The world of Indian classical music is easily accessible to enjoyment, even
at a superficial level, and no-one should fail to begin to explore it.
Raga Jaijaivanti, to which this CD is devoted, is built around a major
diatonic scale, with the sixth avoided in ascent and the seventh flattened
in descent (not so different from what happens in our melodic minor). Its
leisurely exposition develops through slow alap and jor towards
a faster climax. After an unhurried hour of solo vina playing, Asad
Ali Khan, said to be the last exponent of an ancient devotional khandarbani
dhrupad style, is joined by Mohan Shyam Sharma on the double-headed
pakhavaj drum, for a characteristically slow and noble composition
in a 14 beat Dhamar cycle.
The rudra vina, belonging to the family of tube zithers developed
throughout more than our whole millennium, is less familiar in Indian classical
music than the sitar. It is now an endangered species, the last great
vina (bin) makers having recently disappeared. Since the
19th Century the vina has had a large flat ivory bridge,
seven metallic strings and some 23 frets, often made from the breastbones
of vultures! Individual timbres result from subtle balances of tension and
response of the strings. Ustad Asad Ali Khan's instrument, with two large
gourd resonators, produces a distinctive and, to my ears, very attractive
bright, buzzing sound.
Recorded in December 1997, this is one of the latest studio recordings released
in the Nimbus Indian Classical Masters series. All are recorded impeccably
and presented with loving care. They are supplied with comprehensive illustrated
notes about the instruments, the musicians and the music.
are earlier recordings on the rudra vina by the revered Zia Mohiuddin
Dagar. I had been privileged to hear him perform with inner calm and
concentration in Paris, in the company of a huge, rapt audience; a frail
old man soon to die, an unforgettable and moving experience. Zia Mohiuddin
Dagar plays a larger instrument, improved to obtain a deeper, mellow tone
These CDs are recommended unreservedly as offering delight and solace to
all with open ears.
Peter Grahame Woolf