Young sitar player Abhik Mukherjee's concert was a salute to the characteristics of his gharana.
India International Centre's new initiative of having a Baithak series of classical music concerts at their Annexe auditorium is throwing up the most pleasant surprises. Young talents barely ever heard in the capital's music circuit are proving to be absolute delight to the audience. One such extraordinary performance came from the sitar player Abhik Mukherjee who enthralled the listeners at the recent Baithak .
Abhik is a young representative of the Imdadkhani-Etawah gharana of sitar, popularly referred to as the Vilayatkhani Baaj, associated as it is with the specific style of the legendary sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. Initiated into music by his father Tarit Mukherjee at the young age of six, Abhik learnt sitar initially from Bimal Chatterjee and vocal from Kalyan Bose. A gold medallist from Ravindra Bharati University and also given a scholarship by the Ministry of Culture, Abhik was further groomed in Vilayatkhani Baaj known specially for its gaayaki ang under gurus like Pandit Kashinath Mukherjee and Pandit Arvind Parikh, both senior-most disciples of Ustad Vilayat Khan.
With a great urge for graceful expression, the sensitive Abhik has painstakingly imbibed the characteristic features of Vilayatkhani Baaj. This was evident all through his concert. He opened his recital with a detailed aalap-jod-jhaala and a couple of slow and medium tempo compositions in the most popular and challenging monsoon raga Miyan Malhar. One could discern the pleasing and deftly executed khayal type murkis in aalap, while he meticulously elaborated the raga. The oscillation of the komal gandhar and the imaginative use of both the nishaads created the desired effect of this raga. The slow composition set to teen-tala had the most unusual and striking ‘sam' on the meend from rishabh to pancham, the most vital note combination of this raga. The reposeful treatment of the raga during the slow composition often belied Abhik's young age.
There were two more compositions in this raga set to medium and fast tempo of teen-tala where he showed his virtuosity in crystal clear taans, before the crescendo of a neat jhala. Raga Tilak Kamod came next as a comely contrast when Abhik played an immortal vintage composition of Ustad Inayat Khan enunciated with the contemplative quality of Khan Sahib's own romantic personality. Abhik's authentic execution of this melodious composition had the old world charm that continued till he wound it up softly mellowing it down to a very slow tempo.
Abhik concluded his recital with raga Khamaj, preceded with a thumri like aalap replete with meend, krintan, zamzama et al before he played a traditional composition of this gharana that sounded like a bandishi thumri in Addha Theka. These old compositions took the listeners down memory lane with its nostalgic charm . Devjyoti Dasgupta provided the most musical accompaniment on tabla.