Ali Akbar Khan

Peerless

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Ali Akbar Khan is an unquestioned master of the sarod, and he demonstrates his mastery of both the instrument and the Indian classical form on "Raga Madhuvatni," a piece that demands a great maturity from the performer. His alaap develops beautifully but in a straightforward manner, with an innate logic but absolute beauty before moving into the jor and jhala. But it's in the epic movement of "Gat in Slow Teentaal" that his artistry becomes marvelously transparent, letting the raga breathe, and making the music transparent with some playing that seems little short of inspired. Kudos too to the accompaniment from Swapan Choudhuri on tablas, who seems to share a telepathic communication with the master, and takes advantage of his short times at the center of the sound. For those not attuned to it, Indian classical music can be very difficult -- there's no doubt about that -- but albums like this, gorgeous and expansive, are the way to make converts. A masterpiece.

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