It was nectar that Vasundhara Rajagopal offered.
There could hardly be a music recital without pride of place for Saint Tyagaraja's song(s). Carnatic music owes its present stature to that unmatched composer. I have often wondered why he chose to set the daring piece ‘Ramabana' in Saveri, which is a melodious and soft flowing raga. The predominant mood that it creates is karuna rasa, compassion or mercy. In this kriti, the saint wonders how he could describe the heroism and valour of Ramabana.
Vasundhara Rajagopal brought out the intense brilliance and the heavy classicism of this masterpiece of Tyagaraja. This critic was reminded of D.K. Jayaraman, who always excelled in the interpretation of this kriti. Vasundhara's unrestrained delineation was nectar. There was no sanchara of Saveri that she left untouched. She could, thanks to her sweet and well trained voice, traverse with effortless ease, between the mantra and tara sthayis. The response of Padma Shankar on the violin was equally mellifluous and she too elicited the raga's aesthetics.
DKJ's favourite niraval point is the charanam, ‘Thammudupadalina' at samam. Vasundhara chose ‘Souryam Emani Pokatuthura' for niraval and swara. In this atheetha eduppu, that is, two mathrais before the tala, she proved her total control over laya and it spoke volumes of the expert guidance of T.R. Subramaniam. Mannarkoil J. Balaji on the mridangam and N. Rajaraman on the ghatam rose to the occasion in providing total support in the niraval and swaras. Their thani avarthanam, especially the tisra nadai elaboration, was perfect and pitched right on the eduppu. Another aspect of Vasundhara's performance that was exceptional was the ease with which she elaborated Janaranjani and Vachaspati. She was extremely comfortable in the serene alapanas, bereft of hollow showmanship. Her grasp of the alapana technique deserves appreciation and admiration. In the former, she rendered ‘Nannu Brova Rada' of Syama Sastri and in the latter, Patnam Subramania Iyer's ‘Ennadi Ni Kripa.' She produced several melodious sancharas in Vachaspati, a favourite of M.S. Subbulakshmi.
The Pantuvarali varnam of Shatkaala Narasayya provided a breezy opening for this pleasant morning concert. Vasundhara chose Papanasam Sivan's Sahana piece ‘Sri Vathapi Ganapathiye' to invoke Vinayaka. These days it is not often that one gets to listen to this wonderful kriti that has all the soft, elastic touches of the pleasing raga.