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Review: A refreshing mixture of raga and sublime; Shujaat Khan/Anindya Banerjee The Adrian Boult Hall.

This double bill of North Indian evening ragas commenced with sarod player Anindya Banerjee accompanied by Abhijit Banerjee on tabla. The sarod is best described as a complicated cousin of the banjo, its resonant strings having a similar clanking sound, the player's left hand sliding freely along its wide steel neck.

The mood was very introverted during the lengthy alap introduction, Anindya taking time to explore the silences between notes. Eventually, Abhijit started up a tabla pulse, gaining in momentum as the pair moved towards a metallic, fast-strummed theme, stopping and starting, playing in perfect unison. Unfortunately, apart from this energetic conclusion, there was an intangible feeling that audience communication had been lost at the expense of technical dash.

Sitarist Shujaat Khan provided a sensitive contrast. Announcing that the venue had a 10 o'clock curfew he condensed the alap, bending and extending silvery notes into convoluted phrases. Being a large man, he appeared to dwarf the sitar, making his very light touch all the more remarkable.

Partha Sarthi Mukherjee answered in suitably subtle style, rubbing low tabla notes with his palm, pattering delicately as Khan started vocalising each instrumental motif, playing in the gayaki ang style which demands sitar lines emulate the human voice in their construction. Shujaat built up to the same pitch as Anindya, but benefiting from a more elaborately decorative style, as if really listening for as-yet-unknown sounds, rather than repeating trusted moves.

Shujaat Khan and Anindya Banerjee play at Dudley Town Hall tomorrow night at 7pm.

Martin Longley
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Author:Longley, Martin
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 12, 1999
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