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Friday, August 10, 2001

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Feast of Hindustani music

AUGUST 5 was a memorable day for the lovers of Hindustani music. For the first time they had the privilege of attending a series of classical concerts, vocal and instrumental, that began in the afternoon stretched up to 10 p.m. And the performers were none less than the renowned artistes from the Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata. The enjoyable evening was the outcome of combined efforts of the Bengal Association, Chennai, the Viswa Kala Sangam, Chennai, and the ITC Sangeet Sammelan. The musicians featured were Aniruddha Bhattacharjee (vocal), Kushal Das (sitar), Ulhas Kashalkar (vocal), Debashish Bhattacharjee (guitar), Ajoy Chakrabarty (vocal), Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay (tabla), Abhijit Banerjee (tabla), Jyoti Goho and Koushik Bhattacharjee (harmonium).

The artistes themselves enjoyed performing for the knowledgeable Chennai audience, though they felt they did not have enough time to do full justice. To have five different artistes of very high calibre, each performing for an hour or a little more, was just not satisfying. Nevertheless, it was a great experience.

Except Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, who has been to Chennai several times, it was the first time recital in the city for the artistes all of whom are members of the Sangeet Research Academy, Kolkata.

This Academy is supported by the ITC Sangeet Sammelan, where the guru sishya parampara style of functioning is adopted.

Gurus of different Gharanas live in the premises where sishyas enrol themselves and live in the campus. Thus the present generation students have the benefit of interaction among different gharanas and their varied styles. The team spirit was evident that evening.

The evening began with the invocation on Lord Ganesha, beautifully rendered by Ms. Ranjani Ramachandran. The first artiste to sing was Aniruddha Bhattacharjee (SRA Scholar), with Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay on the tabla and Koushik Bhattacharjee on the harmonium. He presented the early afternoon raag, Bhimplasi, with a vilambit in ek taal. Aniruddha is gifted with a rich and powerful voice, which he modulated very well in the higher octaves. The exploration in madhyalaya was very imaginative and rhythmic. The popular drut, ``Ja Ja re apne'' in teen taal was presented very well with vibrant variations. His rich voice lent itself to the fast rendering of tans. This was followed by a very touching Meera Bhajan in Misra Kirvani, ``Rama nama rasa peethe, manuva''.

The sitar recital by Kushal Das followed with Abhijit Banerjee on the tabla. He rendered raag Shudh Kalyan in teen taal. The two artistes, excelled each other in performance, one challenging the other. The drut that followed the vilambit was excellent.

The next vocal artiste for the evening was Ulhas Kashalkar, guru at the Sangeet Academy, with Ananda Gopal on the tabla and Jyoti Goho on the harmonium. He presented the early evening raag Puriya Dhanashri, ``Sadha Rang de'', in vilambit, ek taal. Stress was on the gamakas which delineated the roop of the raag very well. The drut, ``Aana re Mil jana'' in teen taal that followed was rendered expertly with a wide variety of tans and swaras. The Bandesh that followed was in Gowd Malhar, a raag for the rainy season.

Debashish Bhattacharjee who played classical music on the guitar deserves special mention. His guitar is a 22-string instrument where the chikari is played in the front. The way he played the instrument, looked similar to that of playing the chitra veena and the sound too was quite like it. The gamakas came out so well that he presented a very soulful music. Debashish played the melodious raag, Ragheshri, and the soft flowing music was so soothing, it was hard to believe it was from the guitar. The lengthy explorations on each pluck during the alaap and the swaraprasthav with well matched tabla accompaniment were very exciting.

The grand finale of the evening was Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty's vocal music with Abhijit Banerjee on the tabla and Jyoti Goho on the harmonium. But due to lack of time, he could sing only for an hour. It was touching that he chose to render raag Meghmalhar, so that the rain starved city might benefit. His command over the raag and his expert knowledge was exhibited when he demonstrated how other raags such as Bhoop, Malkouns and Durga come in to play during srutibhedha in raag Meghmalhar. The popular piece ``Kya karoon sajani'' in raag Bhairavi was beautifully sung. The rare combinations of swaras seemed to be a fresh garland of the most familiar raag. Swati Tirunal's composition, ``Sri Ramachandra Prabhu'', yet another piece in Bhairavi, concluded the evening's performance.

PUSHPA LAKSHMAN

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