Sanju Sahai and Ravi Shankar Upadhyay give a stunning performance, merging the tabla and pakhawaj – the two fundamental percussion instruments of Hindustani Indian classical music into a spectacular duet. In a light-hearted announcement to the audience, Sahai informs that although they had never performed together, they are at least neighbours. Sahai represents the Benares gharana of tabla from the spiritual city of Varanasi in India and Upadhyay comes from Allahabad, another vibrant, historical city of India steeped in music and culture, about 120 kms west of Varanasi.
The recital commences with the heart-melting strains on the sarangi of Sandeep Mishra. Reciting a ‘Ganesh Padhan’ (rhythmic composition in praise of Lord Ganesha), Upadhyay demonstrates it on his pakhawaj with impressive expression and a mighty sound.
This is followed by a regal introduction in pure Benares style by Sahai, who draws instant applause from the audience for his impeccable delivery.
With each new composition coming in alternatively from Upadhyay and Sahai, the concert podium emits the prowess of both the musicians’ passion exposing a wide spectrum of exquisite material from their respective repertoires.
They meticulously accentuate all the elements of a percussion duet in the Indian tradition – the introduction, the impressive choice of compositions, the crystal clarity of execution and their compatibility on stage that makes it sound more like music and nowhere like a duel.
The climax of this performance is marked with vibrant ‘padhans’ (recitation of Indian percussion syllables), the dexterity of their fingers and the tremendous speed and richness with which they deploy the compositions, some dating back to several centuries.
Sanju Sahai (tabla)
Ravi Shankar Upadhyay (pakhawaj)
Sandeep Mishra (sarangi)
Debipriya Das & Ranjana Ghatak (tanpuras)
Tabla and Pakhawaj Duet in Teental