Dhaka Music enthusiasts and connoisseurs were in a musical high. Instrumental recitals and vocal renditions coupled with stirring Kathak performances by Pandit Birju Maharaj and his main disciple Saswati Sen went on, one after another, on the penultimate night (December 1) of 'Bengal-ITC SRA Classical Music Festival 2012', held at Bangladesh Army Stadium in Dhaka.
Vocalist Shashank Maktedar set off the musical
flight with a rendition of Raga Desh. Abir Hossain's euphoric dhun, set on Raga Puria Dhaneshree, augmented the delight.
Accomplished Bangladeshi vocalist Priyanka Gope created a rainbow of notes and taan, based on Raga Rageshree. Priyanka's vilambit and drut bandish performances (on vilambit ek taal and teen taal respectively) were outstanding.
Bangladeshi sitarist Ebadul Huq rightly chose Raga Hemanta to perform at the festival. Raga Hemanta was created by Ustad Allauddin Khan; the entire festival has been dedicated to his memory. Ebadul Huq was tutored in the Senia Maihar Gharana, founded by Ustad Allauddin Khan.
A legend unfolded on stage, as Vidushi Girija Devi disseminated the notes of a romantic Raga, Behag. Her sonorous rendition of vilambit bandish, set on vilambit ek taal, articulated pining for love. The maestro later presented a thumri set on Raga Mishra Khamaj, and a dadra created by the Benaras Gharana.
Another iconic figure, Pandit Birju Maharaj made the Dhaka audience sway with his lyrical presentation. The accompanying vocalist, tabla artiste, sarangi and tanpura players weaved a garland of many melodious ragas. Showcasing his mesmerising prowess on taal and bol, Maharaj danced to the melody of divinity.
“Our body changes with the passage of time but not the taal that is on and will go on, maintaining its own course,” said the pandit during his performance. Saswati Sen took the stage to first perform a composition on dhamar (14 beats) and later superbly acted out a mythical tale of Ahalya's coming to life again with the divine touch of Lord Ram.
Pandit Birju Maharaj together with Vidushi Girija Devi presented a jugalbandi chaiti -- “Bairan Re Koyelia Tori Boli Na Sohaye”. Legends are made of moments like these.
The programme was supposed to wrap up by midnight, yet five more performances were yet to be showcased. Those who had to leave the maestros that night, missed out. Those staying back were blessed with superb performances: “Charukeshi” recital by sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee; divine rhythms on tabla by Pandit Kumar Bose; and vocal performances by Arshad Ali Khan, Kumar Mardur and Vidushi Subhra Guha.
Purbayan Chatterjee produced a breathtaking symphony on strings, set on Raga Jogkaunsh (intermingling of raga Chandrakaunsh and Jog). His alaap, ragdari decorated with murki (ornamentation) were dynamic. The artiste also presented a khamaj dhun.
Highlights of Arshad Ali Khan's rendition of Raga Lalit were: ragdari, making idioms by using notes, bahelowa, taankari, speedy bol-taan, aakar and pukaar.
Pandit Kuamr Bose, whose ancestral roots are in Bangladesh (Barisal and Jessore), made his tabla roar like a Royal Bengal Tiger. He produced magical rhythms coupled with sounds that created the impression of an earthquake occurring under the sea.