Vivek Sadasivam scored with his Pantuvarali and Vagadeeswari essays
Vivek Sadasivam rendered Pantuvarali and Vagadeeswari for equally long durations in his two-hour vocal at Naadhabrahmam, contrasting the beauty of the two ragas set to different times of day. Both ‘Shambho mahadeva’ and ‘Paramatmudu velige’ were Tyagaraja’s; only that an entailing tani avartanam for the second defined its status as the main.
The youngster’s Pantuvarali alapana mixed flashy frills with long-drawn notes. What began as a briga-powered alapana soon became unhurried when punctuated with plain resting places. Vivek had a sore throat that played truant towards the upper registers. The good side was a strong baritone. Violinist Indhalur Shyam Raghav sketched the contours of Pantuvarali well in his reply, overcoming initial struggles in negotiating certain bends of the evening raga. The medium-paced ‘Shambho mahadeva’ didn’t exactly match the texture of the alapana, but Kolkata-raised Vivek’s niraval at ‘Sharanagata janarakshaka’ carried reposefulness with a touch of Hindustani classical. The swaraprastara built festivity.
In fact, Vivek’s flair for vivacity was evident in the previous (second) number. ‘Ganapatiye karunanidhiye’ in Karaharapriya was peppy enough for the percussionists to warm up around Papanasam Sivan’s adi tala composition. Both V.M. Kannan (mridangam) and Elathur N. Hari Narayanan (ghatam) sustained the supportive spirit, not missing it even during free passages of their tani avartanam.
That 14-minute interface in the second half of the concert did keep up the sobriety of the centrepiece in Vagadeeswari. For that, credit chiefly goes to the vocalist. Delivering the kriti to an optimal speed, he ensured that its proportion suited the span of the kutcheri. Vivek’s 10-minute alapana of the morning raga often trod along Khamas, whose parent-scale Harikamboji differs with Vagadeeswari on just one note. The distinguishing shatshruti rishabham gained centrality in Shyam Raghav’s solo response.
‘Paramatmudu’ was neatly delineated with precise loops and slides. ‘Gagananila tejo’ at the opening of the charanam gave a (false) hint at a niraval in the offing. Vivek bypassed the exercise and embarked on an imaginative swaraprastara. This nine-minute drill displayed the vocalist’s penchant for arithmetic progressions, but seldom diluting the raga essence.
Earlier, Vivek began with a varnam in Kedaragowla. Tiruvottiyur Tyagaiyyar’s ‘Swamidaya chuda’ starts on a high note. So, the vocalist opened with a raga-in-a-nutshell alapana. His Pantuvarali spanned 36 minutes, yet a Mohanam that followed, too, came with an introductory alapana — crisp and effective. A virutham preceded the mishra chapu-set ‘Kadambari priyayai’. That turned out to be the concert’s sole kriti by Muthuswami Dikshitar, to whom Vivek traces his gurus’ lineage. Tyagaraja’s ‘Emidova’ (Saranga) was the filler ahead of the main suite.
Winding up with Gopalakrishna Bharati’s ‘Iduvo tillai’ in Sindhubhairavi after ‘Uppum karpooramum’ (by another Tamil composer Marimutha Pillai), Vivek’s music bore the floweriness of his guru Sanjay Subrahmanyan as much as the sobriety-laden orthodoxy of late R.K. Srikantan, who earlier taught him. Either way, there was no imitation or gimmickry. Sobriety and originality were the hallmarks.
The writer is a keen follower of Kerala’s performing arts.