It has been a long wait of almost two decades since the world last saw them perform — at the Royal Albert Hall in London. This was an exceptional opportunity for this city to witness them again in concert, which was held at Tollygunge Club, with a live telecast on the web. Late Pandit Ravi Shankar had called his three disciples — Pandit Tarun Bhattacharya in santoor, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt in mohanveena and Pandit Daya Shankar in shehnai — the Golden Trio. They played together again (picture top), dedicating their performance to their beloved guru. The initiative was taken by the organization, Santoor Ashram. The three started with the perfect evening raga, Yaman. Following the traditional way of playing instruments, they first presented alaap, jod and jhala.
They took time to set the jovial mood of this raga and enriched their alaap with vistaars. One could almost rediscover the raga in the variable usage of kadi madhyam and nishad in the rendition by the trio. The first part was dominated by Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s mohanveena. His vistaars, with a beautiful application of mirs, especially in the lower octave, enchanted the audience. Tarun Bhattacharya’s smooth and stunning style of presenting Yaman gave the raga its full bloom in the due course of time. Initially, Daya Shankar’s shehnai was a little low, but soon he captured the mood and achieved a wonderful coordination with his co-players. Although his vistaars commenced with his natural spark, they ended abruptly, giving the audience a feeling of incompleteness. But the grandeur of santoor and mohanveena was capable enough to hide this.
In the jod portion, the trio experimented a lot with their styles — this common and popular raga flourished in their hands. The increasing tempo reached the jhala portion, where the trio played generously, rendering the notes in the lower, middle and upper octaves. But the constant missing of cues by Daya Shankar slightly disturbed the smooth pace of the performance. In tabla, Bickram Ghosh was perfect.
They went on with the same raga followed by vilambit and drut gats in teental. At the start of the vilambit composition, the shehnai seemed the sweetest. The unique and alluring vistaars of santoor as well as the sharp resonance of mohanveena moved the audience. The variations in taan presentation were enjoyable.
After this captivating performance, they shifted to different dhuns, starting with bhatiali. They also played some well-known compositions like “Vaishnav jan to tene kahiye je, peer parayi jaane re”, giving their listeners a wholesome feeling.
Recently, the Carnatic violin duo, Ganesh and Kumaresh Rajagopalan, enthralled the city with their performance at the ICCR (picture bottom). They commenced with a beautiful composition by the leading exponent of Carnatic music, Muthukumaraswamy, followed by a performance in Raga Sahana. Their alaap set the perfect ambience for this quiet raga. The vistaars, with the renditions of the key notes in the proper Carnatic style, were interesting. They also played a kriti composed by Thyagaraja in Ragam Hamsanadam.
The flow of vistaars became lively in the critical cycle of the playing of the mridangam and the tabla. Their smooth and melodious composition in Raga Bhairavi touched the audience. Their experimentation with the taals made the accompanists, Subhankar Banerjee on tabla and Patri Satish Kumar on mridangam, give a rocking performance. But the length of the compilation of the taals and tunes also tested the patience of the audience.