Hariprasad Chaurasia / Zakir Hussain / Ravi Shankar

Masters of Indian Classical Music, Vol. 2

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ARC Music tends to make a lot of "budget" albums, ethnic music as performed by artists based in the U.K. or Germany most often. However, they've got entirely respectable contacts throughout the greater musical world as well, licensing outstanding music from various national labels in various countries. A case in point is this album, with material licensed from India's Living Media label. If one were to try to come up with a very short list of the greatest Indian classical masters (primarily in the Hindustani end of affairs here), this would be it. The bansuri is presented in a long, beautiful raga from its ultimate master, Hariprasad Chaurasia. The sitar has a short dhun presented from none other than Ravi Shankar. The sarangi, the poor maligned instrument that is slowly disappearing behind the glamour of the sitar, is presented by the great Ram Narayan. There's a shehnai piece from Bismillah Khan and tabla by Zakir Hussain, scion of the great Ustad Alla Rakha. The album ends on a violin piece from N. Rajam, probably the least known of the musicians here. While an excellent musician, she doesn't have the name recognition of an L. Subramaniam. Her "Raga Jhinjhoti" is of course lacking nothing, however. This is the case for the full album. While a little short for a fully intensive overview of Indian classical music, ARC does an admirable job of pulling together the biggest names and the most representative instruments for some outstanding performances. An excellent starter set for the curious listener.

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