Music

Ragas evoke the rains

Rakesh Chaurasia and Anil Srinivasan, performing at Banyan Tree's Barkha Ritu. Photo: R. Ravindran   | Photo Credit: R RAVINDRAN

There is a certain comfort level in the usual. There is anticipation of the good quality and the assurance, that the artists in question will enthrall the audiences. And given the choice of artists for that evening the expectation was fulfilled during the thematic presentation by Banyan Tree’s ‘Barkha Ritu,’ at the Music Academy on September 12.

For 13 years, Banyan Tree has been putting together some of the best artists in various permutations. The seasons are used to bring about the mood and the music and some of the best concerts have been in this combination.

‘Barkha Ritu,’ which featured Rakesh Chaurasia, Anil Srinivasan and T.M. Krishna, was in two segments. The first one was in a piano - flute synergy and the second, a vocal recital. Both were brief and both sets of artists held the audience’s attention easily.

In the piano-flute recital, there was a deep adherence to the idea of the Barkha Ritu or the monsoon – which is more possible in the Hindustani style, the Malhar being the most notable one. A piece in Bhimpalas followed by Dharanshri Thillana wove serenity and melody effortlessly. It didn’t seem to matter that the playing had to be restricted, given the time constraint, as a raga like Malhar can deepen and soften in close to an hour. It was more like glimpses of the magical proportion of how instruments can combine and draw out the essence of the raga.

Rakesh Chaurasia, a consummate artist, whose flute in combination with the fascinating tabla playing by Satyajit Talwalkar, drew visual imageries of what it would be like during the monsoons; of Krishna dancing with his gopis - and much more that flooded the mind while listening to it. In a soft unobtrusive manner, Anil Srinivasan played the piano. He generally ensures sensitivity when it comes to blending with other artists, and that day he displayed flashes of poignancy adding to the holistic approach.

The second half belonged to T.M. Krishna – who in his inimitable style, explained his approach to what Barkha Ritu meant to him. He chose compositions and ragas, not necessarily associated with the rains or the monsoon season in the widely understood manner - but put his own ideas into them. For instance, the first Tyagaraja kriti, ‘Venugana’ (Kedaragowle), describes Krishna. And Krishna is often associated with ‘nature’ and therefore rain is part of it. He was born on a dark and rainy night. The picture is therefore drawn.

A ‘contemporary’ piece, ‘Kathamaham’ (RK Shriramkumar), as described by him, dwelt on nature and creation, was in beautiful Bhairavi with a wholesome alapana and the Tagore song, ‘Esho Shyeamolu Shundoro’ in Desh was beautiful in its rendition.

Akkarai Subbulakshmi on the violin was a perfect combination for T.M. Krishna’s voice and played with restraint, but not lacking in passion. The other accompaniments, Melakaveri Balaji (mridangam) and Anirudh Athreya (ganjira) completed the ‘picture’. The evening indeed was about imagery created through music!

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 6:27:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/music/ragas-evoke-the-rains/article6422761.ece

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