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The Chennai December Festival

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MUSIC ACADEMY

Surprising choices

CHARUKESI

Swati Tirunal and Dikshitar dominated the recital of Omanakutty.

PHOTO: S.R. RAGHUNATHAN

K. Omana Kutty.

The singer from God's Own Country, K. Omanakutty, began her recital with obeisance in Malayamarutham. It was ‘Rajamathangi Saranam, Gitavadyapriye, Rajarajeswari.'

The surprise item that followed, however, was Subramania Bharati's ‘Karpaga Vinayaka Kadavule Potri' in Tamizh. It was preceded by an alapana in Nattakurinji. While the song was rendered with a lively chittaiswaram, kalpanaswaras added an extra dimension to the composition.

The next was not an often-heard kriti - Muthuswami Dikshitar's ‘Vadanyeswaram Bhajeham Sadha' in Devagandari, sung in praise of the deity of Vallalarkoil near Mayiladuthurai. While it was an evocative Devagandari alapana full of bhavam, the violin version of G. Bharathi too was equally of a high order soaked in raga bhavam. The kriti rendition had its own charm.

The Asaveri alapana that followed was just ordinary but the violin response was good as Bharathi gave the essence of the raga in a brief sketch.

While rendering the kriti of Swati Tirunal, ‘Devapalaya Murare – Devaki Nandana Sowre,' Omanakutty did not opt for a niraval passage, but instead embarked on swaraprastara. It was a chain of swaras. She was a little uncomfortable with the syllables but quickly overcame the rhythmic slip.

One felt that the violinist could have been offered a chance to respond with her own style and imagination. There was another Swati Tirunal sahityam in the line and that was ‘Sumasayaka.'

The Karnataka Kapi raga kriti was so exquisite that when it was rendered in chowka-kalam, it had its own special appeal.

The vocalist chose to present another kriti of Dikshitar, ‘Brihadambigayai Namaste Namaste' in Vasantha. She had time to dwell on the niraval for the line ‘Brahadeesa Mohita Brahmanda Swarupayai' and then she followed it up with swarakalpanas. In the absence of alapana, Omanakutty could treat the niraval passages with colourful sancharas that enhanced the beauty of the kriti on the whole.

When it seemed that the vocalist's preference was either Swati Tirunal or Dikshitar, she began an alapana of Kanada, which was the preamble for a relaxed rendition of ‘Sukhi Evaro' of Tyagaraja. The effort to evoke a contemplative mood paid off.

It was time for ragam-tanam-pallavi and Omanakutty took up Mohanam for a detailed exploration befitting the RTP mode. It was well rendered. The pallavi line was ‘Rajamathangi Paavani Paripurani – Rathna Bhushani Manonmani' with a foray into swaras of Kedaragowla for the end.

The mridangam accompaniment of Tiruvananthapuram R. Vaidyanathan was an asset to the entire performance. (He was perhaps the only accompanist to have asked to lower the volume right at the beginning!). His thani too was sharp and short, while ghatam by Ravichandran was adequate.

Hailing from Kerala, Omanakutty could not have chosen a better song than ‘Karuna Cheyyuvan Enthu Thaamasam Krishna' a Malayalam kriti served as fitting finale.

(charukesiviswanathan@yahoo.co.in)

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