At a three-day live festival, exponents of the instrument showcased the Maihar gharana’s specialities
The last major live music festival before India went into lockdown again was held in Kolkata in the first week of April. Held over three evenings, the festival only featured sarod solos, and was organised by the Mumbai-based Annapurna Devi Foundation. Each concert was special; each performer determined to pay fitting tribute to the truly venerated master-musician Annapurna Devi. Kolkata to date has the best sarod-makers, and the city’s link with celebrated sarodiyas is age-old. Nityanand Haldipur, flautist and festival organiser, said, “We would like to make this an annual event.”
The festival opened with Shiraz Ali Khan’s concert. Grand nephew of Annapurna Devi, he is the fourth generation sarodiya of the illustrious family. He was accompanied on the tabla by none other than Bickram Ghosh. Starting with the early evening raag, Madhuvanti, in which he essayed a compact aalap and jor, Shiraz went on to play a Maihar gharana speciality raag, Pahari Jhinjhoti. He played two compositions; and there was a pleasing sawaal jawab with Bickram Ghosh. He ended with a brief Mishra Kafi.
The concluding recital of the first evening was by Maihar sarod player, Pt. Partho Sarothy, disciple of Ustad Dhyanesh Khan and Pt. Ravi Shankar. Appropriately, he played completely in the dhrupad style, a characteristic feature of his gharana, displaying his prodigious taalim (training). The raag he chose to portray expansively, Kaunsi Kanhra, was a favourite of Ma Annapurna. A combination of Darbari Kanhra and Malkauns, Partho treated it with magnificent gravity. The nearly one-hour ‘aalap jor jhala’ included pakhawaj-style accompaniment on the tabla by Sanjay Adhikari, reminiscent of sarod recitals of yore. Surprisingly, and laudably, Partho Sarothy concluded with raag Malkauns, an unusual choice given that he had just played a detailed Kaunsi Kanhra . Again, his treatment of the raag was impeccable, as one expects from a musician of his stature, with the same mellow, straight meends without needing to impart a lighter feel to the notes.
Pt. Prattyush Banerji
The second evening started with a tribute by Senia Shahjahanpur’s Pt. Prattyush Banerji, disciple of Pt. Buddhadev Dasgupta. An innovative composer in addition to being one of the torchbearers of his gharana, Prattyush’s recital was exceedingly lyrical. Despite his mastery of rare raags, Prattyush chose to play the oft-heard Puriya Dhanashri, proving that you can impress even with a common raag. During the ‘aalap jor jhala’ one was frequently moved; his gharana’s trademark ‘ladant’ before the jhala was vigorous and crystal clear. The 11-beat composition was another departure from his gharana’s usual teen taal gats, and Pt. Abhijit Banerji lent expert tabla accompaniment. . Incidentally, this versatile musician is a disciple of Annapurna Devi. Prattyush concluded with raag Hameer; again with a individualistic but totally authentic vision of the raag. While retaining the stamp of his training, Prattyush showed how the best musicians are not mere copyists.
A rare presence
Maihar gharana’s Pt. Basant Kabra, who trained under his father Pt. Damodar Lal Kabra and Annapurna Devi, is rarely heard these days, but this reclusive musician from Jodhpur did not disappoint.
Pt. Basant Kabra
His solid, non-gimmicky music also showed his immense tayyari. Playing Aiman Kalyan, in just a few minutes he got under the skin of the raag, presenting it in all its hues; his subtle use of the shudha madhyam truly delightful. The passion and vigour he brought to the ‘jor’ and ‘jhala’, the drama in his playing, the authentic note phrases were testimony to his expertise. The concluding raag Pilu was sparkling; the ‘drut gat’ a traditional Senia composition.
The last day started with Pt. Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar. A disciple of Ustad Bahadur Khan and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, he is the most popular sarod exponent of the Maihar gharana today. Pt. Tejendra presented the rare early evening ‘jor’ raag Lalita Gauri. Creditably essaying this relatively small raag over 40 minutes, he showcased its signature vairagya with finesse. Raags Bihag and Lalita Sohini followed.
The concluding artiste was expectedly the senior most, Pt. Narendra Nath Dhar, representing the Senia Shahjahanpur (Pt. Radhika Mohan Maitra) and Senia Gwalior (Ustad Amjad Ali Khan) gharanas. Though he chose Shuddha Nat, which is not really associated with his gurus, he explored it succinctly, protecting it from overtones of similar raags without over-emphasising its characteristic phrases. His signature bold stroke work was evident; his ‘ulta jhala’ a delight — clearly age has not caught up with him. In Jaijaiwanti, the maestro played a beautifully traditional yet different Senia composition, and concluded with a gat in Bhairavi.
There was some excellent tabla accompaniment by Pt. Subhankar Banerji, Pt. Arup Chattopadhyay and Anubrata Chatterjee, each with his distinctive baaj.
The concerts are available on the Annapurna Devi Foundation website and YouTube channel.
The Delhi-based author writes on Hindustani music.
Source: Read Full Article