A rare enthusiasm and freshness marked the online vocal concert of Amrutha Venkatesh for the 63rd Annual Art Festival of the South Indian Cultural Association, Hyderabad. She opened the concert on a confident note with ‘Amma Aanandadaayini’, the Gambhiranattai padavarnam by M. Balamuralikrishna. Her immaculate kalapramana and flair for rhythmical grammar came to the fore instantly. This padavarnam is a great example of the musician and composer’s spirit of experimentation and vast creativity.
Amrutha followed this up with Swati Tirunal’s popular Mayamalavagowla composition, ‘Deva deva kalayami’ in Rupakam, with a lengthy, melodic swaraprastara at the pallavi. L. Ramakrishnan on the violin offered an equally charming response.
Amrutha is known for blending tradition with innovation. She is a disciple of Prince Rama Varma and was also trained by the legendary Parassala Ponnammal. She had her earlier tutelage under M.T. Selvanarayana and Charumathi Ramachandran. Amrutha won the Music Academy’s Outstanding Vocalist award for five consecutive years from 2013. She is an eminent veena artiste as well.
In this concert, the jewel in the crown, so to speak, was the leisurely and extended alapana in the not-so-often-heard Nasikabhushani, the 70th Melakarta raga. The singer faithfully brought out the authentic features of this beautiful raga. Her cruise across three octaves was admirable, especially for the rare yet pleasant phrasings. The raga rendering on the violin deserved appreciation too. Amrutha’s kalpanaswaras for Tyagaraja’s ‘Maravairi Ramani’ (Adi – Tisra Nadai) on goddess Dharmasamvarddhini of Thiruvaiyaru were a connoisseur’s delight.
Then came the breezy Kadanakuthuhalam composition by Mysore Vasudevachar, ‘Neekela dayaradu Raghu Ramachandra’. How can we ever imagine a kriti in this raga without chittaswara; and this piece had one, starting with MaGaRiMaDa.
The highlight, however, was Tyagaraja’s all-time favourite ‘Chakkani raja margamu’. She combined diverse features and hues of Karaharapriya here. The swaraprastara at the charanam, ‘Kantiki sundaramagu’ was lucid.
The thani offered by S.J. Arjun Ganesh (mridangam) and Dr. S. Karthick (ghatam) was of high quality. While the laya artistry of Arjun Ganesh was smooth and enjoyable, Karthick gave several hints of his rhythm finesse.
Amrutha Venkatesh then rendered Annamacharya’s ‘Muddugare Yasoda’ in Kurinji, evoking the emotion of bhakti. She ended her recital with her own composition, a thillana in raga Surya, invoking Surya. S. Sowmya, her student, was on the tambura. The concert is available on Hopead TV’s YouTube channel.
The Chennai-based reviewer specialises in Carnatic music.