In Tagore’s songs of the seasons, the great fight is between monsoon and spring. But it seems — and the numbers attest to this — that the poet was more favourably disposed towards the former. On June 24, Weaver’s Studio presented “Abaar Eshechhe Aashaadh” (picture), a tribute to the songs — some about the rains and some not at all — that the wet season inspired the poet to compose. Chaitali Dasgupta, the brain behind the soirée, traced the many Aashaadhs in the poet’s life and the songs that came out of them. In between, a handful of these songs were performed by Debashish Raychaudhuri, Aniruddha Singha, Kamalini Mukherjee, Ranjini Mukherjee, Rohini Raychaudhuri and Bidipta Chakraborty.
The two songs sung by Kamalini Mukherjee, Baro bedonar moto and Tumi kon bhangoner pothe ele, did not have any monsoon-references. Both were sung in an unencumbered style, and with feeling. Abaar eshechhe Aashaadh being a song dominated by low notes, Aniruddha Singha’s voice sounded dim in places, but he gave a heart-warming rendition of Hey nirupama. Debashish Raychaudhuri was so keen to bring out the drama of Abar morey pagol kore dibe ke and Bohu juger opaar hotey that he tended to go over the top in phrases like opaar hotey. Bidipta Chakraborty’s diction was impressive, but the sharp movements from low to high notes sounded laboured in Tomar geeti jagalo smriti, which she performed with Debashish.
Ranjini Mukherjee was the pick of the evening. She used meends to beautiful effect in Megher pore megh jomechhe. The richness of her voice made Chhaya ghanaichhe boney boney evoke the feel of the season most powerfully. Rohini Raychaudhuri’s natural pitch is quite high, but in the two songs she sang, Utal dhara badal jharey and Aj kichhutei jay na moner bhaar, she sounded far from natural and prone to needless embellishment, not to mention the jumbled words in Utal dhara.
It was a very different Rohini that one got to hear at Uttam Mancha on June 26 where she teamed up with Sounak Chattopadhyay and Srikanto Acharya to create an interface between ragas and Rabindrasangeet. The unusually high pitch of her voice combined with precise and nuanced hitting of notes to renew the appeal of songs like Asha jaowar pather dhare, De lo sakhi de, Rupsagare dub diyechhi and Akash jurey shuninu oi baje. The rhythm-bound songs were arguably her best, though in a few years’ time, she should be able to inject the necessary pathos into Maran re tuhu mama and Sakhi andhare ekela ghare. Sounak, on his part, was somewhat constrained by the need to give the audience a feel of a raga within a very limited time. His training in the Kirana gharana was evident from the dexterous sargam taans, particularly in Behag and Desh. Ki dhwani baje and Esho shyamal-sundar, the two Tagore songs sung by Sounak, were competent, if not his best. But the Khamaj thumri, Daras dikhla ja, demanded a more mature treatment. The simultaneous alaap in Khamaj with Rohini’s Sakhi andhare — the original musical banter was between Tagore and Bhimrao Shastri — was an absolute treat. Acharya did an excellent job of building a narrative bridge between the two singers and making their music speak to each other.