Music

Melodic melange

Rising to the occasion: Malini Awasthi in performance

Rising to the occasion: Malini Awasthi in performance   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

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With Pandit Bhajan Sopori and his son Abhay Sopori at the helm, the 15th SaMaPa Sangeet Sammelan at IHC in Delhi stood out for its unwavering commitment to presentation of different forms and schools of music, featuring venerated veterans and rising stars

Under the musical guidance of Pandit Bhajan Sopori and ably carried out by his worthy son-disciple Abhay Sopori, SaMaPa Sangeet Sammelan, spread over five days and two venues, saw performers who are rarely heard in Delhi.

At the India Habitat Centre, the festival commenced with a power-packed tabla solo by Delhi-debutant Deepak Sahai, disciple of the legendary Sharda Sahai of the Banaras gharana. This brief but robust recital, having melodious sarangi naghma by Ghanshyam Sisodia, was juxtaposed with the gharana’s better known and perhaps the sweetest genre, Purab Anga Gayaki. Albeit stamped ‘light classical’, this form is too complex to be so, and this was amply proved by its renowned exponent Piu Muherjee (Kolkata) who expertly dished out a bandishi Tilang thumri, a breathtaking Punjabi tappa, a sweet Gara dadra and a bhajan in her golden voice, ably assisted by Durjay Bhaumik (tabla) and Paromita Mukherjee (harmonium). Another debutant duo Hafiz Bale Khan and Rais Khan played and sang an inspired version of raga Yaman accompanied by Rafiuddin Sabri’s vociferous tabla. The brothers hail from the family of Sitar Ratna Rahimat Khan and sitar maestro Abdul Karim Khan (not the vocalist) who nurtured the been-tradition of Ustad Bande Ali Khan (the founder of Kirana gharana). The SaMaPa Yuva Ratna Samman was bestowed on Hafiz for his of efforts to revive Kirana Dharwad sitar gharana.

Day two started with debutant Waseem Ahmed Bhat, exemplifying the Soporis’ commendable aim of adding Kashmir in the tapestry of the mainland. With Dinesh Uniyal (tabla) and Lalit Sisodia (harmonium) by his side, the vocalist, who, after being groomed by Bhajan Sopori is pursuing PhD in music under the guidance of Ojesh Pratap Singh of Delhi University, etched raga Yaman in his deep, rich voice with an eye for symmetry. The rest of the evening saw Kolkatans in action. Debosmita Bhattacharya, fast rising in the male bastion as a sarod-star, remained heartwarmingly grounded while her pretty, eloquent face, oblivious of the surroundings, openly invited, cajoled, enticed, argued and pacified her chosen raga Jhinjhoti. Despite the emotional involvement, she kept picking up suitable ornaments at every given opportunity and with Mithilesh Jha’s seasoned, indulgent tabla, created euphotic climax in the form of an ornate jhala at breakneck speed. Next, vocalist Ruchira Panda elaborated raga Rageshri. With Akhtar Hasan (tabla) and Paromita Mukherjee (harmonium) as her support, this well-known exponent of Bengal’s Kotali gharana (that blends Kirana-Indore and Vishnupur) extracted the beauty of bandishes composed by her Guru, Manas Chakraborty essentially in the resonating mandra and in some fine-grained taans mapping three octaves.

Maestros in mood

As usual, coveted SaMaPa Awards took precedence to the melodic weekend at Kamani Auditorium. Pandit Ajay Pohankar, recipient of the Vitasta (life-time achievement) Award and the opening artiste, chose to sing his version of Rageshri, a late night raga, with unusual application of Gandhar (in the descend) and light embellishments. Nitin Sharma followed his guru faithfully but interestingly, Vinay Mishra’s harmonium stayed devoted to the raga and khayal form. Vinod Lele (tabla) offered steady support that facilitated some thrilling moments of rhythm-play. Pohankar’s deep melodious voice was more at ease while singing thumris.

Santoor maestro Bhajan Sopori beautifully portrayed raga Saraswati in an elaborate alap bedecked with his trademark meends and finely crafted melodic ornaments in the jod-jhala segments. Aided by Ustad Akram Khan’s tabla he chose Champakali, another raga that began with teevra madhyam and tip-toed softly in to build up powerful gatkaris in medium jhaptal, ektal and superfast teental before entering in jhala brimming with taans of varied patterns.

Day four took off with pakhawaj solo, a rare item and that too by Vishwambharnath Mishra, who, by his own admittance did not play it for almost four decades! Despite this, his 20-minute recital, albeit a little rusted and devoid of showmanship, glowed with an old world charm.

SaMaPa Nundrishi Samman recipient and next participating vocalist Malini Awasthi put the stage on fire with her brand of Purab Anga Gayaki that is heavily tilted towards the rich folk of the Ganga-Yamuna region. Her chosen thumri-dadras and ritualistic Ram-Sita-Vivah geet, tightly woven with soulful bol banav, radiated both melodic and literary beauty. Full blooded contribution and support by Ramkumar Mishra (tabla), Dharamnath Mishra (harmonium) and Murad Ali (sarangi) added to the thrill of this multihued presentation studded with superb laggis.

Santoor exponent Abhay Sopori did not let the mood get dampened. His modified santoor with richer acoustics resulting in long sustained notes went on to play an elaborate alap and sing praises of Mahakali in his self-invented melody by the same name that blends teevra madhyam in Charukeshi and komal dhaivat in Vachaspati and then infuses the essence of both in the new raga’s complex gait. Abhay, superbly supported by Rishi Upadhyay and Shubh Maharaj's equally brilliant pakhawaj and tabla, sang and played the composition followed by a very fast teental tarana. The youthful energy of the trio made heavy ornamentation and complex rhythm patterns flow easily till the last supersonic tihai.

The final evening commenced with Swaralaya samvad on tabla gharanas (concept: Vijay Shankar Mishra) featuring well-groomed young virtuosos Mansa Singh Namdhari (Punjab), Suraj Nirwan (Delhi), Saptak Sharma (Ajrara), Sachin Sharma (Lucknow), Zakir Akhtar Hussain (Farukhabad) and Anand Mishra (Banaras). Within tightly clasped time-slot, each one displayed gharana characteristics with élan. Next, the singing sitar of maestro Kushal Das immersed the evening in melodic bliss with his elaborate alap-jod and aarati jhala in raga Manomanjari – a dramatic blend of powerful Marwa and delicately beautiful Kalawati. The slow teental gatkari began with Shubh Maharaj’s commanding utthaan. However, with a meend highlighting komal nishad the Master held the reigns of delicate emotions before settling down for rhythm-play and super taan-tihais in different jatis that received suitable replies from the tabla. This intensified in fast teental gatkari and jhala and closed with a thrilling tihai.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 9:16:54 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/melodic-melange/article30105768.ece

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