Timeless music to enthral one and all
MUSIC The recent Shankarlal Music Festival threw up fine performances by Rashid Khan, Sulochana Brahaspati and the venerable Hari Prasad Chaurasia.
THE STALWART: Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia. PHOTO: K. GAJENDRAN.
After the late Sharafat Hussain of the Agra gharana, the only other Hindustani classical vocalist whose musical career one has observed with immense delight is the Rampur-Saheswan gharana's young Rashid Khan. Both of them have to be credited for the constant development of their musical prowess, right from the time of their solo debut as teen-agers and their steady rise to the status as the country's outstanding vocalists. There were no signs of slackness or periods of stalemate in their entire musical career, as has often been in case with a number of other renowned artistes. They both continued to perform with verve and intense artistic insight. Seldom was a single performance of theirs ever reported as dull or unimpressive. Both, the late Sharafat and young Rashid had the good fortune of being groomed by their respective maternal grand-uncles - respectively, the late aaftabe-mausiqi Ustad Fayaz Khan of Baroda and the late Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan of Badayun - besides others.
Singing with strong lungpower and his richly cultivated voice, Rashid established instant rapport with his audience at this year's Shriram Shankarlal Music Festival held at Kamani auditorium recently. The slow Ek tala composition in raga Jog (Piyarwa ko Birmaye) was handled with charm and well deployed embellishments in alap and badhat, besides bearing scintillating sequences in taan-paltas and forceful gamaks.
He attained further heights in the antara (ka aiesi bhul bhayee) with his voice running across the middle and the uppermost octaves with ease and rich tonal appeal. The well-known mid-tempo composition of Prem Piya (aaftabe-musiqi) delighted for its colourful rhythmic variations. He had commendable support from Ustad Mehmood Dholpuri (harmonium), Murad Ali (sarangi), and Sudhir Pandey (tabla).
Shujaat's sitar recital
The festival earlier opened with Shujaat Khan's sitar recital in Raga Gaoti, a variation of the noon-time Raga Bhimpalasi. The overall appeal of his entire evening's performance was rather lackadaisical, rendered with a sketchy alap-jor followed with slow and mid-tempo compositions in Teen tala. He seemed to be performing in a lighter vein. The variations in raga Maanjh Khamaj and Sahana-Kanada too were bereft of much melodic charm. With two tablas and a guitar for accompaniment, the recital by young and talented Shujaat fell much short of one's expectations. One was reminded of his brilliant performance in raga Yaman a couple of years ago at the ITC Sangeet Sammelan that was truly worthy of the illustrious Imdadkhani tradition in sitar. Most instrumentalists are endowed with melodic voices, but unlike Shujaat they usually refrain from over-displaying their vocal prowess. He tended to overdo it particularly on this occasion.
The next evening's concert began with Sulochana Brahaspati's khayals in raga Puriya Kalyan, preceded by Sanskrit hymns rendered with her sonorous and rich-toned vocal forte. It was a pleasure to listen to this well-trained disciple of the late Rampur doyen, Ustad Mushtaq Hussain Khan, after a gap of several years. Her excellent grasp over the khayal and tappa idioms were well reflected in her delineations. It was indeed a welcome change to listen to her renderings in raga Kafi in its unadulterated form of raga Suddha Kafi rather than its more usually heard hybrid form of raga Mishra Kafi - mostly as light classical compositions.
Her next rendering of the same raga, however, had dominant shades of the allied Sindhura. The concluding tappa in raga Pilu would have appealed better if rendered at a fast-paced time-cycle. Bharat Bhushan Goswami (sarangi) and Fateh Singh Gangani (tabla) provided commendable support to Brahaspati.
Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia delighted with his flute recital in raga Bageshwari, a most appropriate melody for that time of the evening. This recital of his would be remembered as one of his most delightful in recent times. He performed with intense artistic depth and melodic charm. The reposeful alap-jor followed with a mid-tempo nine beat Matta tala composition, with Ustad Shafaat Ahmed Khan's adroit tabla accompaniment, were a delight to the senses.
One, however, wonders why Pandit Chaurasia and santoor maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma have a penchant for short rhythmic time-cycles of seven, nine or 10 beats for their slow and mid-tempo renderings - rather than broad-based ones such as Tilwada or Jhumra, which offer better scope for improvisations at length.
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