The Telegraph
Saturday , January 19 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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In this blooming season of Indian classical music, the city got a rare opportunity to witness a star-studded weekend in Nazrul Mancha, where the Swara Samrat Festival was organized in the memory of Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Pandit Ravi Shankar. The first whole-night session commenced with the performance of the santoor player, Shivkumar Sharma. He played alaap, jor and jhala, and later three compositions in jhamptaal, teentaal and ardha in Raga Rageshwari. He captured the pace of the raga in the jor and jhala portions. He concluded his performance with a dhoon. After this performance, the kathak maestro, Birju Maharaj, took the stage. With his expression and perfection, he proved why, till now, he is unparalleled in his arena. He made a simple teentaal presentation extraordinary through his visualization, variety in thaats, complex tihais, tatkars and parans. His famous disciple, Saswati Sen, gave a brief and enjoyable performance of dhamaar. Panditji presented wonderful gats, through which he picturized nature, a dancing peacock, the phases of human life, conjugality and love relationships.

Then it was the turn of another doyen of Indian classical music, Hariprasad Chaurasia, who started his recital with Raga Jhinjhoti. After a wonderful alaap and jor, he shifted to a composition in Rupak, with a beautiful vistaar and taan. He also played Haimavati, a South Indian raga, with great care. He finished his performance with a heart-touching kirtan dhoon. Shubhankar Banerjee’s tabla was also good. At the time of transition of night into morning, Jasraj presented Raga Gunkali, creating the perfect ambience. The clarity of his voice, the powerful way of his taan presentation in vilmabit ektaal and drut teentaal created the magic of this raga. The first session of this festival ended with some of his famous bhajans.

The second day started with a sarod performance by the son and the grandson of Ali Akbar Khan — Ashish Khan and Siraj Khan. They commenced with Raga Bhimpalasi. The transition of this raga from jor to jhala by Ashish Khan was excellent: the vistaar of Siraj Khan was sparkling too. Their compositions in Raga Madhuvanti, with excellent tabla accompaniment by Swapan Chowdhury, were very attactive. After them, Girija Devi presented vilambit ektaal and drut teentaal in Raga Yaman Kalyan. She also presented a thumri, dadra and tappa. The strength of her voice and tappa presentation in Raga Poorvi caught the audience’s attention.

The chief attraction of the finale was the tabla maestro, Zakhir Hussain. Through his awesome performance, he was able to prove why he has become a world famous name for his generation and genre. Simple teentaal bols were presented in an unique and unpredictable way. He also played some excellent laharas and tripalli, bols in Peshwari style. He presented different vignettes of human life such as traffic jams or friendship that touched the heart. His extraordinary presentation of the tandava of Lord Shiva — with the damaru, shankha, thunderstorm and rainy season all brought out through the tabla — mesmerized the audience. Also on tabla, Anindyo Chattopadhyay, Samar Saha and Ramkumar Mishra accompanied the artists perfectly.