Friday, November 25, 2011

Favorite Musical Masterpieces: Thankgiving Edition (D.V. Paluskar, Faiyyaz Khan, Bade Ghulam Ali/ Barkat Ali, Salamat Ali Khan)

Ustad Faiyyaz Khan
Here in the United States this is the week of the Thanksgiving holiday. It is one of the more relaxing times of the year and with a four day weekend, I have had plenty of time to re-listen to some great Hindustani classical music. Since its been a while that I posted the sublime Jhinjhoti thumri by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan here are a few more gems that will surely accompany me to the proverbial desert island. Some may notice that these are all by male singers but a post is brewing in my head which will focus on some favorite pieces by female classical singers (Begum Akhtar, Kajjan Begum, Roshan Ara Begum, Girija Devi).
First up is D.V. Paluskar. I have always loved the purity of D.V. Paluskar's sur and the clarity of his singing. What a tragedy that this extraordinary talent died in 1955 when he was only 34. His father, Pandit Vishnu Digambar Paluskar was a singer and teacher of some renown and founded the premier classical music institute called "Gandharva Mahavidyalaya" in Lahore in 1901.

Here is D.V. Paluskar singing "Piyu Palan Laage More AkhiyaN" in Raga Gaud Sarang:

Next is a little nugget from the emperor of the Agra Gharana, Ustad Faiyyaz Khan. Known as Aftab-e-Mauseeqi (a title given to him by the Maharaja of Mysore), Faiyyaz Khan's mastery and his distinctive, booming voice leaves one mesmerized. Faiyyaz Khan was a towering figure of his time; a court musician for the Maharaja of Baroda for many years, a close friend of the Sarangi-maestro Ustad Bundu Khan and a much sought after "Mehfil ka Baadshah" for musical concerts and conferences. Professor Daud Rahbar (Zia Mohyeddin's first cousin) has written a charming book about music called "Kuchh BateiN Sureeli See" which is dedicated to Ustad Faiyyaz Khan ("Jinn kay gaane meiN mohabbat aur himmat kee goonj thhee").

This is Ustad Faiyyaz Khan's "Pawan Chalat" in Raga Chhayanat:

Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and his brother Ustad Barkat Ali Khan were great exponents of the Patiala Gharana. Their long association with Lahore makes me think of them even more fondly. Barkat Ali Khan (1908 - 1963) was born and died in Lahore and is buried in the Miani Sahib cemetery. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan moved to India a couple of years after partition but learned much of his music in Lahore with Akhtar Hussain Khan and Aashiq Ali Khan. All these Patiala scions practiced and performed often at "Takia MeerasiaN" near Gawalmandi bazaar.

The two pieces I have selected here are in Raga Pahari so one can contrast the singing of the two brothers side by side in similar light genre performances. Barkat Ali Khan had a gentler voice more suited to semi-classical singing but Bade Ghulam Ali Khan had greater range. His resonant voice and vocal mastery felt equally at home in Thumri/Daadra or Khayaal.

Barkat Ali Khan sings his famous maahiya,"BaaghoN MeiN Parre Jhoole"(written by Chiragh Hasan Hasrat): (unfortunately there is a bit of background crackling noise in this version)

Bade Ghulam Ali Khan sings "Qurbaan So Maariye".

When I reflect on the Hindustani classical music tradition and its evolution, there is no doubt in my mind that it is now a shadow of its former self. Pakistan inherited the likes of Salamat Ali/ Nazakat Ali, Fateh Ali/Amanat Ali, Ghulam Hassan Shaggan and Aashiq Ali Khan but the art form died quickly in the culturally hostile terrain despite the best effort of those greats. Their disciples kept up somewhat but almost entirely abandoned the more demanding, long classical forms like Khayaal. Even in India, where there is a much more robust music education infrastructure and far greater number of organized public concerts, the quality of the performers is generally mediocre. Bade Ghulam Ali Khan, Abdul Karim Khan, Omkarnath Thakur or D.V. Paluskar are in a different league but amongst under-50 performers one would be hard pressed to find more than a few that are of even Ustad Rashid Khan's quality. The genuinely first rate, even in India, have either passed away or are quite aged (Kishori Amonkar, Girija Devi).

Lastly, we have a heavenly performance by Ustad Salamat Ali Khan with a bandish that seems particuarly apt as one remembers all these vocalists who are no longer with us.

Salamat Ali Khan sings "Daiyya, KahaN Gaye Woh Log" in Raga Allahiya Bilawal.


ajnabi said...

Fawad sahib,
I look so forward to listening to these. Happy Thanksgiving. I agree, this is a very nice time of year.

Zakintosh said...

Check out the new CDs at T2F and let me know if you need any. A cousin is leaving for USA at end of April. I will also have more coming out by then.

NiftyTips100 said...

Ustad Rashid Khan is truly a masterclass in Hindustani. He traverses semi-classical to khayaal with ease. You could also perhaps listen to Rajan & Sajan Mishra brothers... they too are a leading light of classical music in India...