Dedicated to Pandit Ravi Shankar, this years Swami Haridas Tansen Sangeet Nritya Samaroh, organised at the Shankarlal Hall of Modern School, opened with a melodious Jhinjhoti on sarod by Ustad Ashish Khan. Pt. Bikram Ghosh accompanied him with two pairs of tabla tuned to madhya and taar shadja respectively, reciprocating the sarod bols in different octaves.
Flanked by Shiraz Khan, his nephew and disciple and Manik Khan, the youngest son of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Ashishs tuneful alaap created an appealing ambience and the masitkhani gat elaborated the raga at length. But the drut gat, composed by Ashishs grandfather Baba Allauddin Khan, took Bikram for a ride with its deceptive mukhda (the opening phrase), when he showed the sam on khali, the 9th beat of Teentala instead of the first, which is the sam of any tala. It was because the tongue in cheek composition had proceeded without taking note of the sam and took a breath only on khali, stopping there for a while.
Ashish played a shorter version of the composition later to offer Bikram an opportunity to showcase his prowess. The Ustad also gave ample opportunity to the young sarodias to revel in imaginative improvisations during the concluding Zila Kafi, playing a couple of old compositions of Baba Allauddin Khan.
Begum Parveen Sultana presented the timely raga Puriya Dhanashri with a vilambit and the chhota Khayal Payaliya jhanakar& with complicated sargam and akar taans and the customary echo effect that gets her instant applause. There was a thumri in Mishra Pahadi, Kaun gali gayo Shyam& where Vinay Mishras sensitive touches on Harmonium and the tabla laggi of Mithilesh with the Banarasi Dha tin na da, added allure. The Hamsadhwani tarana was understandable on public demand but there was no need to succumb to the farmaish of her film song from Kudrat that wiped off the positive vibes of the classical concert.
One of the strengths of our age-old Guru-Shishya tradition is the way a musician ages in his art. The mature treatment of Jaijaiwanti, Hansadhwani, and the romantic Pahadi Dhun by Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia on his bewitching bansuri and the vocal performance of Pt. Chhannu Lal Mishra were cases in point. Increasing weakness through age, affecting the muscles of his vocal chord, may have resulted in making Chhannu Lal less tuneful, but his zeal was intact. He opened with his customary remarks Stage is like a temple for me, citing the oft-told story of Narad, where Vishnu tells him I dwell where my devotees sing.
He presented some compositions in rare ragas like Shahana, Hem-Kalyan, a self-composed Bhajan invoking Hanuman, set to Ada Chautal before he reached his favourite domain of thumri dadra and invited the evergreen Kathak exponent Uma Sharma, who organises the event with the HCL Concerts, to join him with her captivating abhinaya.
The evening had opened with an impressive dhrupad recital by Ud. Wasifuddin Dagar presenting a profound Puriya with detailed alap and a Chautala composition. He concluded with a sool-tala Bandish in Malkauns, accompanied on pakhawaj by Pt. Mohan Shyam Sharma.
The most gratifying performance was by Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar, who brought out the vocal enunciation of his exceptionally difficult gayaki, which is the confluence of Gwalior, Jaipur and Agra gharanas in his memorable Jogkauns and Nayaki Kanada.
Opening with the vilambit Ektaal composition Sughar var payo&., and the popular Chhota Khayal Peer parai& in Jogkauns, he offered the most satiating savouring of the raga with perfect balance and care. Nayaki Kanada explored the hidden recesses of the raga through the Rupak and Teentala compositions. The pieces had clean and brisk pacing across the scale, showing symmetries along the way. There were bol taans taking leaps of great distances with a fine command over the lyrical substance of the compositions. The most understanding theka on tabla by Pt. Suresh Talwalkar, an inspired harmonium accompaniment by Vinay Mishra and the adequate vocal support by Ojesh Pratap Singh were admirable.
The melodious Tilak Kamod on the singing sitar of Ud. Shujat Khan was the other attraction of the evening. The compelling appeal and the tone of his instrument and the nostalgic composition were a sheer delight but he unnecessarily wasted time towards the end in the prolonged, chaotic jhala.
The concluding evening opened with an amicable Lalita-Gauri on sarod by Aman and Ayaan Ali, the gifted sons and disciples of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. They presented a pensive alaap and compositions set to Jhaptala and Ada Chautala in this introspective raga. Accompanied on tabla by Satyajit Talwalkar and Anuvrat Chatterjee, they also presented exquisite compositions of their Guru in raga Nand-Kauns and Malkauns.
Melodious sarod recital
The festival concluded with the melodious sarod recital by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. The tonal purity of his luminous sarod strikes the mind and heart at once, but he left the discerning listeners somewhat unquenched. The short alaap in the rare raga Bihari and a nostalgic composition set to addha theka was a warm-up for Darbari Kanhada.
The very opening statement of the profound raga with the Andolit Gamak (oscillation) on the mandra dhaivat and then on the Ati Mandra Gandhar during the alaap, fuelled high anticipation for a detailed treatment to the majestic raga, with reposeful alaap-jod-jhala to begin with, but surprisingly, it all ended up within 15 minutes and Khan Saheb switched over to Rageshree.
He played a couple of compositions set to Jhaptal and Ada-Chautala, providing ample opportunity to both the tabla accompanists to showcase their prowess. The third gat composition in the same raga, set to Teentala, was followed by the Rabindranath Tagore song , Ekla Chalo and the Assam folk tune of Bihu. He concluded the festival with a Bhairavi Dhun set to the lilting gait of dadra, where he most skilfully incorporated all twelve notes and left the audience enthralled.