Don't miss this mind-bending performance of two ragas – Gurjari Todi and Ambika Sarang at the Darbar Festival 2007. This was the second year of Darbar’s journey as the biggest south Asian music festival in the UK. A few artists’ visas did not arrive on time and that required someone or the other to perform in their place. As an extremely benevolent gesture, Begum Sultana had agreed impromptu to fill in this slot and leave behind some more gems for us in the form of these rare morning ragas.
Giving her a fantastic accompaniment on the tabla is Yogesh Samsi, who gives a virtuosic and soulful support to this recital.
She sings the alaap defining the territory of Gurjari Todi. The vilambit khayal is based on Ektaal spread over a 12-beat cycle. She expands the raga immaculately with a wide range of exquisite phrases through ‘akaar vistaar,’ ‘gamaks,’ ‘bol-banav’ and taans ranging four octaves. The drut khayal is set to Teental which she embellishes with super-fast taans in four times the tempo of the composition. Samsi’s solos are a wonder, a streak of lightning and an experience to remember.
As the second piece, she chooses Raag Ambika Sarang. In the magical timbre of her voice, she weaves a majestic alaap demonstrating the gait and movements of this raga. The drut khayal, ‘Ud Ja Re Kagva’, is set to Teental which she improvises with highly imaginative combination of vistaar and taans. The occasional respite from the lightning speed taans is provided with very well-balanced, elongated vistaars and pauses on notes in between.
Begum Sultana performs a devotional piece thereafter which is a ‘Sai bhajan,’ as her concluding piece of the recital. It is a hymn sung to the spiritual master from Shirdi, India, Sri Satya Sai Baba. But she relents to repeated requests following a standing ovation by the audience for an encore. ‘Bhavani Dayani,’ a Durga bhajan is rendered with utmost soulfulness. Begum Sultana remains an epitome of beauty, elegance, grace and talent on stage.
Chiranjib Chakraborty provides a melodious support on the harmonium, augmenting parts of the concert with great skill and soul. Yogesh Samsi’s discernible mastery is evident throughout the concert.
Last-minute mishaps are typical of big festivals, but we remain eternally grateful to Begum Sultana’s generosity in accommodating us like family. The morning ragas, especially Raag Ambika Sarang, will remain as one of our most precious possessions. We are delighted to share the same with you in this Director’s Cut version.
Begum Parveen Sultana (Patiala gharana)
Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (tabla)
Chiranjib Chakraborty (harmonium)
Nina Burmi (tanpura)
Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpura)
Debipriya Das (support)
Ranjana Ghatak (support)
Raag Gurjari Todi, Thaat: Todi, Samay: Morning
Raag Ambika Sarang, Thaat: Kafi, Samay: Late morning
Bhajan, Sai Raam Sumiran Karo
Bhajan in Raag Bhairavi, Bhavani Dayani