The ustads whip up a storm

For Chennai’s rasikas, the Naad-Ninaad jugalbandi featuring two front-ranking Hindustani musicians Ustad Rashid Khan (vocal, Rampur-Sahaswan gharana) and Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan (sitar, Etawah/Imdadkhani gharana) came as a bonanza.

Given that the two stalwarts’ performances in Chennai are becoming increasingly rare and that their concert in tandem was a first for the city, audience expectation ran high.

Magic permeated the air from the word go, as Rashid introduced raag Purya Kalyan in his solo, in the first segment. Gifted with a rich timbre that arrests listeners’ attention, Rashid established an instant emotional connect. Proof of his vocal dexterity came through vilambit phrases that skimmed the madhya saptak shadja-madhyam suite to plumb the mandra saptak depths. The plaintive, sustained, tivra madhyam and the nishadh went beyond their roles as repositories of pathos, to become take-off and landing points for satin-smooth sancharas.

Solfege laid the ground for madhya laya and threw light on different pancham-varja approaches to the madhyam, with striking, contrasting hues emerging when shadja-varja phrasing alternated with rare shadja-inclusive ones.

A surprise was thrown in with two rapid taans that would normally have been reserved for a later point, while the dhrut sparkled with sargams tinted with unique touches.

Prepared as you were for the star vocalist’s signature taans, the first in the series caught you off-guard. Though a few more rapid-fire salvos followed, it appeared that the artiste was reining in his energies, saving the best for last. Nagnath Adgaonkar’s vocal support sustained the mood.

A silvery cascade of notes announced raag Charukesi as Shahid Parvez launched into a solo alap, jod and two compositions (rupak taal and teen taal) in segment two. Every musician dreams of arriving at, of actually being at the heart of a raag, right from the opening phrase. Shahid Parvez lives that dream time and again, in concert after concert, with enviable consistency. His transcendental Charukesi was an affirmation of the fact. Sitar and soul became one, merging in a seamless flow of musical ideation and impeccable execution. The gharana’s famed single-stroke-generated meend, encompassing multiple notes laden with ultra-fine gamaks, distinctly vocal in character, lingered in the air long after each phrase ended, charging each pause with the raag’s essence — a master’s touch. The madhya laya featured delicate glissades and pancham-varja prayogas. Shahid’s dhrut is known to be an organically evolving trope. Here, against a ceaseless, soothing background thrum, a single plucked ‘ni’ succeeded by a ‘dha ni’ defined atmospherics. A distinct touch of whimsy coloured the ‘ddm nnd rg’ start of the composition. And when the rain of taans came, replete with forceful twangs and crashing chords, the veteran was in complete control.

In segment three, the two artistes joined forces to present a scintillating raag Desh. Hinging on the powerful imagery crafted around the nishadh, Rashid’s iconic rendition of ‘Karam Kar’ soared on the wings of shadja-varja sancharas, complemented by Shahid’s vision. What a pleasure it was to experience the tantrakari of the Imdadkhani school as pace quickened in the Desh tarana!

Even as Rashid’s lightning taans stunned and Allarakha Kalawant (sarangi), Jyoti Guha (harmonium) and Subhankar Banerjee (tabla) whipped up a storm, the laser-cut precision of Shahid’s layakari scored a bull’s eye in each fusillade.

Anticipating listeners’ choice, Rashid swung into ‘Yaad Piya Ki Aane’. Embellished by Shahid’s sometimes delicate, sometimes impassioned flourishes, the composition cruised through a dreamscape brushed with yearning.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 12:18:17 AM |

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