Harjinderpal Matharu's intuitive tuning and re-tuning of his santoor on stage is reflective of the years of training he has had under the legendary Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. Matharu is a quiet in nature but a very well-spoken musician brimming with infectious confidence on stage. His chiseled projection and detailing of a raga are pregnant with melodic sensitivity. He stands out as one of the finest disciples of Pandit Sharma, apart from being the senior-most too.
Matharu opens the Darbar festival 2007 with a rare morning raga – Bhoopal Todi. In 2007, within a single year, Darbar had already emerged and established itself as the biggest south-east Asian music festival outside of India. Representing deserving and highly talented artists based in the UK thus became a greater responsibility and onus and Singh was one of the obvious choices.
Raag Bhoopal Todi is a derivative of the Bhairavi family. However, its distinctive Todi-like characteristics especially in the upper octave gives it the suffix of Todi. It is akin to the Carnatic raga Bhoopalam and uses komal Re, Ga and Dha. It omits Ma from the scale and has an ascent and descent like the Hindustani raga Bhopali with the exception that Re, Ga and Dha are all komal. Interestingly, the scale has been named ‘Bhoopal Todi’.
Matharu begins his recital with a detailed and sparkling alaap. After an elaborate expansion of the raga in all octaves, he traverses to the jor, drumming up a tight linear tempo with elan. He delivers the jhalla with immense fluency, aesthetic grace and remarkable precision.
The vilambit gat is in rupak taal, a rhythmic cycle of 7 beats followed by a drut gat in a cycle of 16-beats (teental). Singh’s lyrical rendition of both the compositions along with the vistaars and taans is riveting and full of verve and vivacity.
Shahbaz Khan strikes a fine balance with captivating improvisations and a nuanced accompaniment. Also based in the UK, Khan has become one of the most endearing accompanists to musicians because of his gripping and supportive playing.
If you are a fan of the enchanting and mystique sound of the santoor and also have a nose for refreshing, unexplored instrumentalists, we strongly recommend this concert.
Harjinderpal Singh (Santoor)
Shahbaz Hussain (Tabla)
Ranjana Ghatak (Tanpura)
Raag Bhoopal Todi, Thaat: Bhairavi, Samay: Morning
Alaap, jor, jhalla and gat in rupak taal (7 beats) and drut gat in teental (16 beats)
Recorded live at the Phoenix Hall, Leicester, UK at 9:00 am GMT at the Darbar Festival 2007