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Vi avbryter vår eurofebruari, för karnatiska lyssnare är denna februari ändå bara intresserade av en enda sak: Abhishek Raghurams konsert på Music Academy i Chennai den 30 december 2010. Det har inte surrats så mycket om en indisk konsert sedan Shahid Parvez turnerade med Jog och Piloo 2003. Den unge Abhishek (25 år och barnbarn till mrdangamisten Palghat Raghu) underhöll nämligen med en över 30 minuter lång alapana i Todi som lyckades med det omöjliga i sydindisk musik: att så tvedräkt mellan lyssnare och kritiker.

Februarinumret av Sruti (undertecknat ”Sruti Team”):

Abshishek Raghuram’s was one of the most successful concerts of the season, an appreciative audience bursting into frequent and prolonged applause. He did elaborate alapana-s of Madhyamavati and Todi, the main raga of the evening. Innovative, even startlingly original sometimes, the Todi essay had little of the Todi that old-timers know. Judging by the rave reviews everywhere, including cyberspace, the concert was a watershed in the evolution of the aesthetics of Carnatic music. More than the excesses of a young musician’s creativity, it is the listening public’s approval of it that causes concern.

G Swaminathan i The Hindu:

The opening phrases were excruciatingly slow and sedate, embellished with unexpected frills and twists but progressed extremely well. Raghuram elaborated Todi in as many ways as possible. This exercise nearly went for about thirty minutes. But the response was amazing. He got a standing ovation. So any adverse remarks from this scribe will surely be termed blasphemy.

Så istället slår denne fegis ned på att Raghuram sjöng över tiden, trots att det var kvällens sista konsert:

Manodharma is a double-edged sword; it can be used anyway for as long as one wants. That’s the speciality of Indian classical music. Yet, one has to follow certain ethics – musical discipline, aesthetic proportion, logical distribution and time management – when one performs on a prestigious platform. Even veterans try to sum up their music with their eyes on the clock; it is indeed surprising that this aspiring artist seemed to be completely oblivious to it.

Dumheter – som bara förstärker intrycket av ett trist och ogint etablissemang som försöker trycka ned det unga geniet. Sjutton läsare kommenterade innan The Hindu stängde av möjligheten:

Chithra Gopal: What was ultimately delivered by Abhishek will go down in the history of Music Academy.

Deva: Let us be honest to appreciate and accept the good quality of music delivered and not harp on quantity.

Sulochana: I was there for this fantastic concert … The Hindu really needs to change its stagnant reviewers.

Sriram: This young artiste has not been given his due by the media, perhaps because of some vested interests indulging in wire-pulling fearing his emergence. There is definitely a sense of insecurity and fear he has created in the minds of the so-called big-wigs.

Shankar: This is one of the best concerts I have ever heard (and I have listened to a lot of concerts in my lifetime) … Abhishek is so brilliant he becomes a threat to the big-wigs.

Vilvadri Iyer: In the end, people will not remember this landmark concert by this lopsided review or by the exceeded time limit. This concert is an all-time classic in the life of the Music Academy. History will remember it as such.

Udbhav Mareechi: Creative musicians not only deliver the grammatical but usher the listeners into the unknown and hitherto uncharted territories of music and immerse them in the sea of music, and the result is monumental. Abhishek Raghuram is a musician of such calibre and not to be criticised for his non-time-consciousness, because what he delivers is timeless dimensions …

Sailakshmi: I was a part of this momentous concert that has made waves in the history of not just the Music Academy, but Carnatic music. In a rasika’s heart, there dwells the purity and sanctity of music, not time … Abhishek deserves much more than the two historical standing ovations that he got that night.

Madhu Jayaram: He passed with flying colours in the Academy, which is a big stage. I think this is a good opportunity for a leading paper like the Hindu to think about improving the standards of their critics.

Vidhyashree Purushottam: The review is pathetic … the reviewer’s approach to music and concerts reflects how superficial our times are.

Viyaj: This most definitely begs the question as to whether The Hindu Group and family is not actually using its influence on the Chennai music scene in a particularly problematic manner … I was fortunate enough to have access to a very good recording of the concert and it is really beautiful.

Deepak Raghavendra: This was the same elation as when TN Seshagopalan was discovered many years ago, that I saw as a teenager. At that time, no one nit-picked like this. When a genius is discovered, let us celebrate it instead of nit-picking.

Raman: I was fortunate enough to be there to listen to the concert and it was Deva Gaanam – surely, the Lord was listening. Now it is time for all others to listen to Abhishek as well.

