Ashwin’s enunciation — both lyrical and musical — was precise and executed with supreme self-confidence
To describe D.B. Ashwin’s vocal recital at Narada Gana Sabha on Tuesday as a dazzling performance would hardly encapsulate his captivating show. So precise and emphatic was his enunciation of every phrase — lyrical and musical alike. Quite naturally, everything he did was executed with perfect control and supreme self-confidence.
The evidence was there very early in the day when Ashwin commenced the Hamsadhwani varnam ‘Jalajaksha’. The piece was rendered in the slow, medium and fast tempos; a norm in the conventional sense. It was wonderful to listen to somebody sing Dikshitar’s ‘Panchamatanga’ in Malahari as the opening invocation.
In the alapana for Hamsanadam, the raga which his next composition was set in, there was elegance, abundant vigour and a discreet use of variation in volume and tempo.
A Himalayan plunge
Just as you are beginning to wonder if he is overdoing the exposition a bit, he draws the alapana to a close — but only after climbing the Himalayan heights in the upper octave and delving deep into the depths of the lower.
There was no mistaking the song that followed: Tyagaraja’s ‘Bantureeti kolu’ — a complete contrast to the earlier song in Malahari, in every respect.
The ‘neraval’ on ‘Ramanamamane’, was an apt choice and easy to manoeuvre through a racy spell. The improvisation that followed was immaculate and electrifying.
And, when your spirits had been lifted so high, he gently restores the balance with ‘Brovamamma tamasamele,’ Shyama Shastri’s piece in Manji. Lest the atmosphere turn too sober, he gets back to business with a superb rendition of ‘Sevikkavendumayya chidambaram’ in Andolika.
Another major piece taken up was Muttuswami Dikshitar’s ‘Shri Subrahmanyaya namaste’, in Kambhoji. The build-up to the improvisation, in slow, steady phrases, before he pressed on the accelerator, was a marvel in itself.
The final piece, a tillana in Tilang, composed by his grandfather T.K. Rangachari, left you wanting more, while the clock kept ticking away.
Nishanth Chandran on the violin, Sai Giridhar on the mridangam and D.V. Venkatasubramanian on the ghatam would be the envy of any vocalist. Ashwin said so in as many words at the end of Nishanth’s brilliant essay of Kambhoji.