This is an exploration of "Raga Malahari" by Balachander, the virtuoso of the veena. "Malahari" is a morning raga with purifying features embedded into it. As such, it's somewhat more introspective than the average evening and night ragas, and moreover is relatively rare in performance (a side effect of concerts generally taking place at night is that morning ragas either become used in abnormal context or are slightly phased out over time). Here, Balachander performs it in a Carnatic style, with the time spent on the raga roughly split evenly between the alap portion and the composition proper (the tanam). As he moves through the alap, Balachander explores every nuance of the scale on his way, and every nuance of the veena at the same time. The deeper notes of the scale are given a bit of extra attention in the tanam as he continues his exploration of the scales. The veena is often played in a rather more stately manner than the now-more-popular sitar, which adds an air of dignity to the music, perhaps, but at the same time takes away a bit from the excitement of the music. The effect is slightly emphasized by the nature of the composition itself, as well as the almost complete lack of percussion accompaniment. For sheer proficiency and virtuosity on the veena, Balachander is the artist to hear. His other albums though (such as the aptly titled Virtuoso of the Veena) might be better items for both newcomers and fans alike.
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AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg