Sarod virtuoso Pandit Rajeev Taranath cast a spell over music connoisseurs, during his soul-stirring concert at the Ravindra Kalakshetra recently.
On October 17, Bangalore, a city that was his past home witnessed his musical aspirations come to life as it basked in the symphony of his life and artistry, bearing witness to an unforgettable celebration. At the age of 91, Taranath is hailed as one of the foremost proponents of the Maihar Allauddin gharana, a lineage renowned for its openness and unique approach to the development of ragas. A disciple of great sarod maestro Ustad Ali Akbar Khan Taranth’s journey has been enriched by the guidance and training received from legendary Maihar stalwarts: Annapurna Devi and Ravi Shankar. Yet, Rajeev Taranath transcends the confines of a mere musician. He is a custodian of multiple cultures and a luminary of our time.
The felicitation on this remarkable evening brought together a kaleidoscope of individuals, transcending societal boundaries. The audience consisted not only of musicians but also writers, erudite English teachers, students who were fortunate to be nurtured by his wisdom at the Regional Institute of English in Mysore, and fervent political activists who revere him for his socio-political advocacy.
Rajeev Taranath’s extraordinary gift lies in his ability to bridge the chasms of caste and religion, radiating genuine warmth and dignity, connecting the realms of the intellectual elite and the common man who shares his space. A connoisseur of both music and literature, Taranath epitomizes the quintessential thinking artist. His unique talent manifests on dual fronts, characterized by an unrivaled clarity in elucidating the most intricate musical concepts and a simultaneous infusion of mesmerizing musicality into his spoken expressions, whether in casual conversation or during an erudite lecture.
In the evening recent concert, Rajeev Taranath wove a tapestry of two ragas: Keeravani (literally translates as “Parrot’s voice” in Sanskrit) and Shuddha Bhairavi. The performance was a graceful unfurling of Keeravani, a Sampurna raga borrowed from the Carnatic tradition. A succinct alaap served as the prelude to a ten-beat Jhaptaal composition, providing the canvas for his masterful jod-alaap and jhala. The subsequent fast-paced drut and atidrut compositions delved deep into the vivacious essence of Keeravani.
However, it was the soul-stirring alaap in raga Shuddha Bhairavi that left an indelible mark, capturing not only the essence of the raga but also Taranath’s personal emotions, his guru’s wisdom, and the very essence of the Maihar-gharana, of which he is an indispensable luminary. The resonances he conjured in his transcendent moment have the power to linger in the hearts and minds of those who had the privilege of being present, haunting them for the rest of their days.
The compositions in madhyalaya addha-teentaal and drut-teentaal further embellished this captivating musical journey, creating a robust and immersive experience. A special facet of the evening was the captivating collaboration with two tabla maestros, the father-son duo, Pandit Udayaraj Karpur, and the exceptionally gifted young Pradyumna Karpur. Udayaraj marveled at the nimble “upaj-ang,” quick transitions from tisra to chaturasra, the mesmerizing anagat patterns, and the intricate “gatkari” that Rajeev Taranath’s playing brought to life.
Onstage, Taranath was accompanied by his dedicated disciples: Sachin Hampe and Anupam Joshi on sarod, and Aranya Kumar on sitar, a testament to the enduring legacy of the maestro. Taranath, who once poetically likened the journey of learning the sarod to a challenging mountain-climbing expedition, led the audience “Beyond” the familiar peaks and plateaus into a vast expanse of melody and emotion.
A newly released documentary film, Pt. Rajeev Taranath – A Life in Music, directed by Amshan Kumar, offers an intimate glimpse into the life and artistry of this legendary musician. The film was premiered in Mysuru on October 21.