The vocal concert of Vidya Subramaniam at the Tirumalai Tirupathi Devasthanam was interesting as she provided a brief prologue or epilogue to each kriti she rendered highlighting some special aspects of the content in addition to the information on the composer, ragam and talam.
‘Aganitha mahimadputha leela’, the Gowla ragam composition from the Sapataratna Collection of Oothukadu Venkatakavi in Adi talam was the opening item of her concert. The composition was set in the pattern of the Pancharatna kritis with a charanam followed by swara-sahitya suite. Vidya pointed out a few noteworthy aspects of the kriti like the ‘Namo Namasthe’ the refrain after each charanam and also the famous and favourite reference from the composer about the ‘Kalinga Nartana’ of Sri Krishna as ‘Bhujanga
sirasi natanam’ in this kriti.
The second one was a Dikshitar number in ragam (Vadi) Vasanthabhairavi ‘Prasanna Venkateswaram’ in Triputa talam and was embellished with a few rounds of swaras. Following this, Vidya took up the raga interpretation of Ritigowla. The essay she has drawn was imbued with the typical and topical phrases of Ritigowla yet leaving something wanting. Her selection here went in favour of Saint Tyagaraja. ‘Nannu vidachi gala’ and a decent niraval on ‘Baguga nannelu kora’ with swaras lifted the presentation the kriti, as mentioned by Vidya opens with emotional touch and closes with complete surrender with serenity.
‘Naayaganai Nindra’ Andal Tiruppavai in raga Durbar was the filler before her launch to expand Kalyani. Subramaniam’s forays in the raga exercise were energetic than aesthetic. It was done more professionally than passionately.
Annamacharya’s number in praise of the goddess of Tirupathi ‘Alamelu manga nee’ set to Adi talam was just rendered without frills or additions.
Kedaragowla known for its strong melodic and majestic qualities was chosen for Ragam-Tanam- Pallavi. Offering the raga in two installments, Vidya gave extra accent on the raga’s dominant swaras and phrases. The pallavi that followed the tanam was set to Adi Talam went as ‘Sri Venkatesam Smarami Seshachala Nayakam’. After trikalam and a little too long kizh kala swaras and a remotely connected ragamalika swaras in Mohanam and Varali it was time for percussion period. In a RTP where the main raga occupies the major role, it is simply superfluous for ragamalika swaras; even if it is attempted, it should have some relationship or connectivity to the main ragam chosen or a novelty in its approach. Just by adding a few syllables of brisk swaras in assorted ragams hardly add any intellectual or aesthetic worth to the presentation.
While Vidya Subramaniam should be credited for her open mouthed articulation, it should also be reminded to her that if the articulation is centered more on sound than subtlety with the casualty being the elegance.
This was perceptible in all her raga essays. A wise voice modulation and soft and firm touches at the right junctures can create a better impact.
Arunachala Karthik more or less reflected the vocalist’s visions of the raga and adding a few touches of grace in his Ritigowla, Kalyani and Kedaragowla versions. Madurai B Sundar and Trivandrum N Hariharan on the rhythmic side were just passable.