Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

The Ravi Shankar Collection
Six Ragas
Ragas Jog, Ahir Bhairav and Simhendra Madhyaman
(Disc 1)
Ragas Bairgi, Nata bhairavi and Marwa (Disc 2).
Ravi Shankar - Sitar, Chatur Lal - tabla, and Prodjot Sen - tamboura,(Disc 1)
Alla Rakla - tabla, and Shyam Bul-Nagar - tamboura (Disc 2).
Disc 1 recorded in mono in London in 1956, and Disc 2 in New York in 1968.
EMI CDM567310-2 and CDM5 67311-2 [54.51] [46.04]
                 Crotchet                         Crotchet  [both midprice]

This is a little different than the usual discs which I have reviewed so far, and these two discs have given me a tremendous amount of sheer pleasure.

EMI have seen fit to release Shankar's first ever LP and another early black disc recording. The first disc is in mono because the original stereo tapes have been damaged. This is in no way a problem as the recording has such an immediacy that you do not notice too much difference between the two discs. The sound has an "in your face" quality about it and there is more than enough going on to hide the mono provenance of one of the discs. It is often much more exciting to listen to than more 'accurate' recent digital offerings.

These were made at the time when George Harrison and many other would-be gurus and/or students of gurus were causing concerts of Indian Music concerts to be mobbed and followed with a frenzy similar to that of current pop stars. Ravi Shankar obviously found himself in the right place at the right time. Because of this, he was able to establish a style of playing all his own and has been copied by many many artists since.

The main difference between these two discs and more modern offerings is that the modern issues often allow the artists to improvise at much greater length and so the listener has a much better opportunity to appreciate the player's skill at improvisation of the ragas.

Ravi Shankar represents the Hindustani style of playing and is noted for his ability to play in a great variety of different rhythms. The normal 16 beats (tintal) rhythm is no problem to him, playing as he does without any problems 13, 15 or 17 beats. Part of this is no doubt due to the fact that Shankar's own guru did not play, and so Ravi Shankar had to develop his own style and was not lead into following his own teacher, as many contemporary players do.

You will find much pleasure to be had from listening to these early recordings played by an absolute master.

John Phillips

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