Aswathi Tirunal Rama Varma’s recital highlighted the understanding between the vocalist and the accompanists that makes a concert memorable.
In a vocal concert of classical music, the vocalist reigns supreme and enjoys the rare privilege of being the performer and director of the show. But at the same time, the concert is a collective effort involving accompanists whose roles extend beyond mere support to the vocalist. Not only do they embellish the vocal rendition, but also motivate the singer to give his best
In a gesture of reciprocity, the vocalist also inspires his accompanists to draw the best from them. In short, it is the mutual understanding and healthy interaction between the vocalists and the accompanists that makes a concert successful.
Aswathi Tirunal Rama Varma’s two-hour vocal concert in Thrissur recently will be remembered for the above mentioned features. His uncanny knack for melodic niceties apart, Rama Varma also displayed his regard for the audience by communicating with them through select compositions that were enhanced by short descriptions of the piece.
Flair for swara prasthara
‘Ninnu kori,’ the Adi tala varnam in Mohanam, an ever-green composition of Ramanathapuram Srinivasa Iyengar, with which he opened the concert, created the right ambience for the show.
As he entered into ‘Sidhdhivinayakam anisam,’ Dikshitar’s composition in Shanmughapriya in Roopaka tala, his flair for swara prasthara was evident. There was a flurry of kalpana swaras and the laya he could build up along with the support from the instruments was remarkable. He pointed out that the raga was known as ‘Chamaram’ in the Dikshitar School.
Rama Varma chose a rare composition for Natta – ‘Rakshamam Sharanagatham’ in Adi, a composition of Meenakshisuthan, a ‘vaggeyakara’ from Karnataka. He explained that the composition had been tuned by Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar. It was but natural that the alapana had certain inflections characteristic of the veena, of which he is an accomplished artiste.
Saveri raga received a neat alapana for the Purandaradasa composition in misra chapu – ‘Barayya venkataramana.’ Interestingly, the composition was on the Dasavatharas, each line describing one incarnation. Buddha appears towards the last, before Kalki. Aesthetically rich phrases were woven in an impressive way in the alapana of the raga Hamirkalyani, which he took for elaboration. The number was the much sought-after among Swati Tirunal’s Hindustani compositions – ‘Gangeya vasnadhara padmanabha’ – in praise of the Lord.
While Edappally Ajithkumar faithfully repeated the raga on the violin, during the swara part, the percussion chose to do an avartanam, thereby adding an extra grace to the rendition.
Incidentally, the percussion support with Changanassery Harikumar on the mridangam, Perukavu Sudheer on the ghatom and Payyannur Govindaprasad on the morsing contributed in no small measure for augmenting the melodic appeal of the chouka kala composition. A short folksy number in Punnagavarali was then followed by the popular Irayimman Thampi composition, ‘Karuna Cheyvanenthu thaamasam Krishna,’ tuned by Chembai Bhagavathar in Yadukulakamboji.
The musician wound up with a tillana in Kuntalavarali that spoke for his acute sense of rhythm. The chollus were so crisp that one felt the unseen presence of a dance performance nearby. The concert was presented under the aegis of Agni Cultural Academy, Annamanada, as part of the launch of the organisation’s branch in Thrissur.