An array of impressive recitals marked the recent Vishnu Digambar Jayanti in New Delhi.
The 137th birth anniversary of the saint-musician Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was marked by the Vishnu Digambar Jayanti Sangeet Samaroh 2009, jointly organised by Saraswati Samaj and Gandharva Mahavidyalaya at New Delhi’s Kamani auditorium in four sessions during the past weekend. This annual music festival is known for presenting the judicious combination of young artistes and stalwarts who perform in homage to the revered guru who devoted his life with a missionary zeal to music and musicians. The three-day festival concluded with the spirited rendition of “Mata Kaalika” immortalised by Pandit Jasraj.
The doyen of the Mewati gharana, Pandit Jasraj opened his vocal recital with raga Miyan-Malhar. Although it took him some time to warm up, the raga was rendered in a reposeful manner its format delineated with mastery, especially the oscillation of the komal (flat) Gandhar and the skilful treatment of the twin Nishads, traversing effortlessly over three-and-a-half octaves. The slow tempo bada khayal was set to vilambit Ek tala, while the chhota khayal “Sakhi ri” was sung in medium tempo Teen tala. Raga Shankara came next, with “Shiv-Shankar”, a composition in medium tempo Teen tala. This was followed by a composition from Ganga Lahari of Pandit Jagannath Ratnakar, sung in the same raga.
Known for his noteworthy contribution to Haveli Sangeet with extensive research, he also provided a little bit of this flavour when he sang a pada (poetic composition) of Kumbhan Das in raga Kafi, and “Radhe Radhe bolo” in kirtan style. Before concluding his recital with sublime emotional involvement in “Maata Kaalika”, his popular composition in raga Adana, he called the day auspicious as it was Ganesh Chaturthi and the first day of Ramzan. Mehmood Dhaulpuri on the harmonium and Akram Khan on the tabla gave him inspired support.
Earlier in the evening, Saeed Zafar Khan, a talented young artiste of the Dilli gharana, gave a sitar recital. He chose Yaman Kalyan, a most appealing evening raga, to begin with. After the detailed alap-jod-jhala he played a slow composition in the seven-beat Rupak tala followed by a medium tempo composition in Teen tala. Yaman is normally played with only tivra or sharp Madhyam, but the beauty of Yaman-Kalyan lies in the imaginative use of the other (shuddha) Madhyam, which Saeed used very sparingly. Its absence in the compositions was much more conspicuous, although he seems to be quite sound technically.
Sudhir Pande ably accompanied him on the tabla.
Among a host of recitals, Ustad Rais Khan and his talented son Farhan Khan, from Pakistan, were the star attraction, but the devotional songs by the students of Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, opening each session, were the most remarkable feature of the festival along with the artistic foyer and stage.
Keywords: Vishnu Digambar Jayanti