Lakshmi Rajagopalan's vocal concert at SICA's foundation day was a treat.
The first thing that strikes one is Lakshmi Rajagopalan's strong powerful voice. She is blessed with clear tone that for most part becomes an asset in a concert but can also go off the sruti at times.
The varnam in Thodi (Yera naa pai neekintha chowka) opened on an optimistic note giving way to the Hamsadhwani invocation to Lord Vinayaka ninu vina brochutaku both had the tone and tenor of a confident musician with a genial temperament (the vocalist was visibly at ease with her medium and seemed to enjoy as she sang which can be quite infectious).
Then came Manoharam pranamami Maheswaram in KalyanVasantham, a more or less straight rendition with a crisp alapana sans embellishments. Violinist Dinakar gave a wonderful follow to the alapana, delineating the Panthuvarali (Ramuni varame) a Thyagaraja kriti which was not all that catchy though the singer spiced it with optimum ingredients to present a tasty dish. A Purandhara dasa keertana Narayana … in Shuddha Dhanyasi took off well enough but Maa yamma yani ne pilachithe in the beautiful Ahiri (Thodi janyam) was wanting in yearning tone which is the crux of many a Shyama Sastri kriti despite virtuosity. Shobillu Saptaswara Thyagaraja's eulogy to music in Jaganmohini in drutha kalai was like a march past shorn off all its intensity and gravity.
After an emotive invocation to Kanchi Paramacharya Chandrasekhara Saraswati sharanam in Hindolam, Lakshmi's rendition of the Tamil song lauding the acharyas of Kamakoti Peetham made an impression on the audience. The centrepiece in Khambhoji was the famous Deekshitar kriti Sri Subramanya namasthe where the neraval at Vaasa vaadi sakala went for a minor slip as did the violinist too during very first attempt at swarakalpana.
Lakshmi seemed adept at technicalities which flowed with good command over the kriti being handled. The tani and the dual play between the mridangam (P. Srinivasa Gopalan) and ghatam (Janardhan) was a pleasure to watch. In fact they played longer over the percussion than the vocalist over her manodharma! The laya vinayasam was exciting even as it was enriching.
The ragamalika (Neelambari-Kamas, etc) and the Sindhubhairavi moved towards the wrap up of South Indian Cultural Association's Foundation Day concert at Ravindra Bharathi.