Never a dull moment. Carnatic Music in the hands of the Veena maestro Rajhesh Vaidhya turns this century old instrument and its music, into a modern day work of art. Rajhesh Vaidhya like a chameleon produced ever changing sounds that were thought unlikely on the veena, from subtle gamakas to frantic theermanams with touches of guitar chords to bass guitar immitations interspersed with subtle sitar like meend work. He showed all and almost every aspect of string work establishing his technical command and the place of the veena as the king of all instruments rightfully. Deftly using both hands with equal efficiency Rajhesh Vaidhya captured the attention of its audience from the word go. With a generous following of rhythmic percussionists, who played in sync, with and without each other, he conquered Sydney. Few musicians like to give exposure to local talents however Rajhesh included Janakan Suthanthiraraj on Kanjira and Jeiram Jagatheesan on Moorsing, both young sydney artists, both were given plenty of opportunity to perform solo sections during the thani avarthanam.
Uncompromisingly establishing the beautiful sounds of the veena the concert started with a sloka rendition in Ragam Charukesi followed by a varnam composed by Balamurali Krishna. Mixing the melodic rich notes of Ragam Hamsanadam in a zesty Bantu Reeti Kollu, the audience were set for a roller coaster ride. What followed was a soulful heartfelt raga alapanai in Hamsanandhi which turned into a thanam containing a touch of chord work, fitted in tastefully so it did not sound out of place in the arrangement. ‘Paavana Guru’ Lalitha Daasar’s composition turned anew in his hands. The Pancharatna kriti that is so successfully produced on the veena was ‘Entharomahanubhavulu’ where his daughter vocals were introduced albeit requiring a little mic balancing. The next popular song played was ‘Chinnachiri kiliye’ a song composed by Tamil Poet Subrahmaniya Bharathiyar in a ragamalika made for the full circle of entertainment. The Ragam Thanam Pallavi that followed was set to five ragams. Quizzing as to what ragams they were in, he sang the Pallavi and performed a ragam and thanam that stand out for their innovative finguring techniques and chordal composition. The ragams introduced were Pantuvarali, Kalyani, Sindhu Bhairavi to name a few, some of the other ragams [Names provided below by Vijayabala] overlapped in and out in no particular order or sequence. What however stood out as a well planned rendition was the thani avarthanam between all the percussionists who showed their partnership with pizzazz and confidence.
Kamban Kazhagam’s houseful concert firmly established the pride of their work with Tamil and English announcements being made intermittently. A question answer session, a quiz on the RTP and the surprise introduction of his daughter’s vocals in EntharoMahanubhavo added interest making the evening entertaining. The rest of the evening was followed by the playing of popular old tamil movie songs of audience choice. Rajhesh Vaidhya’s excellent command over his veena is not to be scorned at. Purists may have liked a different choice of ragams and format of concert, but with the majority of rasikas enjoying his feet tapping numbers, who cared.
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