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DELIGHTFULLY DIFFICULT
Music

Ayaan Ali Khan, the younger son of the sarod maestro, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, was featured in a solo sarod recital at Kala Mandir on January 2 at a programme organized by the Institute of Child Health to raise funds for a proposed thalassaemia foundation and blood bank.

The recital opened with an hour-long portrayal of Shri raga. Using swifter than usual phrase development, the alap evoked the atmosphere and mood of this heavy and rather difficult raga expertly in about 17 minutes, and Ayaan rounded it off with some gamak taans before starting the jod. Here he quickly went into lar-lapets and then taankari, and played both with skill and artistry.

The vilambit gatkari was in the 15 matra tala, Pancham Sawari. With expert support and response from Anindo Chatterjee on the tabla, Ayaan played deria and chowdoon layakari and ekhara taan-based rhythmic figures with flourish. He also played faster figures in drut jod style and the final bolkari very well. There were excellent bol-ang taan-toda and melodious jhala in the drut teental gatkari.

It was about 10 minutes past eight in the evening when Ayaan started his alap in Darbari Kanada, a raga that is normally played later in the night. Before starting, he acknowledged this and said that since this was the festive season, a little easing of the raga time table would not be out of place. Opening with a five-minute aochar that evoked the raga in its full grandeur, Ayaan started off tar-paran, with Anindo Chatterjee accompanying in quasi-pakhawaj style on a low-pitched tabla. This ended with rousing larant played around a well-known drut teental gat by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

The next item was gatkari in Kirwani in a tala of 9¼ matras. Ayaan played it with joyous dexterity. To listeners who may have got used to talas ending with a half beat, this one ending with a quarter beat could have come as some kind of surprise. But the only difference here is that the ¼ beat is added to the previous one, quadrupled and played as 5 instead of the ½ beat being added to previous one, doubled and played as 3. Such talas are good sport but divert attention from music in its entirety.

The next piece was a drut teental ragamala centred on what seemed to be a mixture of an old Pilu gat transposed to a kind of Mishra Gara and Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan’s famous Mishra Gara gat. Ayaan played it with musicianship, weaving in ragas like Sughrai and Adana. He then played a brief drut ada chowtal gat in Sahana and an ati drut teental gat in Pilu with forays into Kafi and Mian ki Malhar.

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