Radhakrishnan: I had the opportunity to listen to a recording of this fabulous concert. I agree with everything that previous readers have commented.

Ett par kommentar är mer avvaktande: signaturen Sampat tycker nog ändå att Abhishek kunde presenterat en Todi med större klassicism just på Music Academy, och signaturen ”Madhya Sthayi” manar till måtta: ”do not heap sky-high accolades at this young age”. Ett sista inlägg från signaturen ”Kumar” är uppenbarligen författat av The Hindus redaktion, precis innan de stängde artikeln för kommentarer: ”I think it was a great review by Swaminathan” etc. Det är inte det intrycket som består när man läst alla sjutton, eller för den delen när man läst själva recensionen.

Fast alla kritiker står inte på etablissemangets sida. Deccan Chronicles recensent Sharada Ramanathan är nog mer översvallande än fansen själva:

Abhishek’s performance at the Academy may well go down in history as one of the finest Carnatic concerts ever experienced … Abhishek took the veterans’ proscenium like three veterans rolled into one: He swayed like a spiritual swan [!] as he belted out [sic] kriti after kriti, raga after raga, with the electricity of GNB, the aesthetic sense of Lalgudi and the modulations of Balamuralikrishna.

Fansen på är förstås mer insatta än tidningarnas brödskrivare, och över lag positiva:

Ashoksubra: In my long years of listening, I have not seen this sure-footed exposition in many musicians.

Mahesh3: A futuristic demonstration by Abhishek and Anand with great support by KVG and minimalism by Mysore Srikant gave us a glimpse of how Carnatic music is going to change in the era of technological musicology … his variations, layering and channelling of a zillion different sounds and phrases were just so innovative and out of the box – some breezy, some deeep, much of it foreign with a tinge of traditional to keep everyone clued in – I don’t think any traditional »review« or opinion of such a concert will be proper … what everyone could agree on in the hall is that we are in the presence of genius!

Rajeshnat: He has taken a lot from TNR’s famous Todi recording.

Rsachi: It’s a bit like Krishna without his peacock feather or sambar without tamarind … He has tackled Todi with a strong emphasis on the upper half of the octave and pointedly avoided the Ga such that the raga sounded a lot different from its well-known personality.

KVN_bhakta: A very carefully planned rendition. At every stage he is taking a key pidi and elaborating around it, step by step moving up the octave, showing different shades of each note – with phrases that are angular, oscillated, through brigas, and even Patiala-gharana-like tAns. There is no doubt in my mind that enormous thought and practice went in to the alapana.

Surmulen är bara engelsmannen Nick Haynes ( ”I can only say that I wish he had stuck to Kanjira … he will not be the only »genius« on my avoid list”.

Panchamkauns har förstås fått tag på och genomlidit en publikinspelning av nästan hela konserten (den korthuggna RTP:n slutar i fiolsolot). Och visst är den storartad, denna Todi, och visst är den lite okonventionell. Och visst har signaturen Rsachi lite rätt i att det är ont om gandhar. Men lika fascinerande som Abhisheks alapana är överdrifterna det gås till från alla håll. Man förstår att musiken anses ha varit bättre förr, för alla som varit på en riktigt bra konsert vet att det brukar låta så här efteråt och man genuint brukar känna så här efteråt, och förr hade man ju bara dessa euforiska rapporter att gå på, inga inspelningar av konserterna.

Så överdrifterna åt det hållet är inte så konstiga. Det är en storslagen alapana, och den var knappast sämre live än på en publikinspelning där det pratas och käkas nötter bredvid micken. (Som tur är lär den väl komma ut på skiva, som allt annat som händer i närheten av en mikrofon i södra Indien – en soundboardinspelning sägs förresten redan ha läckt ut men sånt kan inte vi få tag i.) Men överdrifterna åt andra hållet? Står verkligen kulturen och faller med att en sångare får ovationer för en okonventionell Todi, ens om det är på en kvällskonsert på Music Academy?

Panchamkauns kan inte ungå intrycket att det handlar om något annat. Det Abhishek Raghuram bevisade den 30 december är inget som har med Todi eller hans egen storhet att göra, utan att även sydindiska lyssnare föredrar lång, utdragen improvisation framför ”repertoar”. Repertoarbitare på både mattor och redaktioner har haft fel i många år – ja, hela Sydindien har haft fel, medan Nordindien haft rätt. Det är förstås inget man bara accepterar när man vill se sig själv som det ”riktiga Indien”, men det är något vi på Panchamkauns alltid misstänkt.



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