Each raga evokes a definite emotion or rasa, but according to Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, this concept is relative. He states that the emotions of a raga are subject to the mood, temperament and personal taste of the musician who is interpreting it. Before he begins his first item Puriya Kalyan, he leaves it upon his audience to comprehend and experience the flavours of the raga.
Pandit Sharma introduces Puriya Kalyan with a sparkling alap. Treading the ‘Kalyan ang’, he first explores the lower octave. He bridges the lower and middle octaves with the lower Ni and its corresponding notes - komal Re, Ga, teevra Ma and Pa. Maintaining a serene flow of melody, he touches the upper octave with fluttering strokes, expressing the upper Sa and its neighbouring notes with dynamic modulation. He plays a vibrant jod, blending the Kalyan and Puriya Dhanashree characteristics of the raga with majesty and charm.
The madhyalay composition in Jhaaptal takes off from the 8th beat, giving it an elegant spin. Ramkumar Mishra plays a beautiful introduction and fiery improvisations in between, producing each bol with strong, tuneful strokes. Pandit Sharma details the raga with a meandering gait, displaying laykari in clusters of 5 and 7 notes in the 10-beat cycle. Puriya Kalyan is concluded with a another gat in drut Ektaal.
The second piece is a lighter melody, a unique one that pivots around the honey-sweet raga Kaushik Dhwani and streams out in different directions imbibing flavours from other ragas. The first composition is set to a lilting 8-beat cycle called Keherwa. Pandit Kumar brings traces of Pahadi, Piloo and Khamaj into this composition apart from transitioning into a few other ragas. Mishra’s tabla support subtly binds the folksy, light-hearted elements of this piece.
The composition transitions into Teental from Keherwa, entering a classical territory from folk. With sharp, radiant and lyrical improvisations, Pandit Sharma turns this part into a raagmala, stringing together phrases from Kedar, Basant, Behag, Gorakh Kalyan, Hamsadhwani, Miyan ki Malhar and Kafi. Mishra amalgamates this part with great anticipation and clarity.
Amidst a thunderous applause, Pandit Sharma returns to perform another piece upon the persistent request of the audience. He tunes the strings of the santoor and begins a folk song in Pahadi from the Jammu region of northern India. Tracing out an exquisite alap, he brings home nostalgic folk imageries of that region through this tune. His distinctive hammering technique sustains notes to create an aural delight.
Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (santoor)
Satyajit Talwalkar (tabla)