The first night of the 5th Bengal Classical Music Festival brought the music-loving audience of Dhaka at the Army Stadium on Thursday night, as the world's biggest festival of classical music set sail under a pristine crescent moon.
Vidushi Girija Devi, one of the senior-most Hindustani classical singers at age 87, is respectfully and adorably addressed as “Ammajaan” by many music maestros. The artiste started off her musical voyage with Raga Jogkauns (intermingling of Raga Jog and Raga Chandrakauns). The pristine melody of vilambit bandish “Jhanjhariya Jhanake Kaise Kaar Aayoon Tore Paas” coupled with adorable taan, mesmerising bolbut and emotive pukar styled by Devi mingled with Murad Ali Khan's sarangi recital. The maestro gave a profound rendition of drut bandish “Bohuta Dina Bittiyen Aaj Hoon Na Aaye Mori Laal”, incorporating melodious a-kar taan, murki, meend and tehai. Pt. Gopal Mishra produced restless rhythms on tabla.
The prima donna of the Benaras and Senia traditions, later performed a Banaras Gharana khas thumri set on the sweetness of Raga Mishra Khamaj. The vocalist depicted a feminine plea through her melodic rendition of the excerpts “Itni Araj Mori Maan”, and moved on to performing a Panjabi tappa “Miyan Nazre Nehi Adawe” and wrapped up her part with presenting a dadra “Diwana Ki Shyam Kya Jadu Dara”. Sunanda Sharma on vocal support also got a chance to showcase her skills.
Ustad Aashish Khan came next to take the stage and began his sarod recital with a grave melancholic raga Darbari Kanada. Pt. Bickram Ghosh on tabla accompanied the Ustad. Khan was born in a small yet influential princely state of British India, where his legendary grandfather Ustad Allauddin Khan hailing from Brahmanbaria in present-day Bangladesh, founded the Senia Maihar Gharana. His training later continued under the guidance of his father Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and aunt Annapurna Devi.
Aashish Khan later performed Raga Chandranandan where he showcased various combination and permutation of musical notes and wrapped up his recital with a Mishra Bhairavi dhun set on dadra and teentaal.
Dhaka music lovers experienced Jasrangi, a unique offering of classical music initiated by Pandit Jasraj, for the first time. In a Jasrangi, two artistes perform two distinct ragas simultaneously, set on the same bandish and taal. Dr Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande and Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar were the featured vocalists, who performed Jasrangi set on two ragas -- Shudh Dhaibat Lalit and Puria Dhaneshree respectively. The pancham (Pa) of Puria Dhaneshree was the Shadaj (Sa) of Shudh Dhaibat Lalit, a raga pertaining to Thaat Marwa. The most significant aspect of the performance was the application in the rendition of the artiste duo's coming on to shom on Gandhar (Ga) of Puria Dhaneshree and Madhyam (Ma) of Shudh Dhaibat Lalit. The duo's exquisite performances of vilambit bandish “Dhundhana Jaoon Kitahoon Chhip Gaye” and drut bandish “Mairi Shaane Shaam” coupled with a rare variation of taan presentation was fantastic with a mellifluous harmonium sangat and riveting tabla rhythms. The singer duo later performed another Jasrangi bandish “Mora Re Manwa Tumhi San Laga”, based on two ragas Bhoopali and Durga.
Legendary Carnatic violinist Dr L Subramaniam was the ultimate performer of the night. He first performed the Carnatic Raga Mohanam (corresponding to Hindustani Raga Bhoopali) elaborating improvisations on five, seven and 11 notes per beat, followed by a kriti. The maestro later recited a melancholic Raga Chandrapriya where he showcased ragam alapana, tanam, improvisational recital (pallavi) and a short kriti. Incredibly fast fingers playing notes in three octaves almost at once, and presentation of polyphonic harmonic resonance was a hallmark of his playing, much to the fascination of the audience.
Earlier, the fifth edition of the Bengal Classical Music Festival was set off with a vivacious dance presentation by noted Bangladeshi dancer-choreographer Sharmila Banerjee and her troupe “Nritya Nandan”, presenting dance pieces demonstrating various classical dance forms in a set titled “Robi Karokajjol Nrityomalika”.
A flute and violin jugalbandi performance followed, by two festival debutants -- accomplished flautist Pravin Godkhindi and violinist Ratish Tagde. Their performance of Raga Maru Bihag and the melodious, uplifting Raga Hansadhwani set the mood for the audience.
Performing tonight at Bengal Classical Music Fest
Group sarod recital by Bengal Parampara Sangeetalay
Carnatic flute by Shashank Subramanyam
Khayal vocals by Dr. Prabha Atre
Tabla by Pt. Anindo Chatterjee
Dhrupad vocals by Pt. Uday Bhawalkar
Sitar by Pt. Sanjoy Bandopadhyay
Khayal vocals by Ustad Rashid Khan