Rahul Sharma

Music of the Himalayas

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Rahul Kumar Sharma is a master of the santoor, India's oldest stringed instrument and an ancestor of the hammered dulcimer, and this live album shows the extent of his virtuosity. Accompanied by a tabla player, he shimmers over the melodies (which come from the region of the Himalayas -- hence the title), letting the sounds ebb and flow. Whether tracing a slow tune or spiraling into a ravishing, dizzying improvisation, his command is complete -- as is his communication with his musical partner. The way they work together on the long "Melody of Kashmir in Contemporary Music" is nothing less than stunning; both together and alone they create a total sound, pushing each other along, and taking solos that seem to defy the possibilities of their instruments. It's a tour de force -- but that's true of the entire disc, an object lesson in both the santoor and the playing of ragas and folk tunes.

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