The Shades of Malhar
It has been several decades since I first heard Ratish Tagde performing with his violin at a mutual friend’s residence at Mumbai’s Carmichael Road. Since then, we have remained in contact intermittently, all music related, but I never received an opportunity of seeing him perform live again.
With Pandit (“Pt”) Ronu Majumdar, the connect has never been personal, but the release of his cassette during the launch of record label Magnasound in 1989 remains a landmark event. On August 04, 2023 the stars aligned as I saw both these musical stalwarts perform live and, fortuitously, together…
Dubbed by Jio World Centre as ‘The Shades Of Malhar’, the concert was appropriately set in the season of monsoon. In playing to an appreciative audience at the Centre’s Studio Theatre, and superbly organised by Leena Divianathan, the timely beginning of the programme, sharp at 8pm, saw flautist Pt Ronu Majumdar and violinist Ratish Tagde, accompanied by Aditya Kalyanpur on tabla and Ganesh Sawant on pakhawaj, on stage. In the intimate setting and, after providing time to the musicians to warm up, the first of the multiple music pieces had Sawant showcase his talent on percussion, with the next one focusing on Kalyanpur’s. However, by the time that the musical talents were in full throttle, they had run through the elaborate “Miya Ki Malhar” (alaap and jod followed by two gats), before the quartet presented shorter pieces in “Megh”, “Jayant Malhar”, and “Surdasi Malhar”, and concluding with the eternal bhajan of “Raghupati Raghav”.
Undoubtedly, the director of this remarkable confluence of talent was Pt Majumdar as his eye contact with the respective musicians led them to commence their musical offerings or, as the case was, speed up tempos. Ratishji’s inspired work on the violin remains unique and stimulating because his style is so distinctive and, at the same time, he has an inherent ability to add a warm, human feel to his sound. Panditji remains an enigma in continually searching for new playing contexts in which to place his flute, which he enters and exits only as a virtuoso would.
However, while the amalgamation of talent was truly a wonder, and indeed memorable, one genuinely looks forward to a sequel of sorts to ‘The Shades Of Malhar’. Leena, are you listening…?