The Hindu November Fest

It was ‘beyond’ music

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The Classical and Beyond concert at The Hindu November Fest was a star–studded performance

The three-day The Hindu November Fest opened with ‘Classical and Beyond’, a coming together of the stars of Hindustani music. The auditorium was jam packed with an attentive and benevolent audience sitting with undiminished enthusiasm for the entire length of the concert in anticipation of what these great masters would unfold. The star–studded stage had the inimitable maestro Taufiq Qureshi, the stunningly gifted Kaushiki Chakraborty, the extraordinary Satyajit Talwalkar, Rakesh Chaurasia, Purbayan Chatterjee, and Sudhanshu Gharpure.

From the word go the stress of the concert was ‘beyond’. In fact, during a moment in the concert when each of them were rambling away, Kaushiki remarked laughing: “This is what we call beyond!” And in yet another give away moment, Purbayan jested: “This piece is a tribute to Kaushiki’s dress!” The mood of the concert was one of entertainment; and those who went to the concert to listen to these classical musicians, were left mildly surprised – they had transformed into entertainers. The whole atmosphere was light and fluffy, bearing the air of lounge music.

‘Pace of Mind’, the very first piece which was a group rendition, incidentally had its opening phrases in Rag Jog. But since it was dedicated to “Bangalore’s Traffic”, it went all over the place, roped in and discarded ragas with super speed: it was noisy and chaotic. But conditioned as we are to the frenzied road scene, we did give them a thundering applause. Kaushiki called the next piece ‘Amazing Marwa’ – this jugalbandi between Rakesh Chaurasia (flute) and Purbayan Chatterjee (sitar) opened to measured, and leisurely phrases of Marwa. But to touch even the contours of this intense raga, it is a challenge – the two artistes captured the notes attractively, but Marwa seemed far beyond. Why was rag Sohini playing out itself every now and then? But Marwa had its advantages, the star revealed himself – Satyajit Talwalkar on tabla was remarkable. His rendition was marked with such passionate intensity and academic commitment that one could hardly miss the visible absorption in his music, despite all the things that were happening around him.

Kaushiki is a star and she richly deserves her stardom. Her rendition of Shyam Kalyan however, showcased her stardom more than her music. It was a complete exercise of intellect and virtuosity, in which Kaushiki’s innate and rich musical sensibility seemed lost. Of course, her genius sparkled in several instances, but she seemed to privilege ‘buddhi’ over ‘bhaav’. How remarkably she executed Suresh Talwakar’s composition which was set to intricate play of rhythm! The sensuous thumri ‘Rangi Sari Gulabiya’ started beautifully, but eventually got drowned in noise. This concert for sure, was neither for musical economy or reflection.

It takes a legend to salvage something that is losing its way. The quiet, but incredible Taufiq Qureshi rendered a 20-minute memorable solo (16 beat cycle) on the djembe. It always seems that Taufiq Qureshi’s mind and soul are embedded in his fingers. In him, virtuosity is never separate from his overall musical narrative – it is deeply intertwined into it. The patterns, interpretations and sounds that he extracted from this African instrument was mind–boggling not just for the audience but even for the connoisseurs on stage. One just felt reverence for this one of a kind artiste go up by several notches.

When the idea is to entertain it maybe farfetched to look for great music. Or maybe not. The two percussionists firmly retained their connection with music and elevated entertainment to rasanubhava, as it happens in all true art experiences.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2020 1:05:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/november-fest/it-was-beyond-music/article20570692.ece

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