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Offering the best of Indian classical music

By Subhash K. Jha, IANS

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Radio Gandharv Collectors' Choice Albums - "Sangeet Sangam" by L. Subramaniam & Pandit Jasraj; "Shared Moments" by Ustad Allah Rakha and Zakir Hussain; "Music From The 13th Century" by Ustad Amjad Ali Khan; "Sawani" by Veena Sahasrabuddhe; Produced by BMG-Crescendo.

Within no time at all WorldSpace satellite radio has become a national preoccupation. The two dozen channels cover every genre of music. From alternative rock and pop to jazz and contemporary Hindi music and nostalgia music from Hindi films...often as you listen to the wide variety of entertainment on offer you wonder if the music can be frozen in time and enjoyed at a later date.

This is precisely what WorldSpace has now done. Some of its best recordings from the classical Indian music channel Gandharv have now been put on CDs.

The recording is of an extremely high calibre. You would probably be at a loss as to why the future of state-of-the-art Indian music shouldn't be on radio if the quality of the content is as high as these four recordings suggest.

Every recording achieves the highest level of excellence. There are no loose-limbed portions in the classical recitals. Nor do the albums suggest anything but a direct and irreproachable attitude to the question of the classical heritage.

Though all four albums are uniformly unique, "Sangeet Sangam" stands out for blending Pandit Jasraj's vocals with L. Subramaniam's violin. I don't think any album has tried this particular blend before.

As the two maestros bleed their art into the splendid grooves, we are transported into a world of amazing virtuosity. Pandit Jasraj's voice hits the bottom-most notes of the musical scale in reposeful rhythms.

"Shared Moments" with father Allah Rakha and son Zakir Husain plays on a percussive feeling, though this time the uniqueness of the combination isn't a USP. Veena Sahasrabuddhe's vocals in "Sawani" are in excellent shape, though again we've heard her go through these special motions before.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan plays "Music From The 13th Century" at the Symphony Centre in Chicago. His ability to hold an audience through unusual sounds is on full display here.


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