Kotapalli Vandana, Vrinda Acharya and K.J. Nandini lent freshness to their recitals

Kottapalli Vandana from Tirupati presented a vocal recital on the first day of the three-day thematic concert fest organised by Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha at the Music Academy Mini Hall. She was accompanied by K.V. Krishna (Tirupati) on the violin and K. Sasi Giridhar on the mridangam.

The compositions of Bhadrachala Ramadas, Toomu Narasimhadasa and Sadasiva Brahmendra formed part of the repertoire.

The songs of these composers are often used as space fillers or are presented at the tail-end of a concert. Presenting a full-fledged programme with such songs as the mainstay has its limitations and yet offered something special.

Vandana introduced a few kritis of Toomu Narasimhadasa's, who pursued the footsteps of Bhadrachala Ramadas in serving the presiding deity of Bhadrachalam and whose compositions do not find a prominent place on concert platforms. The opening item was ‘Jaya Janaki Ramana' in Nattai of Narasimhadas which was followed by ‘Sri Ramula Divyanama' in Saveri by Ramadas and ‘Kelathi Mamahrudaye' in Atana by Sadasiva Brahmendra.

Vandana has a syrupy voice that is supported by clear articulation. Her essays in Hindolam, Bhairavi and Varali established her ability to bring out the quintessence of the ragas. She indulged in swara exercises selectively, which were neatly formatted. Her Hindolam (‘Bhajare Gopalam') carried many nuances, Bhairavi (‘Doravana Gooru Chunnadu') showcased its stateliness and Varali (‘Ento Mahanubhavudavu), a tad hasty and falling a little short of expectations. Krishna's bowing and fingering on the violin was backed by confidence and his delicate touches in the lower regions of Bhairavi were noteworthy. Sai Giridhar was an affable percussionist.

Prayerful mood

Vrinda Acharya from Bengaluru with a sharp soprano voice presented Purandaradasa kritis on the second day. She provided a brief introduction to the kritis she sung, mentioning the contents and the mood. The Ganesha vandanam ‘Sharanu Belagane' in Bilahari with chittaswaram and swaras set the pace. Purandaradasa's moving prayers for salvation came in ‘Enu Maditheruanu' in Hindolam where Vrinda mentioned the dwithiyakshara prasam running throughout the kriti. Malayamarutham preceded Dasa's ‘Smarane Onde Salare' with several strands of swaras, neatly composed in the end. A sedate ‘Kandu Kandu Nee' in Sahana was balanced by a sprightly item in Vasantha. Sankarabharanam, the centre piece, was elaborated with diligence for ‘Pogadiraelo Ranga' with niraval and swaras in ‘Suramunigalu Tamma Hrudaya Varadalli.' Vrinda's raga treatise for Malayamaruthum was better than the main Sankarabharanam. The leitmotifs exhibited the ragas' speciality with moderate embellishments. Prema Vivek on the violin projected control and credibility. Her raga alapanas were remarkable for their sincere, straight and soft approach keeping an eye on melody. Mannargudi N. Subramanian on the mridangam maintained his beats at the right decibel level.

Intelligent planning

K.J. Nandini from Thiruvananthapuram gave a stimulating recital of Maharaja Swati Tirunal's compositions on the last day. With a voice that suits classical music perfectly, she maintained the momentum till the end. A varnam and ‘Paripahi Gana' in Saveri were pacy starters.

Raga essay of Malayamarutham provided good scope for Nandini to interpret her intelligent attitude, with inclusion of good mix of kaarvais and brigas. Precisely, Malayamarutham was breezy. ‘Padmanabha Pahi' was the kriti.

Thodi occupied the main slot with an exhaustive raga portrayal followed by ‘Bharati Mamava' , the magnificent Navaratri kriti of Swati Tirunal. The fine niraval on ‘Dasa Buda Jana Vidya' led to the swaras which were complex and interesting but culminated in a slightly cluttered denouement.

Nandini's good grasp of the raga images and swara matrices is commendable. In fact, the Malayamarutham swaras were brilliant. However, due to over zeal, Thodi turned out a bit tacky towards the end. Well, one can be sure that with experience, Nandini will assert her abilities in a more composed and calculated manner.

Melakaveri K. Thyagarajan on the violin was dignified in his responses. J. Vaidyanathan on the mridangam and Anirudh Athreya on the ganjira handled the rhythm section with agility and their thani was interestingly conceived and presented without being noisy.

The three-day presentation not only showcased promising vocalists but also proved that a concert could be conceived and kept alive with lesser known or not so popular kritis from the rare composers.