REVIEW Prince Rama Varma's veena recital and K. Gayatri's vocal recital were musical treats
T he Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira, Bangalore, hosted a veena concert, billed as ‘Musical Welcome to the New Year', by Prince Rama Varma, accompanied by Bangalore V. Praveen (mridanga) and G. Omkar Rao (ghata).
“Ninnu Kori”, the aditala varna in Mohanam established the tone and tenor of the concert, an exercise in mellow mellifluousness founded on a firm bedrock of technical virtuosity and staunch classicism. Muthuswami Deekshithar's “Siddhivinayakam” in Shanmukhapriya was presented next with a few rounds of kalpana swaras that juxtaposed the subtle interplay of laya combinations with the haunting overtones of the raga. “Manavyalakincharadate”, the aditala Thyagaraja krithi in Nalinakanthi was rendered next, in an unusually sedate tempo that effectively illumined the lilting melody of the scale.
The artiste then elucidated the structure of the raga Rohini, a creation of Dr. Balamuralikrishna, as a panchama varjya raga similar to Hamsanandi, but with the explicit use of an additional note, the shuddha madhyama.
The impact of the brief alapana, the composition in mishra chapu tala and the kalpana swaras that followed, was unearthly and exotic. Purandaradasa's “Alli Nodalu Rama” in Nattakurinji led to the main raga of the evening, Keeravani. A compact alapana was succeeded by a ragamalika thana that included a lustrous Shahana and a brilliant Behag. Swathi Tirunal's “Bhavaye Sarasanabham” set to aditala was rounded off with a modicum of kalpana swaras, though a few skeins of neraval woven into the item would have enriched it further. Percussion support throughout the recital was exemplary.
Vocalist K. Gayathri, ably accompanied by B.K. Raghu (violin) and C. Cheluvaraju (mridanga), presented the inaugural concert of the Sankranthi Music Festival – 2011 organised by the Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandira in association with Neelambari.
An energetic rendition of “Neranammithi”, the atta tala varna in Kanada was followed by “Sri Jalandharam” in Gambhiranatta, bedecked with fluent kalpana swaras. Panthuvarali was taken up for a succinct, well-contoured alapana, followed by Thyagaraja's “Appa Rama Bhakthiyentho” supplemented with a neraval and kalpana swaras at “Kapi Varidhi Datuna”. A tranquil “Brovavamma” in Manji raga and mishra chapu tala, and a swift “Bhogeendrashayinam” in Kunthalavarali and khanda chapu, followed in quick succession.
Kamboji was elaborated in meticulous and leisurely fashion, incorporating a series of nuanced phrases interspersed with intricate bhriga oriented ones, traversing the three octaves effortlessly. Deekshithar's “Sri Subrahmanyaya Namasthe” was presented in a tempo commensurate with the gravity of the composition, embellished with a comprehensive neraval and kalpana swaras at “Vasavadi Sakaladeva Vandithaya”, and succeeded by a tani avarthana. The sweetness of Sriranjini, evident in the alapana and the ensuing thana, coalesced with the complexity of the pallavi beginning “Devi Umadevi”, set to khanda jathi triputa tala with the laghu in chathurasra gathi and the druthams in khanda gathi, bearing testimony to the artiste's improvisational and technical prowess.
The concert was also remarkable for the richness and flexibility of the artiste's voice, best highlighted in full throated articulation rather than in the occasional, highly modulated phrases, and for the emphasis on, and clear enunciation of sahithya.