The Vishnu Digambar Jayanti provided an opportunity to hear newcomers and stalwarts alike. Concluding a review of some of the performances…

The four-day Vishnu Digambar Jayanti Sangeet Samaroh, organised by Gandharva Mahavidyalaya to celebrate the 140th birth anniversary of the legendary musician-scholar Vishnu Digambar Paluskar, opened at the India Habitat Centre on August 16 with a vocal recital by Raghunandan Panshikar.

A disciple of the doyenne of the Jaipur-Atrauli gharana Kishori Amonkar, he chose Puriya Dhanashree to begin his recital and presented a vilambit bada khayal “Kaise Din Rain” in Teen tala. Puriya Dhanashree drops Shuddh Madhyam of Purvi and accords prominence to Pancham. He paid required attention to bringing out the character of the raga in sharp relief by elaborating it while making good use of aakaar-laced behlawa and bol-alap. His guru Kishori Amonkar coalesced various strands of the Kirana style into her Jaipur-Atrauli gayaki, so as to make it rich in terms of emotional content by adding extended alap. Raghunandan seems to have taken the process even further, thus reinforcing the Kirana ingredients. It was a little surprising that despite long years of training with a great maestro, he adopted a somewhat cautious approach, offering competent singing sans any surprises. The drut composition “Payaliya Jhankar” had an unmistakable stamp of the late Bhimsen Joshi, especially in taan patterns. However, while his bada khayal sounded a little boring and flat, he came into his element in the chhota khayal and regaled the audience with his forceful taans.

Keeping in mind the demands of the rainy season, Panshikar moved on to Anand Malhar — a variant of Malhar that is not a combination of Anandi and Malhar but contains tonal substances offering shades of various melodies ranging from Gaud to Kalyan — and presented a madhya laya Teen tala composition “Barsat Ghan Aayo Rangilo”. His taans, meend and gamak were attractive. Panshikar, who was ably accompanied on the harmonium by Vinay Mishra and the tabla by Durjay Bhaumik, concluded his recital with a familiar Tulsidas bhajan “Jab Janakinath Sahay Karen”.

Rajendra Prasanaa, assisted by Rishabh and Rajesh Prasanna, gave a flute recital choosing Bageshree as his opening raga. After an auchar-like short alap, he straightaway dived into a vilambit gat. He was tuneful with good command over his instrument but his strumming of the swarmandal strings as well as frequently changing flutes to create tonal variations divested the performance of some seriousness. He also played a drut gat and offered a competent rendering of Bageshree. Subh Maharaj accompanied him on the tabla.

Devaki Pandit chose the ancient and sombre raga Shree and struggled in the opening phrases of the vilambit khayal “Saanjh Bhaee Ghar Aao”. However, she soon stabilised and elaborated the raga in aakaar, employing the usual devices in this meend-pradhan raga placing emphasis on Komal Rishabh and Pancham. Her alap could not hold the listener’s attention for long although her bol-taans and aakaar-taans were quite attractive. She later sang a chhota khayal, “Pavansut Naam Mahavir”, followed by a scintillating tarana. However, one felt that her voice occasionally became unmusical, especially in the upper ranges. Vinay Mishra and Durjay Bhaumik accompanied her on the harmonium and tabla respectively.

Young Bhuvanesh Komkali possesses an impressive pedigree. He is the grandson of Kumar Gandharva and son of that wayward genius Mukul Shivputra. Bhuvanesh opened his recital with Shiv Kedar, a variant of the hoary Kedar fashioned by Kumar Gandharva by placing much more emphasis on Gandhar. It was heartening to note that Bhuvanesh was not trying to imitate either his father or his grandfather. Though his voice projection reminded one of Mukul Shivputra, his renderings followed the worldview of Kumar Gandharava. His vilambit Ek tala khayal “Jogi Jaagyo Re” was not taut enough but did not lack in charm. His drut khayal, “Kanganwa Mora Atihi Amolak”, as well as tarana were rendered in a self-assured style. Bhavanesh was accomapanied by Paromita Mukherjee on the harmonium and Kharak Singh on the tabla.

The festival also witnessed performances by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt on the Mohan veena and Satish Vyas on the santoor.