D.B. Ashvin’s concert had a refreshing appeal. His pliant voice helps him explore the middle and upper octave phrases with speed and accuracy of swarasthanas.
The concert picked up instant colour with the pada varnam ‘Omkara pranava’ in Shanmukhapriya composed by maestro Balamuralikrishna with sahityam for the mukhthayi and chittaswarams. After a quick sketch of Atana, Ashvin took up Tyagaraja’s ‘Ilalo Pranatharthiharudanuchu’, a kriti that starts at the upper note. He quickly wrapped up with a short spell of kalpanaswaras to match the notes, the pallavi lines were set in.
With brigas falling in place, he developed the Kalyani alapana showing glimpses of his emotive skills. His acumen in selection of compositions was appreciable. Gopalakrishna Bharati’s ‘Kanden kali theerndhen’ that starts without the madhyamam and panchamam in the phrase, does give a feel of Mohana Kalyani to a lay rasika, but Ashvin handled it convincingly. The lengthy lyrics in the madhyama kala charanam remained a challenge to the singer. His niraval at the anupallavi lines ‘Ninren sannidhi arugil’ again hovered mostly around the tharasthayi phrases. The panchama and shadja varja phrases and a flighty stretch of swaras that followed were enjoyable though.
The Saveri alapana was laced with smooth and time-honoured phrases. An elaborate ‘Rama bana’ of Tygaraja with kalpanaswaras on the lines ‘thammudu badalina vela’ displayed the hues of dhaivatam in the raga. Sudha R.S. Iyer has a clear understanding of the ragas and her essays of Kalyani and Saveri were not mere mirroring of the vocalist’s version. Her kalpanaswara segments aligned with the singer’s imagination.
Ashvin expounded Sulini, the 35th melakartha raga and launched into a tanam for a shorter duration. Sudha’s raga essay too had beautiful phrases. He presented the pallavi set in Panchamukhi, conceptualised by Balamuralikrishna, a combination of 17 and 18 beats adding to 35 to match the raga’s place in the melakartha system. The lyrics ‘Trisulini kapalini paripalini’ yielded well to the counts and Ashvin displayed agility in this laya exercise.
Akshay Anand (mridangam) contributed immensely to keep up the tempo throughout. His tani avarthanam following the Saveri kriti was modest. However, he got a chance to exhibit his skill after the pallavi in panchamukhi and his syllables were well-enunciated.
A few stanzas of Jayadeva’s ashtapadi ‘Pralaya payodhijale’, a hymn on the ten incarnations of Vishnu, was rendered in ragamalika prefixed with verses from Mukundamala stotram, which also was presented in different ragas. A set of lighter shade ragas such as Sahana, Hamsanandi, Hamirkalyani, Durga, Desh and Sindhu Bhairavi, for the concluding part was a good choice.