The duet between the sitar and the flute offered contrasting moods.
A concert organised as ‘Jalsa’ is not an event to be ignored, the listeners seemed to say as they invaded Sri Krishna Gana Sabha auditorium in hordes, and on time too. It's worth noting that the organisers, Art and Artists, had used a social media such as Facebook posts to garner crowds for the concerts, attracting a good mix of young and older listeners.
The two central artists playing a sitar and flute duet were Purbayan Chatterjee and Shashank Subramanyam. The day's programme also had other artists such as Sikklil Gurucharan and S.J. Jananiy lined up.
In fact, a young Bangalore techie had helped kindle interest in the programmes through posts, calling them ‘Jalsa Days,’ and stating the day, date and venue of the concerts, which received a huge response. The Purbayan (Hindustani/sitar) and Shashank (Carnatic/flute) duo was effective mainly by contrast. Shashank was in a deep, mellow mood, and I liked that. Purbayan was at his effervescent best, his face lighting up with every intricate sanchara he presented. So it's no wonder that the-hour-and-a-half duet had several highly melodious moments for rasikas to enjoy.
Anubrata Chatterjee on the tabla and K. Sai Giridhar on the mridangam played a fine role and impressed in a brief tani. Anubrata is the son of tabla maestro Aninda Chatterjee.
Shashank and Purbayan had decided that the concert would have ragas not commonly played at jugalbandhis. They began with a raga elaboration of Kedar or Hamirkalyani, as it is called down South.
Purbayan learnt the sitar from his father Parthaprathim Chatterjee, and his music is inspired by the great musician Pandit Nikhil Banerjee. Purbayan gives contemporary touches to Nikhil Banerjee's rich style. This was evident even as Purbayan played the first few strains of Kedar. Shashank took up the raga and enriched it with some beautiful passages, particularly in the lower octave. A sign of good artists is that they soak the audience fully in the melody within a few minutes. After an excellent raga enunciation in slower and faster speeds, the duo played the composition ‘Kanhare Nanda Nandana’ in Kedar, alternating with swara passages at the end.
Purbayan led with some faster passages. That set Shashank off exploring pulsating swara patterns on the panchama. Superfast passages by both artists led to an adrenalin rush. They were wise to limit this rush of superspeed.
Next, it was time for RTP in Charukesi. Shashank went off on a contemplative exploration of the raga. Purbayan emphasised the middle octave dwelling beautifully on the dhaivata. When he touched the tara sthayi panchama with ease, Shashank followed suit with some beautiful swara enunciations in the higher octave. Shashank's mellow tanam forced the effervescent Purbayan into a mellow tanam too. The duo rounded it off with a pallavi and swaram, once again lending energy to the superfast ending passages.