Double Bill: Pulsating Surshingar and Violin maestros - Joydeep Ghosh and the Mysore Brothers
Darbar’s reputation as the most diverse, high quality Indian music festival outside of India, was upheld with its cracking first night. After a late start, Joydeep Ghosh took to the stage. He is not a big name, and his hefty instrument, the sursringar, is even less known. Tuning took quite some time, and the mixed audience shifted in their seats a little, but once he really started playing, all were captivated. The sursringar is the older brother of the sarod, and has not often heard rich bass tones that are reminiscent of Japanese stringed instruments like the junanagen. In the formidable hands of Ghosh it was a toy - long, ‘one pluck’ held notes with subtlest ornamentation; languidly gliding over the fingerboard, yet with surgical precision as far as pitch. In the alap his oscillations murmured like a conversation between lovers, evoking gasps from the audience. Credit to the sound engineers for being able to pick it all up. The later jor and jhalla evoked a river as the sunset meets the water, creating a blaze of gold - this was dazzling playing, including the absolute treat of Shubh Maharaj’s tabla accompaniment. It was an electric combination that had the audience laughing in disbelief as the two anticipated each others’ rhythmic changes. Riveting.