Shobha Gurtu

Shobha Gurtu

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Sobha Gurtu might best be known in the West for being the mother of percussionist Trilok Gurtu, but in India she is a renowned performer in her own right, considered to be one of the nation's greatest singers of light classical music, a style which makes use of the same forms as classical but relaxes the rules a bit. The melodies are often borrowed from folk music and the usual subject is love.

On this disc, her first in the West, Mrs. Gurtu is accompanied by Sultan Khan on sarangi (a bowed instrument with sympathetic strings), Shri. Purshottam Walawalkar on Indian harmonium (a small pump organ) and Nizamundim Khan on tabla (the typical Indian paired drums). The singer and the two melody instruments soar on "Paar Karo Kartar," a composition of great majesty by Mrs. Gurtu. (If you're not familiar with Indian classical, a crude approximation might be Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and his fantastic improvisations, only in slow motion.) Mrs. Gurtu has a rich, low voice capable of the beautiful sustains and quavers necessary for her style of music.

This disc would be a good introduction to Indian classical for the uninitiated. In Mrs. Gurtu's hands the style is graceful, passionate and, yes, accessible.

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