SANJEEV ABHYANKAR, a leading disciple of Pt. Jasraj, performed under the joint auspices of Hamsadhwani and Carnatica. This was Carnatica's maiden foray into Hindustani music; Hamsadhwani, of course, has always provided for Hindustani musicians, both local and outsiders.
The warm and appreciative audience, unmindful of this inconvenience, sat back to enjoy the two-hour concert which included ragas Yaman, Kalavati, Bageshree and a couple of devotional renditions. The first thing that strikes one about Abhyankar's music is the seeming effortlessness, whether he is touching the mandra rishabha or the taara panchama. This enviable range is a real one in that he incorporates it into his singing at all times - not just in an exhibitionist manner of touching the notes once or twice in the concert to show "I can do it", and then singing within a much reduced range. Sustained riaz is the key here.
Another feature of Abhyankar's music is its caressing softness almost to the point of taking away weightiness that one expects in a classical concert. He depends not on masculinity and power, but on the lyricism of soft and deft strokes delivered with finesse.
The brief Yaman was delineated around two traditional compositions, "Kahe sakhi kaise ke kariye" in vilambit ektaal and "Eri aali piya bin" in drut teentaal. The vistaar comprised both alaap and sargam. Complex patterns were created with ease and confidence.
Delightful taans, clever and fresh tihais, in sargam, and the gamaka taans went down well with the audience. The brevity in treatment perhaps reduced the impact that this great raga could have had, especially when handled by a musician of Abhyankar's talent and training. Kalavati, a raga with popular appeal, was given a briefer treatment, as befits it. "Aiy, jiya chain nahin" in Rupak taal and "Bansi ke bajaiya" in drut teentaal brought out the sringara bhava that this raga lends itself to so easily. Bageshree, another raga with immense possibilities, was quickly developed around three compositions. Possibly, Abhyankar opted for brevity as a strategy to make an impact on a Chennai audience. But his musicianship was nowhere in doubt. The graceful alaaps and vivacious sargams, all impeccably delivered, the respect given to raga rules, all stood out in testimony to this singer's quality. And perhaps no other musician can strike the taara shadja the way Abhyankar does, melting into it as it were. The concert came to an end with a piece from Haveli Sangeeth followed by the prayerful composition, "Niranjani narayani" in raga Bhairavi - both popularised by Pt. Jasraj. The absence of tanpuras (the real ones, that is) was disappointing. The harmonium accompaniment provided by Suyog Kundalkar was of high quality - like a lovely shadow coming out during the gaps in the singer's exposition, never intrusive, always supportive. The tabla accompaniment provided by Arun was competent though it was disturbing that he had trouble tuning the table right.
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