Niranjana and Rahul Narayanan showed promise at Bharat Kalachar.

A powerful voice with an extensive range is a gift; but utilising it to the advantage is wisdom. Niranjana Srinivasan seems to prefer the art of exploiting the voice range with a considerable level of exuberance.

In her concert at the Yuva Utsav of Bharat Kalachar, Syama Sastri’s Begada varnam was the refreshing opening piece. Niranjana selected a few exotic ragas such as Chandrajyothi (‘Sasi vadana baktha jana’ of Tyagaraja) and launched Nalinakanthi (‘Easane koti soorya prakasane’ by Muthuthandavar) for detailing. With the ringing voice in her favour, Niranjana manoeuvred the raga with great ease and energy. A sedate Gopikavasantham (‘Balakrishnam bhavayami’ of Dikshitar) was balanced by a brisk Hamsanadam (‘Bantu reethi’ of Tyagaraja).

Srinivasan’s kalpanaswaras skip from quickfire to haywire. The segments of Chandrajyothi and the niraval appended with swaras in Hamsanadam were admirable to a point. When it crossed the boundaries of limits, the breakneck speed and the abominable length made them sound more like a pack of syllables than an exquisite ornament.

Plethora of phrases

The main raga was Abheri and Niranjana’s choice here went for Vasudevachar’s famous ‘Bhajare manasa.’ The raga vinyasa offered her enough scope to explore a plethora of phrases mostly in the upper registers where of course she came unscathed. Nevertheless, greater attention to distribute the sancharas judiciously in all the ranges is bound to give better structure and stature to the raga image.

The swaras pivoting on shadjam here were enjoyable and more cohesive than the earlier exercises. The conclusion came with a Chandrakauns composition, ‘Nayaki nee’ of Sathur Karpagam.

Niranjana was supported on the violin by V. Suresh Babu and on the mridangam by R. Mohanakrishnan. Suresh Babu exchanged equally boisterous sessions in his raga and swaras to match Niranjana’s. Mohanakrishnan rhythm had power but sounded but little desiccated.

With a voice encrusted with sweet masculinity and volume, Rahul Narayanan impressively opened his concert with the rare varnam ‘Neeve gati yani’ in Kalyani set to chatusra matya talam by Syama Sastri.

Rahul Narayanan

The varnam was characteristic of this composer with finely etched swaras and a sahityam for the chittaswaram bringing back the charanam to pallavi.

Rahul’s expansive treatises of Pantuvarali, Dhanyasi and Karaharapriya were testimonies of this young singer’s creativity in developing a raga. The expressions were not hurried or hapazhard but redolent with melody carefully complimented with brigas at the right places. A musician’s vision could be established only in raga exposes and swara sessions and Rahul could acquit himself quite commendably in this arenas.

In Pantuvarali it was ‘Visalakshi visveshi’ of Dikshitar and he went for niraval and swaras at ‘Kasi rajnim kapalinim.’ Dhanyasi raga was followed with ‘Talichanavaru dhanyu’ of Subbaraya Sastri. Karaharapriya was started (surprisingly) hesitantly but gathered full momentum as the raga progressed. Here and in the earlier raga essays, Rahul Narayanan added freshness to his presentation with inspiringly stretched out phrases; but, in swara parts, while one can appreciate his combing spirit he can very well eschew certain ungainful extrapolations.

‘Rama nee samanamevaru’ of Tyagaraja was undoubtedly a worthy selection in Kharaharapriya. The niraval and swaras at ‘Paluku paluku’ could have received a better space provided Rahul had managed his time well earlier. Time management is definitely an aspect this promising vocalist has to improve upon. ‘Pahimam sriraja rajeswari’ in Janaranjani and the Khamas tillana were other items in this 90-minute concert.

Srividhya R.S. Aiyar was bright in some places and just adequate in certain segments. Nevertheless, she gave a good account of herself in the raga essays. Ammangudi Ramanarayanan was faithful in his percussion support on mridangam.