During the earlier part of the 19th century, the sursingar was born in India as a modified version of the seniya rebab. The moisture-laden air of the intense Indian monsoons affected the gut strings and membrane-covered sound-box of the seniya rebab, taking away the crispness of its sound. Thereafter, the membrane was replaced by a wooden sheet and the gut strings were substituted for metallic ones. A metallic plate was placed over the finger board thus creating a grander, malleable, deep and resonant tone that could withstand the assault of the damp weather.
In this concert, Joydeep Ghosh performs Raag Shyam Kalyan followed by a short rendition of Raag Jog. He is one of the very few exponents of this rare instrument which he learned from three gurus in Kolkata - Anil Roychoudhury, Radhika Mohan Moitra and Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta. Later on, he learned raga-elaboration from Bimalendu Mukherjee, an exponent of the Imdadkhani gharana.
Strumming up a patient alap with warm, sustained sounds on the sursringar, Ghosh bends the notes effortlessly, playing meends and murkis. He portrays the core characteristics of Shyam Kalyan on a restive Ni and Dha in the ascending and descending phrases respectively. The sensitive use of shudh Ma against a prominent teevra Ma is noteworthy and makes for a neat portrayal of the softer, romantic flavour of the raga.
In the jod, Shyam Kalyan is expressed with excellent finger-techniques and vibrant, evocative phrases; The light and heavy gamaks flow into the lower, middle and upper octaves. Joydeep Ghosh blends elements of the Senia Shahjahanpur gharana with the vocal and instrumental techniques of the Imdadkhani gharana. Throughout the recital, he creates well-punctuated tonal sentences in an optimum balance of soul and virtue.
He concludes this part with a composition in madhyalay Teental. Shubh Maharaj’s tabla accompaniment is commendable. Drumming up strong bols with a dramatic accent, Maharaj splurges the recital with some of the choicest improvisations from the Benares gharana.
Ghosh switches to Raag Jog, playing a beautiful composition in drut Teental. Creating upaj taans, he oscillates and floats on the komal gandhar, thereby underlining the characteristic snatch of Jog. He raises the tempo and weaves a number of awe-inspiring taans with excellent laykari. Maharaj’s tabla (right-hand drum) with a broader diameter produces a deeper tone that compliments the sound of the sursingar appropriately.
He ends his recital with another small gat culminating to a reverberant jhalla. Maharaj gives a praiseworthy support till the end.
Joydeep Ghosh (sursingar)
Shubh Maharaj (tabla)
Gunwant Kaur (tanpura)