Impassioned recital by Arolkar
By MOHAN NADKARNI
The Economic Times, April 16, 1989
Music, like other performing arts, is of two types. One is characterised by the sheer physical ability and the intellectual skill with which the executants can conjure his (or her) tonal and rhythmical patterns to present an impressive melodic structure, while the subjective element of intuition, the moving humanistic faculty (which inspires all great creations) rules supreme in the other. In fact, it breathes life into the musical effort.
I had a rare occasion to hear this type of music at a concert held at the auditorium of the Sane Guruji Vidyalaya at Dadar on April 9. The artiste was Pandit Sharad-Chandra Arolkar who, at 76, is the oldest living stalwart of the Gwalior parampara still performing on the stage.
Broadly speaking, one has to concede that Pandit Arolkar’s is the kind of music that does not carry much popular appeal, in the contemporary sense. That is probably because his music is not intended to “impress” the audiences by means of vocal gymnastics, notational jugglery or an unending array of dazzling taans. Yet, there is a section of listeners among the present-day motley audiences which always looks for what is pure, subtle and beautiful in classical music.
And it is this kind of discerning rasikas who always look forward to listening to Panditji’s recitals with a keen sense of anticipation. Needless to say, the aficionados, who crowded the compact hall to hear Panditji, comprised mature listeners, discerning scholars and even senior performing artistes. Not surprisingly, Pandit Arolkar, who is known to excel himself in such tidy mehfils, established immediate rapport with his fans and treated them to choice fare of evening melodies from his phenomenal repertory for three hours, despite his age and indifferent health.
The fare covered vilambit and drut khayals each in Marwa, Purvi and Yaman. He interspersed his presentations with rare and hoary compositions in dadra, thumri and Bhairavi. The fare was not only rich but also varied for its imaginative revelations. The variety of his ideas revealed itself as much in the light classical bandishes as in the raga depictions.
Although each number had a charm and appeal of its own, the musical piece that will long linger in my memory was his Yaman. Without exaggeration, it came to us as an impassioned utterance of a deeply moved soul. He sang it in an exalted strain, in which every note, every phrase, every pattern came as a conscreation to his adored use. It has the hue and character of an intense, ardent mood, which acquired a mystical tone – the virtue that incidentally marks Panditji’s personal approach to his art.
The proceedings began on a rather insouciant note, partly because Panditji’s voice did not seem to co-operate with his musical urges, and largely because the accompanist on the tabla, who was none else than the veteran Nizamuddin Khan, looked not only unsure but also indifferent in his sangat. Panditji was hard put to it to guide him, quite sportingly, to come on the right track. The result was that the opening Marwa simply could not come up to the high standards Panditji has himself set and always fulfilled in respect of his own performances.
The proceedings happily brightened up later when Panditji took up Purvi and the rest of the fare that followed. Even as Panditji’s voice became more pliable and clear, Nizamuddin Khan also largely regained his usual adroitness and skill in his sangat.
Mention must, however, be made of the superb support on the harmonium, Tulsidas Borkar. Equally commendable was the vocal support that the ageing veteran received from Sharad Sathe, his outstanding disciple.