Tuneful, not timely
A fine representative of the Indore gharana.
Pandit Baldev Raj Verma
Pandit Baldev Raj Verma was initiated into Hindustani classical vocal music by his father Pandit Kashi Ram. Later on, he received rigorous training in classical vocal music from Pratap Chand Arora of Amritsar.
His present style of singing has been structured and moulded by the late Pandit Amar Nath who had the rare privilege of being a very close disciple of the legendary Ustad Amir Khan of Indore. The late Khan Sahib was known for his sedative and tranquillising music. True to the tradition of the Indore gharana, Verma's music is marked by reposefulness and a serene consciousness in his handling of the compositions mostly set to a very slow tempo. He seeks to build up the edifice of ragas with wide ranging phrases while maintaining a remarkable aesthetic approach.
Verma commenced his recital of the evening with khayals in raga Bihag that seemed to be a bit too early for that time of the day. It is essentially a raga most suited for rendering later in the evening. Verma however rendered it with good verve and lungpower.
The well-known composition of Shah Sadarang, "Kaise such soveyn" was given detailed handling with good awareness of the raga's basic format and methodically developed alap, badhat and sargams. He was however at his best with his neat and bold taans released with tunefulness and variations. His rendering of this particular song to the 12-beat slow Ek tala however did raise some eyebrows, since the Ustad Amir Khan tradition invariably prefers the slow 14-beat Jhumra tala.
The next song in raga Bihag set to Madhya Teen tala, "Aali ri aali", a rarely heard piece of music, was rendered with lively variations and with quite a good number of well permuted sequences.
It was interesting to observe Verma's penchant for Carnatic ragas Narayani "Sahelriya gaavo ri aaj", Hamsadhwani "Laagi lagan". The concluding song in raga Kirwani "Torey bin chayan nahin" is a parody of the famous Pattanam Subramaniam composition in Kiravani, "Varamulosagi" set to Rupak tala.
Good accompaniment provided on the harmonium by Vinay Kumar Mishra and on the tabla by Prasun Mukherji added immense charm to Verma's impressive recital.
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