Concert Swetha Prasad is blessed with a fine voice; better diction would help her.
Acultured voice with a range and reach is one redeeming feature among Carnatic music singers these days, while other pre-requisites are relegated to the background. So it was with Swetha Prasad. Her recent recital for Kalasagaram monthly concert series at Keyes High School showcased her as a singer with a fine tone and tenor, fairly at ease with her rendition, adhering to the rhythm and beat (tala) with a pleasing output.
She displayed the modulation required to convey the emotional content of a composition but the diction was the main drawback for its lack of clarity. If we knew the kriti, it was easy to discern the lines and sail along with the melody but otherwise, her diction proved an impediment.
Depth singing is the sine-qua-non of classicality and Swetha, though grounded, took flights of fancy in rounding off a kriti or a charanam in her ‘innovative’ manner. Alapana (barring the Mohana) seemed her Achilles heel as the raga did not rise to its heights nor expose its nuances and sounded like a mere opening note for most part (eg. Hamsanaada/Bouli). With the dais so close to the audience, the artiste should maintain discretion in eyeing the copy of the lyric (and the improvisations!) while rendering.She sailed along well with her full-throated rendition.
If she could work on her diction (the clarity should be such that a listener should be able to take down the lyric word by word) especially as she meanders through the sangathis (the nuances were not felt either except in a few kritis).
Classical concert ought to be one steady flow from beginning to end, sans fluctuations of any sort. Here, the varnam in Natakurinji ( Chelamela ) and the Nata ragam ( Swaminatha paripalaya sumam ) that followed were of a calibre worth the name, not to talk of the ‘akaaram’ drag at the end of each of these pieces which was not warranted. The same was true of the centrepiece in Mohana maati maatiki telpavalena … where we had to strain our ears to catch the rest of the lyric but her swarakalpana at this juncture was impressive. Th
e same cannot be said of the improvisation at mahimo … in Vasantha ( Etla dorikitivo ) or for that matter the slight lack of clarity in the sangathees for the bouli ( Darishinamayenu ). The viruttam which preceded the Sindhubhairavi was pronounced and the Annamacharya keertana in Sanskrit Sakalam hey sakhi … flowed smooth.
Renuka Prasad on mridangam, Saikumar on violin and Shyam Kumar on kanjira were a fitting accompaniment to the vocalist.