Vijay Siva offered a mixed musical bag

Vijay Siva’s alapanas were soothing and sublime, but acoustics played spoilsport

January 19, 2023 04:43 pm | Updated 04:43 pm IST

Vijay Siva performing at the Indian Fine Arts Society in Chennai, December 2022.

Vijay Siva performing at the Indian Fine Arts Society in Chennai, December 2022. | Photo Credit: RAGHUNATHAN SR

A purposeful career, shaped by good musical values and a sharply defined style, steered Vijay Siva’s concert to a satisfactory finale at the Indian Fine Arts Society. The concert had mixed moments, also attributable to some poor acoustics and audio balance.

The opening pieces lacked conviction as Vijay Siva attempted kritis such as ‘Thera theeyaga rada’ (Gowlipantu, Tyagaraja) and ‘Ikanaina’ (Pushpalatika, Tirupathi Narayanaswami). The niraval at ‘Akalanga neeve’ seemed too hyperactive. Only the Sankarabharanam raga alapana stabilised the first chapter and brought the needed tranquillity.

Very few vocalists can stay within the pleasing arc and with conventional sangathis and jeeva swaras. Vijay Siva has chiselled his music in that path and his alapana was endearing and sublime. Violinist Shriram Kumar’s Sankarabharanam was also tradition-bound. ‘Bagumeera kanu natho’ (Rupakam, Veena Kuppaiyer) had a steady madhyama kala gait and Vijay’s niraval at ‘Nilavanyamu’ was pleasant.

Kriti choices do influence the concert effect, and one may have expected a more mainstream weighty kriti on the day.

Vijay Siva’s central piece was ‘Nannu brovu lalitha’ in viloma chapu by Syama Sastri.

Vijay Siva performing at Indian Fine Arts Society in December 2022. He is accompanied by Trichy Sankaran, K.V. Gopalakrishnan and R.K. Shriram Kumar.

Vijay Siva performing at Indian Fine Arts Society in December 2022. He is accompanied by Trichy Sankaran, K.V. Gopalakrishnan and R.K. Shriram Kumar. | Photo Credit: RAGHUNATHAN S.R.

With a preamble to the soothing alapana from both the vocalist and the violinist, the kriti flowed like a stream, with the swaras at ‘Ninnu vina’ ending with a pregnant pause. These aspects moved the concert up to Vijay Siva’s standard, riding on the special allure of viloma chapu.

Trichy Sankaran and K.V. Gopalakrishnan (kanjira) articulated the distinct effects of chapu and the karvai spaces in the kriti with expertise.

The Kiravani raga alapana by Vijay Siva had a good mix of lower and higher octave singing, bringing out its sweetness. Shriram Kumar’s version was also detailed, but was marred a little at the tara sthayi due to misamplification of the audio system.

‘Jayathu gokula vasa’ in Adi 2 kalai (Purandaradasa), though not commonly heard, has an engaging structure and lyrics, and Vijay Siva used it well. The niraval and swaras at ‘jayathu sri bhuloka’ filled in well too.

After a charming virutham on Rama in Shanmukhapriya, Ahiri and Abheri, Vijay Siva sprang a surprise by singing one of his guru’s top picks, ‘Bhajare re manasa’ in Abheri (Mysore Vasudevachar) in the tail spot. That helped him maintain the high of the second half, rounded off with a super-melodious ‘Ninnai charanadainthen’ (Subramanya Bharati) in Yamuna Kalyani. The concert concluded better than what it looked like it would.

The acoustics blared up the music beyond the realm of sensitive listening at various stages. Trichy Sankaran’s mridangam accompaniment was clever and song-aligned. Musicians should surely demand a more conducive audio environment at venues they perform in — in this case, Ethiraj Kalyana Mandapam.

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