The father, the sons and their moving music

USTAD AMJAD Ali Khan's recital is always an event, more than a performance. More so when his talented sons accompany him. Hype there is, aplenty, but quality too, in equal measure. This triumvirate enthralled a Kochi audience at the Avenue Centre, Saturday last.

The cause was equally worthy, for fund collection of Raksha, an institution that caters to children with multiple handicaps. "It did something to you, the way the music entered your whole system. I went there because it was a very publicised event, and Amjad Ali Khan is a national figure in music. But I came away, realising that he had so much to give to the common man who is not exactly a connoisseur of music too," said Omana, untutored in either Carnatic or Hindustani music.

Three ragas, nearly three hours of sarod, sent many keen music enthusiasts into raptures. Lalit Gowri, Bagesri and Keervani ragas. The compositions merged into the ragas and vice versa. Lalit Gowri had Khan Saab in an introspective mood, as it was his solo. "It was a sketchy alaap, never reaching out to a full raagavistara, preparing you for the youthful exuberance ahead. But the subtle difference said it all: While Amjad Ali Khan played, the sarod reached the highest point of similarity with the human voice," said K. P. Panicker, a great lover of Hindustani music.

The father, the sons and their moving music

Bagesri, the evening raga and the central piece of the show, gave the sons precedence over the father-cum guru. The youthful mood of the siblings was infectious as it permeated down to the audience. The ear said it was classical, while the eye said it could well be pop. The spontaneous repartees with the tabalist, Rashid Mustafa, were what many of the younger crowd enjoyed. "One never knew Hindustani could be this exhilarating to the uninitiated," said a teenager who `had come for the heck of it' with her parents.

"Yes, he did move the audience. The recital was catastrophic, in the sense that it moved the audience to an extent beyond which it simply could not. It is a fairly new kind of idiom to us Southerners and the feeling it evoked in a major part of the audience was inexplicable," said Manjoo Menon, closely associated with Raksha. The recital was held in memory of his brother Raghava. R. Menon, a nationally known music critic who is no more.

The piece de resistance was the last `trigalbandi' in which the two generations became one, the mridangist Balakrishna Kamath and Rashid Mustafa following in harmony. "The bridging of the South and North via music is on," remarked Mr. Menon after the recital.

Said Laila Raveendran, a Carnatic singer, "Usually, however good it might be, Hindustani music tends to be repetitive to us, but here, it was so different. It was a wonderful experience. We could identify with it because, one of the raga chosen, Bagesri, is our own Vagheswari and we felt one with it. The percussion was great too," she said.

The father, the sons and their moving music

For those who were not really much into music, and had come because it was fashionable to do so, the sheer, vivacious combo of costumes and looks led them on to the music that no one could not but imbibe. And the news is that commercial Kochi is fast turning culture-savvy for halls are full when classical concerts are on. There was a time not so long ago when K. V. Narayanaswamy sang to a `select' audience of around 20 people at a Kochi hall. Not so anymore.

All the five performers, sarod, mridangam and tabla, got their due share of the limelight. The audience went home, satiated with music, the beauty of it all and the hype. They went back energised, with not a moment in that three-hour concert that made them tired. That is why it was an event.

Pics. By H. Vibhu

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