S. Shankar’s concert was evocative and rich with emotion

The Rama Navami celebrations at the Sri Rama Temple, Vyalikaval, organised by the Vyalikaval Extension Association, included a vocal recital by S. Shankar, accompanied by B. Raghuram (violin), N. Vasudeva (mridanga), M. Gururaj (morsing), and S. Ramani (vocal support).

The concert began with a medium pace rendition of the Kanada raga varna “Varanasyam Pranamamyaham” in adi thala, composed by Mysore Vasudevacharya. A lilting sketch of Bahudhari raga and the Thyagaraja krithi “Brova Bharama Raghurama” in adi thala followed. A compact, yet gamaka infused and weighty alapana of Bhairavi prefaced “Kamakshi”, Shyama Shastri’s magnificent swarajathi in mishra chapu thala. The composition, presented here in a slightly accelerated pace without detriment to its majestic gait and grandeur, was accentuated by vibrant percussion. The sahithya beginning “Shyamakrishna Sahodari” was taken up for a short neraval and kalpana swaras in two speeds. A striking contrast was effected with a brief but evocative and bhava-laden elaboration of Hamsanandi, suffixed with “Raghuvira Ranadhira” in rupaka thala, an exquisite piece composed by Y.K.Srikantayya.

 The sweetness of Abheri was next encapsulated in a succinct raga prelude and in the beautiful rendition of Mysore Vasudevacharya’s  “Bhajare Re Manasa Sri Raghu Veeram” set to adi thala. A swift “Anupama Gunambudhi” in Athana raga and khanda chapu thala led to the main raga of the evening, Simhendramadhyamam. The elaboration was of moderate length, replete with fine touches and attractive phrases. Beginning with mellow explorations of the mandra sthayi, the exercise ran the entire gamut of the scale, illumining its distinct and intrinsic allure. Swathi Thirunal’s “Rama Rama Gunaseema” in adi thala, sung in a lively tempo, was ornamented with an energetic, spontaneous and variegated neraval at the charana line beginning “Muni Maanasa Dhaama”. The ensuing kalpana swaras in two speeds included a spate of diminishing thala cycles landing at the panchama, incorporating diverse rhythmic combinations, augmented by exemplary violin accompaniment, and expert percussion support that culminated in a fairly elaborate thani avarthana.  

The concert concluded with Muthuswami Deekshithar’s “Rangapura Vihara” in Vrindavanasaranga and the ragamalika, Swathi Thirunal’s “Bhavayami Raghuramam” set to rupaka thala. While the acoustics at the venue left much to be desired, resulting in some muffled and muted passages, the performance was a true example of the lead artiste’s melodious and full-throated style, varied repertoire, technical skill and meticulous adherence to the core tenets of the idiom, and of the expertise and experience of the accompanists.