So to follow up my rock night on Friday I went for a very very different type of concert on the weekend. Sawai , in its 55th edition this year , was my first experience of a hardcore classical concert and it was great. To be very frank I don’t really understand vocals in Indian classical music so I wasn’t really interested in them. My main motivation to attend Sawai this year was Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia , Rahul Sharma and Dr. L . Subramanium.
Hariprasad Chaurasia performed on Saturday from 8 pm to 10 pm . He was accompanied by Pandit Vijay Ghate on tabla and Pandit Bhavani Shankar on the Pakhavaj. He was brilliant .In those two hours we heard all the skill and talent of the great man pouring out of his flute. Vijay Ghate is the closest I’ve seen to Ustad Zakir Hussain and seeing his flying fingers do the talking on the tabla was a great experience.The show featured a sequence with Chaurasia playing on the flute and Ghate replicating the sound on the tabla. Ghate kept up for a long time until Chaurasia pulled out a piece of brilliance and created an impossible-to-imitate sound on the flute. That was the best moment of the night for me.
The next big act was on Sunday when Rahul Sharma performed on the santoor (the most beautiful sounding instrument ever) accompanied by (to my delight) once again Pandit Vijay Ghate on tabla and (to my immense surprise) my cousin Kunal Gunjal on Tanpura. Rahul Sharma too put up the expected brilliant show with great innovations like finger picking , damping of the the strings a la guitar and playing out of time only to come back at the exact moment at the end of the cycle.
However the best act for me was the legendary Dr. L. Subramanium on the violin. I was particularly interested in this performance for I’ve previously heard his western classical works and wanted to see him in action. He was accompanied by his son Ambi on the violin. The next two hours were that of sheer musical genius and sublime skill . Amazing tunes , great clarity , blinding speed and crossover innovations from western works like chords and finger picking. The show ended with a very typically western crescendo.
We left the show immediately after L Subramanium’s performance , not just because Prabha Atre who was following him on stage was a vocalist , or that it was 2in the morning at the time but because the act was just too brilliant and there was nothing that could have followed it.