Unveiling Afternoon Ragas: Prattyush Banerjee
Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre
As part of Darbar Festival 2012
Image Credit: Courtesy of the Artist
Darbar founder, Sandeep Virdee has been outspoken in his desire to present lesser known talents each year. ‘Unveiling Afternoon Ragas’ was hardly the most exciting title of this final day afternoon session, but what ensued definitely was. Hailing from Kolkata, sarod maestro Prattyush Banerjee stood at the entrance of the auditorium, gently greeting audience members. Though relatively young, his reputation seemed to precede him. The hall was packed out, including an encouraging front row of senior musicians like Ustad Dharambir Singh and Pt. Swapan Chauduri. Banerjee spent most of the concert unravelling an alap/jor/bandish in Raag Patdeep. His manner was perfectly serene, his playing simultaneously precise and restrained, yet richly evocative. One of the joys of the fretless instrument is its fluid bends. Banerjee’s lyrical movement prompted head nodding in the front row, to which he offered shy smiles. His composed presence allowed the purity of the music to shine through, rather than the personality which is so often at the forefront on the music stage. Accompanied by the crisp and punchy tabla of Sanju Sahai, he showed delightful ingenuity improvising on the bandish with melodic drop offs and slides that were just as joyously breathtaking as being thrown in the air as a baby. He concluded with Raag Sindura, which he announced modestly as ‘a not so popular afternoon melody’. Giving it a hypnotic lilt in rupak taal, it finished with a restrained descrescendo rather than the usual explosive tihai. Oh, and a standing ovation. Not bad for an afternoon.