The Indian Classical Music (ICM) offers to its exponents almost unlimited freedom for interpretation,variation and improvisation and hence the same raag sung or played by two artists can create diametrically different impressions.
The music lovers of Ahmedabad on Tuesday found a confirmation of this fact on the penultimate day of the Saptak Music Festival with the rendering of raag Puriya by Ustad Rashid Khan. In the earlier part of the Festival,Pandit Jasraj had enthralled the audience with the presentation of this evening raag as did the Ustad on Tuesday. But,how different they both were!
Rashid Khan,who was once described as one of the most notable torchbearers of the Hindustani classical tradition in the twenty first century by the great maestro Pandit Bhimsen Joshi,belongs to the Rampur Sahaswan khayal gharana.
This gharana is closely related to the Gwalior gharana and Rashid Khan was trained in music by his maternal grand uncle Ustad Nissar Hussain Khan.
Rashid Khan began his recital with a short introductory alap before moving to the traditional Bandish (composition) in Vilambit (slow tempo). The mood of Puriya is of serious melancholy and it has to be elaborated mainly in the Mandra Saptak (lower octave) and Madhya Saptak (middle octave) to differentiate it from Marwa and Sohni raags,which have the same structure and order of notes. This slow elaboration in the Mandra Saptak at once established the mood of the raag and the Ustad’s sonorous and forceful voice made his task even easier.
Rashid Khan made this part of the rendering even more interesting by giving it a touch of ‘musical dramatics’.
He moved up or down from one octave to the other unexpectedly and with a sudden effect. The slow tempo of the raag then achieved speed. Rashid Khan’s powerful and variegated Taankari and Sargam (solfa singing) won him applause from the audience.
The same became even more pronounced in the Ustad’s rendering of Bandishes in the Madhya and Drut laya. During these parts,Khan at times sang some intricate Taans with sheer speed stunning the audience.
However,one felt that at times while trying to sing and prolong these Taans,the Ustad was left out of breath and it made some notes completely inaudible or out of tune.
This was the only dark spot in an otherwise flawless rendering of Puriya by the Ustad.
Rashid Khan’s rendering of Puriya was followed by a Madhya laya Bandish in raag Basantbahar. He concluded his performance with a very melodious Thumri in raag Khamaj.