K. Gayatri’s concert was too brisk to convey the joy of music
Good classical flourishes and a lively flow that could grab instant attention were the highlights of K. Gayatri’s concert for The Music Academy’s virtual Margazhi festival. A brisk Amritavarshini varnam at the start was a novelty. It is a composition of her guru, Suguna Purushottaman.
Gayatri sang ‘Pavanatmaja’ (Dikshitar, Nattai), a kriti on Lord Anjaneya and swaras to wrap up. By this time, however, she had pressed the accelerator too much. She tempered the mood with a beautiful Begada raga alapana and the kriti ‘Neeverakula dhanamu’ (Tyagaraja, misra chapu), giving her the opportunity to showcase her depth. M. Rajeev was equal to the task, taking Begada to a different plane. Niraval at ‘Tyagaraja vara hridaya’ seemed to get stuck in the first speed, but was soon tweaked to bring the momentum back.
Surfeit of sangatis
Gayatri hustled again in ‘Manasavrta’ (Abhogi, Patnam Subramanya Iyer), presenting a song with many minute sangatis in a frenzy. The song deserved a slower gait.
The Madhyamavati raga alapana had poise, both in Gayatri’s singing and in Rajeev’s playing. The latter added some nice touches with ‘ni’ and ‘sa’ varjyam (pa sa ni, for example) to break the standard line.
‘Palinchu Kamakshi pavani’ (Syama Sastri) was adeptly rendered in an engaging tempo. The niraval at ‘Jagamu kaapaadu’ picked an interesting spot. Gayatri will need to judge the optimal limits for niraval in terms of time versus incremental aesthetics; there is a point of diminishing returns. The swaras were intelligent and added to the weight of the piece.
Melody is not Rajeev’s only forte. He played with a good balance of quality and quantity. Poongulam Subramaniam’s support was conducive to both Gayatri’s brisk style and the laya of the songs. Chandrasekara Sharma complemented well in a concert where all the artistes showed laya strength.
Gayatri could have made better use of a relaxed singing style, but she was so purpose-led that she missed the trick of enjoying her music, which is often the best stimulant for artistic expression.