Various Artists

Festival of India: A Hindustani Sampler

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Festival of India: A Hindustani Sampler is a collection of music from northern India, both in the better-known classical vein and the folk vein. The album opens up with the somewhat contemplative improvisation on sarangi in the hands of its arguably greatest master, Sultan Khan. After this is a pair of songs from the Bauls, provided by their greatest exponent, Purna Das Baul, accompanied by his wife and son. This is a more rural form of song, but with the slightly more contemporary harmonium as a focal point in the small ensemble. V.G. Jog, the north's answer to L. Subramaniam, provides a simple folk melody on violin taken from bits around India. G.S. Sachdev follows on the bansuri with the evening raga "Hansa-Dhwani," a relatively happy and carefree raga by any standard. The album finishes on the Dagar Brothers (Zahiruddin and Faiyazuddin, the younger set), performing the ancient dhrupad vocal style on "Rag Kambhoji," one of the older evening ragas. Given the extensive length of dhrupad works, the alap is cut out for the purposes of the album, and only the main rhythmic portion is included, which is something worth hearing nonetheless. They might not be at the same level as their predecessors, but it's fine dhrupad still. For a basic look at traditional Hindustani music in both folk and classical forms, this album does a good job of attempting to cover the major bases. While some of the biggest names are notably missing (Ravi Shankar, or any sitarist for that matter), there are some high-rate players here providing some quality sound. Check the album out as a sampler of the various forms in north India.

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