From the Darbar’s chest of priceless concerts, this performance of Begum Sultana will remain as the most invaluable treasure of all. Conventionally, as the senior-most and the most coveted artist, she was lined-up as the final performer of 2007, bringing the 3-day festival to a grand conclusion.
She begins Raag Maru Bihag, keeping the introduction brief but elaborating it in detail on the expansive canvas of the ‘bada khayal’. 'Kaise Bin Sajan’ is set to vilambit Ektaal and micro-distributed over 48 beats (12 x 4).
She gives it a uniquely melodious treatment with akaar and bol-banav vistaar and gamaks. Begum Sultana swoops into the lower-most and upper-most octaves of teevra madhyam (sharp 4th) judiciously in her full-throated glory. She binds up every improvisation with melody, ameliorating the sweetness of Maru Bihag. The drut Teental khayal is rendered with grace. Chiranjib Chakraborty gives a brilliant accompaniment on the harmonium, peppering spaces with redolent phrases of Maru Bihag.
Next, she performs a long alaap, introducing the unusual raga Maluha Maand. She performs a tarana in this raga, adorning it with feisty taans in double and four times the speed.
Upon the request of Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt who was also present in the audience that evening, Begum Sultana performs a tarana in Raag Hamsadhwani. A favourite of her fans, she doles out this piece with riveting taans and lucid elaborations exploring the contours of Hamsadhwani.
The next piece is opened with a fluid alaap that leads to a traditional bhajan composed by one of the most popular 14th century women seers of India – Mirabai. She expands the devotional fervour of the bhajan with her keen melodic imagination adding her magical touch to it.
The ‘Cleopetra’ of Indian music concludes the evening with ‘Yaad Sataye Din Rayn Mitwa’. It is a slow thumri in Mishra Bhairavi in which, she projects the romantic ‘bluesy’ emotions of the composition with colourful hues.
Apart from Chakraborty who did a commendable job, it was a delight to listen to Partha Sarathi Mukherjee’s tabla accompaniment. Mukherjee is full of spry and never missing a point when it comes to prioritising the melody.
As one of her wonderful habits, Begum Sultana kept appreciating her co-artists on stage throughout the concert, bringing out the best in them.
Begum Parveen Sultana (Patiala gharana)
Partha Sarathi Mukherjee (Tabla)
Chiranjib Chakraborty (Harmonium)
Gunwant Dhadyalla (tanpura)
Nina Burmi (Tanpura)
Ranjana Ghatak (tanpura)
Debipriya Das (support)
Raag Maru Bihag, Thaat: Kalyan, Samay: Evening
Raag Maluha Maand, tarana in drut Teental
Raag Hamsadhwani, Thaat: Bilawal, Samay: Evening
Mirabai Bhajan, Sakhi Ri Main Girdhar Ke Rang Raati
Thumri, Yaad Sataye Din Rayn Mitwa, Mishra Bhairavi