Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia works a charm with his magic flute

It was due to the unflagging spirit and efforts of the late maestro, Pandit Pannalal Ghosh, that the simple bamboo flute is now recognised in the category of instruments like sitar, sarod, and sarangi. Critics believe that a flute can interpret and express finer nuances of the Indian classical music with as much precision and melody as sitar, sarod and sarangi.

After Pandit Ghosh's death, it is Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia who has not only nurtured his legacy, but with his talent and diligence coupled with an innovative approach, made the recital on the flute popular all over the world.

Pandit Chaurasia, who has emerged as the foremost disciple of the late Annapurna Devi, began his performance at the Saptak Music Festival with a recital of Raag Bageshri— a raga usually played at late night.

Pandit Chaurasia started off with the traditional alap, which is a slow and introspective exposition of the raaga and defines principal moods of a particular raaga. The main challenge before a flute player is to create the same effect of the raaga as the one created by a vocalist. However, it did not require any special effort on the part of Pandit Chaurasia to achieve this.

Pandit Chaurasuia does not always develop the raag in the tradition of Khayal Gayaki, but liberally touches upon the elements of the Drupad, which gives his alapchari a dimension that is not usually found in the alaps of other artists. His soulful alap became more pronounced with the introduction of Jor and Jhala, which added rhythmic pulse to the raaga.

In the next stage of the Raag Bageshree, Panditji played a Gat (composition) in Madhya Laya Teen Taal (a 16-beat rhythmic cycle played with a medium intensity). This Gat demonstrated his penchant for innovation in all aspects of structuring of raaga.

The Gat was unusual in its chalan (progressive movement) and this can create serious problems for the tabla player if he is not sufficiently proficient. Panditji made it even more interesting and absorbing by weaving intricate patterns of the musical notes and rhythm into the Gat.

The accompanying tabla artist Ustad Rashid Mustafa Thirakwa, a doyen of the family of the great tabla artist Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, matched Panditji beat by beat.

Today in Saptak
Amita Dalal, a sitar student of the Saptak School of Music, will be the first to perform. She will be accompanied by Ramkumar Mishra on the tabla.
Another local artist Rushikumar Shastri will give a vocal recital. He will be accompanied by Vashishtha Shastri on the tabla and Kishore Kunte on the harmonium. Ustad Fazal Quereshi will give a solo tabla performance with Shishir Chandra Bhatt on the harmonium. Famous thumri exponent Girija Devi will be the last artist of the day, who will be accompanied by Sudhir Pandey on the tabla, Dharm Nath Mishra on the harmonium and Bharat Bhushan Goswamy on the sarangi.

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