Pt. Ram Narayan
Doordarshan is privileged to present this collection of DVDs by Pt. Ram Narayan, master of the Sarangi.
The instrument that speaks so eloquently in the hands of the maestro, has acquired its very identity, as a prominent part of the Indian instrumental milieu, due to Pt. Ram Narayan's efforts, over the past seven decades. Besides bringing the Sarangi into public focus in India and internationally, Pt. Ram Narayan has indeed altered the basic technique of playing the instrument. Inventing a core set of principles that allow a more standardised approach to harness the inherent musicality of this challenging instrument, he has been able to forge a unique blend of the music content that can now be played on the Sarangi. Because of his extensive experience as an accompanist, which afforded him opportunities to play with vocalists of widely differing gharanas, he was able to formulate his own style or gharana; that he assiduously established over the years.
Pt. Ram Narayan has successfully passed on his musical legacy to his disciples, prominent among them, his son, the leading Sarod virtuoso Brij Narayan, his daughter Aruna Narayan Kalle and his grandson Harsh Narayan; and he has influenced and inspired an entire generation of young Sarangi players, all over the world.
An important part of the process of developing this Sarangi makeover can be attributed to Pt. Ram Narayan's exposure to western audiences, particularly prominent musicians like Pablo Casals, the great cellist; Yehudi Menuhin and Rostropovich, to name a few. The wholehearted admiration he received from them, in a way, inspired and reaffirmed his confidence in the path he had chosen. His work has been compared to that of the legendary Paganini who had revolutionised the technique of violin playing. The book 'Indian Music in Performance', based on his work, which he co-authored with Neil Sorell, is one of the few widely respected works by a contemporary Indian musician. It is referenced in universities, all over the world, as an important insight into the practical aspects of a performance.
Brij Narayan chose Sarod to give expression to his musical inclination. From a very young age, he has dazzled audiences in India and abroad, with his powerful amalgamated style. He received a sound training of the rhythmic art under his uncle, the great table player Pt. Chatur Lal and, subsequently, under his father. He presents the best of both aspects of music, taal and raga, in a well-balanced style that has become his unique signature.
Aruna Narayan Kalle
Aruna Narayan Kalle, Pt. Ram Narayan's daughter, began her musical training at the relatively Late age of eighteen. However, she advanced quickly and has continued to establish herself as one of the most prominent artistes of her generation. As the first woman to play Sarangi professionally, she has found success as a solo artiste and is also a sought-after soloist, in collaborative works with western classical music symphonies and ensembles.
Harsh Narayan is the Leading Sarangi player of the new generation. His unerring command over the instrument and his musical virtuosity, no doubt due to the invaluable training under his grandfather, put him in a League of his own. The future of Pt. Ram Narayan's Legacy is, thus, alive and assured.
Raga: Bhatiyar (23'00")
This elegant morning Raga, having an unusual structure combining major and minor scales, is enlivened by Pt. Ram Narayan's unique approach and sophisticated handling. The musical values present in this rendering reveal Pt. Ram Narayan's fine aesthetic sensibility and artistic virtuosity.
Raga: Saraswati Todi (14'07")
Saraswati Todi, a rare melody, comprising a brilliant interweaving of three ragas- Komal Rishabh Asavari, Todi and Jaunpuri- is, for the first time, being presented to regale the discerning listeners. Pt. Ram Narayan executes with dazzling clarity the extraordinary arrangement within this exquisite combination of three ragas, demanding a supremely alert mind, a quicksilver understanding and a masterly technical ability.
Raga: Bhupal Todi (11'03")
A beautiful raga of the Todi family, Bhupal Todi, is rarely played on Sarangi, owing to its difficult, pentatonic scale. Pt. Ram Narayan defies age as he effortlessly explores this raga with his masterly simplicity. Gracefully and ably accompanying him on Sarangi, is his talented grandson, Harsh Narayan, the finest Sarangi player from the younger set. He is a chip of the old block, as is evident from his extraordinary command over the instrument and the fundamentals of music.
Raga: Barwa (18'43")
In this rarely performed Raga, Pro Ram Narayan plays a deeply introspective alap and a vilambit teental composition which is a beautifully constructed piece that clearly distinguishes Barwa from other ragas like Kafi, Peelu and Bhimpalasi, all of which are in the vicinity. There is an extraordinary display of fast and intricate taans. The drut teental composition further reiterates his masterful control over his instrument and music; a great genius at work.
Raga: Shree (25'16")
Pt. Ram Narayan is joined by his son Brij Narayan on the Sarod, in an evocative rendering of raga Shree. This is a rare collaboration between a plucked and a bowed instrument, both of which are principally different from each other and hence, usually struggle to find a common musical voice. Here, both Sarangi and Sarod are united, speaking the same language - Pt. Ram Narayan's brilliant three-octave taans and Brij Narayan's equally exciting rhythm and stroke variations combine to create a rich musical event. Both the vilambit and drut compositions are in teental.
Raga: Shankara (27'12")
One of the most significant works in this series is the masterly performance of a rarely heard raga, Shankara. Pt. Ram Narayan is accompanied by his daughter, Aruna Narayan Kalle, in this aesthetically inspiring performance, with great charm and understanding. The two Sarangis are in perfect cohesion, leading, completing and moving forward musical sequences in a rare example of fine collaborative effort.
The vilambit composition in teental is vintage Ram Narayan. A beautifully crafted composition that highlights the raga chalan. The musical phrases are as rich as the rhythmic designs. The drut composition is also one of Pt. Ram Narayan's own and it exploits raga Shankara in a way, only a master can. Aruna's contribution to this piece is invaluable. She proves her mettle in a convincing manner.
Raga: Malhar (16'57")
Pt. Ram Narayan captures the very essence of the Indian monsoon and its myriad hues in this masterly Malhar. With his matchless dexterity and scholarly approach, he effortlessly portrays the majestic character of Malhar, while finely maintaining its pure form by following the traditional discipline.
Raga: Mishra Peelu (16'05")
Mishra Peelu is one of Pt. Ram Narayan's signature works. Over the years, he has taken his audiences on magical journeys with Peelu. Here again, he takes Aruna along, on a colourful tour, exploring and exploiting Peelu's many shades. Aruna makes a charming contribution. The teental composition is another well-loved Ram Narayan original. The Sarangi's capabilities seem limitless in this display of highly virtuoso musical passages that Panditji has developed in lieu of the jhala.
Raga: Jogia (08'00")
Pt. Ram Narayan's Jogia is distinctly different and special. Unlike the usually sombre approach, favoured by most musicians, Pt. Ram Narayan gives Jogia a unique style and substance that is matched only by his vivid imagination.
Raga: Mishra Bhairavi (07'44")
Pt. Ram Narayan's Bhairavi is almost a spiritual experience. He has eschewed the usual light and fluty route, and that is a delight to the ears. He uses the creative licence of Bhairavi to undertake a detailed exploration of the whole of music - one that crosses boundaries and impositions exerted by the strict rules of ragas. With Bhairavi, he lets loose his creative and emotional indulgence and the result is a highly sensitive presentation.
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