The highlight of Visalam Venkatachalam’s performance was the lucid delineation of Panthuvarali raga.
The best phase of Visalam Venkatachalam’s vocal recital at the Palghat Fine Arts Society, Tharekkad, was the lucid delineation of Panthuvarali raga and a moving rendition of Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s kriti, ‘Sri Ramam Ravikulabdhi,’ in Narayanagowla.
The vocalist began the concert with a famous varnam of Swati Tirunal’s ‘Sarasijanabhaninnu’ in Kambodhi. She brought novelty to the piece by singing the first half up to chittaswara, in Misra chaapu tala, and the charanam, in Ada tala.
She followed it with a Malayalam song ‘Ganesa, Vighnangal Agatridum’ in Gambhiranattai, composed by C.S. Krishna Iyer, one of her gurus.
After a brief sketch of Bilahari, she took up the Swati Tirunal kriti ‘Aaradhayaami,’ in Khanda chaapu tala. The raga bhava was well brought out in the kriti rendition and the swaraprastharas at the phrase ‘Thulasi kundha mallika.’
The analytical development of Panthuvarali, stage by stage, interspersed with subtle and imaginative sangathis, revealed her excellent pataanthara. She even attempted Sruthibhedham during the aalapana, by switching over to Sudha Dhanyasi, in between.
The Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Sambho Mahadeva,’ in Rupaka tala was well portrayed, with a graceful niraval at the charanam, ‘Paramadhayakara mrigadhara,’ appended by neatly woven kalpana swaras. Visalam’s sense of sahithya bhava was evident in her poignant interpretation of the Dikshitar kriti in Narayanagowla, in praise of Rama. Having elaborated Panthuvarali in detail, choosing another Prathimadhyama raga Chinthamani, that too as the main raga of the concert, sounded odd.
The thukkada pieces, ‘Kamalanayana,’ a song of Bhadrachala Ramadas in Pakesri, the Thulsidas bhajan ‘Bhajamana Ramacharana’ in Yamunakalyani, and the ragamalika slokam in Behag, Brindavanasaranga, Kalyanavasantham and Pimplas followed by Purandaradasa Devarnama’s ‘Nandathanaya,’ contained sprinklings of aesthetic nuances.
The concert lacked tempo, due to the predominance of chowka kaala kritis and the absence of dhuritha kaala songs. The accompanists, violinist S.R. Rajasree, mridangam artiste Palakkad A. Ganesan and ghatam artiste E.M. Deepu impressed the audience by extending splendid support to the vocalist.