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Touching tributes to tabla veteran

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The Economic Times, February 19, 1989

rsz_drumtabla1The two-day programme of vocal, instrumental and percussion music, held at the Dadar-Matunga Cultural Center on February 4 and 5, came as a touching tribute to the memory of the percussion veteran, D. R. Nerurkar, who died in harness three years ago. As many as six vocalists, three instrumentalists and two percussionists gave their recitals in a true spirit of dedication.

The memorial programme was organised, like in the past two years, by the veteran’s talented son, Deepak, who has already made his mark as a top tabla player in his own right. It was, therefore, just as well that a large representation was given to younger talent to perform on the concert platform.

Another highlight of the event was that Deepak thoughtfully took the opportunity to felicitate an impressive line-up of leading lights of the older generation at the hands of the Gwalior gharana maestro, the septuagenarian Pandit Arolkar. The artistes felicitated were stalwarts of the eminence of Pandharinath Nagshkar and Yeshwant Kerkar, both tabla wizards; and K. G. Ginde, C. R. Vyas and Shobha Gurtu, whose contribution to Hindustani music, both classical and light classical, is too well-known to need elaboration.

There was also significance and meaning in the choice of the final item, which featured Suresh Gaitonde and Nizam Uddin Khan, whose attainments as percussionists is of high order.

Late D. R. Nerukar is known not only to those who have been music broadcasters of AIR, Bombay, but also to regular concert-goers in the wider sphere of musical activity. True, Nerurkar had cast his lot with the music section of AIR Bombay where he worked as senior staff artiste. But his endearing personality fostered an enduring bond of goodwill and friendship with eminent broad-casters who made it a point to engage him for their percussion sangat in their concert programmes.

If Nerukar was equally at ease in providing his accompaniment to artistes with a variety of style and approach, it was because he knew the heart and mind of almost every artiste and aligned his playing to the needs of their mood and temperament. In other words, he was versatile in his sangat which showed his awareness of the basic virtues of ideal sangat.

Irshad Khan, and Shivananda Patil, both up and coming youngsters, followed by Shankar Abhyankar, Chandrasshekar Rele, D. K. Datar and Yeshwantbuva Joshi, all elderly artistes, covered the opening session. Irshad Khan, as the son of the sitar maestro, Imrat Khan, has music in his veins. He excels both as a sitarist and surbahar player. His Puriya Dhanashri on the surbahar, followed by Yamani revealed his conspicuous musicianship. Shivanand Patil’s Shankara and Patdeep were impressive for their variety of taan patterns.

Abhyankar offered his own innovation, Rageshwari Jog, on his sitar. Both in content and presentation, it showed his undoubted erudition and maturity. The light number, heard next, had a lilt of its own, with a variety of tihayis. Rele’s renditions in Hamir and Sohoni Khayals carried a deep impress of Kumar Gandharva’s style. On the other hand Datar, one of our top-notch violinists, showed the ultimate in gayaki ang through its enchanting Maru Bihag. The succeeding lighter piece in Pilu had deep intensity of feeling.

The artistes billed for the second session were Asavari Patwardhan, Shubha Joshi, Satyasheel Deshpande and Poorvi Parikh, also vocalists from the younger set. Asavari’s rendition in Sorath was neat, tidy and methodical. But in the case of Shubha her voice is indeed her fortune.

Deshpande’s khayals in Puriya kalyan and two compositions in Kafi were marked by felicities of tone and style. Poorvi Parikh’s khayal in Marwa was true to the Kirana model, shaped in a sensitive voice.

As mentioned earlier, the finale of the event featured percussion solos by Suresh Gaitonde and Nizamuddin Khan. They played their part with practiced ease, so much so that the hall resounded to the brilliant and breath-taking sounds of rhythm from their respective double-drums.

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