Pandit Ram Chatur Mallik

King of Dhrupad: Ram Chatur Mallik in Concert

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Three unusual ragas, recorded in Vrindaban, the religious center of Krishna worship and the home town of Dhrupad, are sung by the last great court singer of Darbhanga in the northeast of India, Pandit Ram Chatur Mallik. "Raga Vinod," being a creation of Mallik's father Rajit Ram, will not be found in any textbook. The "Alap" is sung here in a majestic style, as a pure composition without embellishment or distortion, followed by a Dhrupad with a poem about separation from a beloved. "Raga Sindura" is sung with striking rhythmic improvisations in a "dhamar" style of uneven 14-beat cycles, a tradition of the Bihar province. The text concerns a young girl being reprimanded for not joining in the festivities of the spring rites of Holi, the festival of colors. "Raga Paraj" is sung again as a dhamar with a text about the red Gulal powder and colored water thrown during Holi, concluding traditionally with a fast Sulphakta in ten beats, with a text about Krishna, who is called the dark, beautiful one. This CD is intense listening, more for the edge of your seat than reclining with your eyes closed.

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