When Pavane met Raag Kirvani

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Avignon Provence Symphonic Orchestra collaborated for a jugalbandi on Tuesday.

When sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who is used to playing a particular raga for hours at a stretch and drawing his audience into the delightful world of ragas and riyaaz, has a conductor positioned in front of him, directing him about beginning and ending his pieces, one gets curious. But Khan, who has always been open to innovations and collaborations, was not a purist of the Senia Bangash gharana on Tuesday evening.

He turned into a musician who moves with the times, with his music in tow. At a concert held at Siri Fort auditorium, Khan, accompanied by sons Amaan and Ayaan, musicians from the Avignon Provence Symphonic Orchestra and the electronica act, Kords Collective gave a different but short performance.

Organised by the French Embassy and the Alliance Française as a part of "Bonjour India", the concert titled "Ananta Opus 195: Concerto for sarod, symphonic and electronic orchestra" was composed by Pierre Thilloy, who has composed music for symphonies, concertos, chamber music, and symphonic poems.

"I've travelled a lot in India. The music of this country is so vast that I could have spent years here. I wanted to draw Khan sahab into our world of western classical music. It was one of the biggest challenges to bring a tradition which is oral and combine it with the one which is written as there was a complete orchestra involved," said Thilloy.

The performance opened with Gabriel Fauré's12-minute Pavane. The composition came with haunting elegance and a series of melodic climaxes. This was followed by the three Khans playing a short bandish in Raag Kirvani — a melodic raga the scales of which exist in south Indian and western classical music. Khan was at his melodic best and the presence of the conductor did not bother him. The combinations sounded interesting at times but some pieces should have only used the sarod and the tabla. The fusion seemed to go off key in parts. But the inclusion of the electronica act lifted the performance. However, the loudness of it drowned the sound of Tanmay Bose's tabla, who was brilliant otherwise.

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