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A recital of uneven quality

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A recital of uneven quality

The Economic Times, September 3, 1989

Padma Talwalkar, who gave a vocal recital under the aegis of Sajan Milap before a packed audience on August 27, is an artiste seldom known to disappoint. A top-ranker from among the new breed of Hindustani vocalists, her recitals have always been marked not only byconfidence and competence but also by the kind of vivacity and fervor with which she invests her singing.

But it was different Padma whom the audience heard her at this mehfil. She began with a one-hour exploration of Marwa in khayal vilambit and drut. This was followed by a half-hour presentation of khayal in Chhayanat in medium tempo, with a tarana drut. She concluded with a similar unfolding in Yaman, set to vilambit and drut for about 50-minutes.

The opening Marwa was rather disconcerting. To begin with, her voice did not co-operate with her creative ideas. It was evident that it was beset with seasonal cold. Although Marwa is a somber evening melody which shines best in the lower and medium octaves, one sensed a peculiar element of diffidence in her progressions leading up to the conventional antara phase. The swara intonations, as also some of the gamaks and meends, sounded unclear, even off-key. The patterns in the entire build-up often turned repetitiovs.

Then there were a few sequences totally alien to the conventional melodic character of the chosen raga. There was, for instance, a downward meend from tivra madhyama to shadja, which gave Marwa the colour of Hindol and similar melodies. All this bred list lessness among those who are so delightfully familiar with Padma’s brilliant performances in the past.

It was with her Chhayanat that the artiste began to regain her usual form. Her voice had become clearer and more pliable, and the portraiture showed her keen sense of form and design. The relative brevity of presentation was a very important factor in creating a delightful impact on our ears.

The kind of momentum Padma had gathered in Chhayanat was not only maintained but even accelerated in her final Yaman. This was possibly the best item of her fare. A sampurana raga of perennial beauty and charm, Yaman is one of the ancient ragas that gives fullest scope to a truly talented artiste to show his or her musicianship. And Padma brought all her musicianly virtues to bear on its depiction. It afforded real aesthetic fulfillment.

To be fair to an artiste of the caliber of Padma Talwalkar, mention must also be made of certain other factors which are often apt to determine the success (or failure) of a concert. In this case, the programme was delayed by half an hour, even while the schedule of the start – as late 6.15 p.m. – was awkwardly timed. It was learnt that the sponsors had to go frantically in search of a harmonium.

Incidentally, this is not the first time that some such avoidable reasons result in equally avoidable delays. If, for instance, it was the harmonium this time, there had been occasions in the past when the tabla accompanist was found ‘missing’ or the sound system was not satisfactory. It is time the sponsors of such a leading institution like Sajan Milap gave top priority to important matters of planning and coordination.

No less irritating was the instrumental support.


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