Undiscerning crowd a spoilsport

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  • Published 11.03.05

Sitar maestro Shahid Parvez and vocalist Parveen Sultana were presented by the Calcutta Club on its lawns last Sunday evening in a programme titled ?Vasant Darbar?. After a member the audience (called a ?discerning crowd? by the announcer) showed appaling lack of taste by getting Parveen Sultana to sing her version of the Sadra Bhawani Dayani in the morning raga Bhairavi as an encore, Parvez played with more than half the seats on the lawn empty. Though his was the only recital really worth listening to that evening, the ?crowd? of undiscerning people either headed for the open-air bar and food stalls after Sultana?s recital, or went away.

Sultana?s khayals in Puria Dhaneshri displayed unimaginative melodic progression and handling of phrases, lack of clarity in the faster taankari, several instances of wavering pitch and shortage of structural finesse in the taans and sarg-ams that were more or less in tune. The drut khayal in Rage-shree was worse. If a few listeners erred in asking her to sing a Bhairavi composition at night, she, being a classical musician, erred by entertaining them. Skilled tabla playing by Ananda Gopal Banerjee was the best part of the recital.

Parvez?s 15-minute alap in Bihag presented the basic features of the raga without much development, but the 16-minute jod warmed things up with excellent gamaks, gamak taans and khayal-style taankari. The reverse jhala work at the end too was of the same class. In the vilambit teental gatkari, there was classic bol-vistar and mukhda layakari, followed by a fast ekhara taankari that was structured for rhythmic relevance as well. Young tabla accompanist Subhajyoti Guha responded very well to the layakari. There was both technical competence and musicianship in his individual rounds as well. Breathtaking fast taankari made the 8-minute gatkari in medium tempo sitarkhani gatkari a treat to the ears.

Parvez had rightly gauged the quality of what remained of the ?discerning crowd.? He seemed to be playing coolly and professionally but mainly with his fingers and not his heart. It was lucky for the gathering that he does not have the temperament of his late uncle, Ustad Vilayat Khan. The ustad once stopped playing and walked out of a recital in Mumbai because the Governor of Maharastra, who was sitting right before him, happened to be talking.