Kolkata-based Hindustani vocalist Subhankar Chatterjee impressed Delhi music lovers

As part of its endeavour to promote young talents, India International Centre in New Delhi presented a Hindustani vocal recital by Subhankar Chatterjee from Kolkata this past week.

A disciple of Komal Sadhu Khan, Aloke Chatterjee and the late Kumar Prasad Mukherjee, Subhankar showed a lot of unrealised potential and one came back from his concert with the hope that he would be able to avoid musical waywardness so typical of many a young artiste. Also, he will have to evolve his own idiom by fashioning a creative blend of all the musical influences imbibed so far.

Though young, Subhankar is no stranger to the concert circuit and has been performing in India and abroad since 1996. When he opened his recital with the familiar bada Khayal in Yaman, “Piya bin ratiyan bairan bhaee”, one was pleasantly surprised to listen to a stylised way of what is known as “sthayi bharana”, clearly showing the Agra gharana influence imparted by the late Kumar Prasad Mukherjee. It was not the standard nom-tom alap of the Agra mint and the young artiste had very skilfully weaved various elements into it.

Subhankar has a deep, sonorous voice that can do wonders in the mandra and madhya saptak. He attempted a step-by-step elaboration of this beautiful raga for a while and impressed with his musical phrasing. However, he could not sustain it for very long and one felt disappointed when one witnessed him falling prey to the temptation to show off. It also made apparent that his voice lost much of its luminosity in the taar saptak. His treatment of the Yaman bandish had strong traces of Bhimsen Joshi’s influence. Subhankar showed a lot of taiyari but the unusually high presence of gamak in his rendering had a somewhat jarring effect.

And so was the excessive use of gamak-laden sargams that he substituted for aakaar taans, turning the recital into a veritable “riyaz ka gana”. While singing a drut Manrang composition “Shyam bajaee aaj muraliya”, he demonstrated a koot taan by just singing its sargam. The use of sargams in a recital is no virtue or defect in itself. What matters is how the artiste uses this device and to what effect. If it takes the recital forward and enhances its aesthetic enjoyment, it is a great virtue. But if used as a gimmick, it fails to impress.

After offering a full-fledged rendition of Yaman, Subhankar turned his attention to singing a bandish ki tumri “Roko na dagar mori Shyam” in Mishra Tilak Kamod. He concluded his recital with a Mishra Bhairavi bhajan. Dibakar Chowdhury and Swapnamoy Banerjee accompanied him on tabla and harmonium respectively.