The packed auditorium was treated to an exquisite blend of Carnatic and Hindustani music that emphasized at once their underlying similarities and their distinctness
Wind Song, a jugalbandi by acclaimed Carnatic vocalist Bombay Jayashri and celebrated Hindustani flautist Ronu Majumdar, was the inaugural concert of the Bangalore edition of the Friday Review November Fest 2012. The packed auditorium was treated to an exquisite blend of the two systems of Indian classical music that emphasized at once their underlying similarities and their distinctness.
Abhogi, the first raga chosen by the duo, was introduced through an alapana that was begun by the flautist with a series of slow, meditative phrases in the mandra sthayi. The slow note by note progression saw the artistes weaving alternate phrases to create a rich tapestry of voice and bansuri, the accent being on melody and aesthetics that displayed a greater affinity to the Hindustani idiom. Absolute synchronization, improvisation founded on a deep understanding, appreciation and reverence for each of the two systems, unfaltering technique and perfect sruthi alignment were the hallmarks of the exercise. The brief invocation beginning ‘Pratham Tero Naam Sumiran’ led immediately to a cascade of swaras in which the subtle differences in usage as prescribed by the two schools were clearly discernible.
Kapinarayani of the Carnatic system and Jinjhoti of the Hindustani were next presented in similar fashion with the artistes at times echoing, at times leading and at others following each other, complementing and completing musical ideas seamlessly. The thana initiated by the vocalist was traditional and gamaka infused, and adorned with entrancing patterns and subtle inflections by both, drawing from rich improvisational resources. The Thyagaraja composition ‘Sarasa Samadana Bhedadanda Chatura’ in adi thala, rendered in a mellow tempo, was the launch pad for an extended, free flowing phase of swaras, with the ebb and flow of creativity from each of the artistes converging at and crowned with a predetermined rhythmic pattern. The ensuing perfectly coordinated and extempore exposition by the percussionists, Ajeet Pathak (tabla) and Sumesh S. Narayanan, was absorbing and ebullient and bore ample testimony to their virtuosity and dexterity, and to the common basics of time, rhythm and thala that bind and distinguish the two streams of Indian classical music.
The timeless classic ‘Krishna Nee Begane Baro’ in Yamuna Kalyani was prefixed with an enchanting raga overture. Short excerpts from the text were the basis of a fairly elaborate expansion by both artistes, with a play on the words by the vocalist, within the structure of the composition itself. A kaleidoscope of ragas preceded the Meera bhajan ‘Payoji Maine Raam Ratan’, the concluding item of a recital that sought to transcend the borders of North and South without transgressing beyond the framework and dictates of classicism.