Suresh Kumar was disappointing with several trepidations. Nellai Srikrishnan on the mridangam was better equipped.
If one overlooks the slight nasal intonation, N. Harish acquitted himself well as a promising singer with a sound (both literally and figuratively) performance. Dhanyasi, Hemavati and Khambodi were his choices. He packed his alapana with good phrases, yet ragas such as Dhanyasi and Hemavati could hardly be sated with running motifs. Absence of reposeful segments was significant. ‘Meenalochani Brova' with good niraval and swaras on ‘Kaamapaalini Bhavani,' the fast paced ‘Nenarunchara' (Simhavahini) with fiery swaras, a soft ‘Sri Kantimatim' in Hemavati and exhaustive ‘Evarimata' in Khambodi constituted Harish's repertoire. Roopa Rajagopal was striking on the violin with her smart fingering and bowing smoothly matching the style of presentation of the vocalist. K Swaminathan provided neat percussion padding on mridangam.
With her light and sweet voice, V. Deepika framed her concert with professional grace. With two kalams of Aboghi varnam, ‘Jooda Murare' in Arabhi and ‘Chandrasekaram' in Marga Hindolam, she set for Hamir Kalyani treatise. It was a hybrid of Hindustani and Carnatic styles, followed by ‘Gangeya Vasana' (Swati Tirunal). The main raga, Thodi, showed Deepika's ingenuity in developing the raga through pithy phrases; yet, they were fast flights with minimum forays to touch the core. ‘Emi Jesithenami' was bright with engaging niraval on ‘Kama Moha Dasulai' and fetchingly structured swaras galloping towards a fine korvai. S.P. Anathanpadmanabhan was a perfect foil to Deepika in raga treatises and swara parts. A.V. Manikandan on the mridangam fared well with a shrewd eye on the rhythm.