Ravi Shankar

Sitar Master

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While many labels have gone out of their way to present the Indian classical music of Ravi Shankar in its correct setting, either utilizing the space on an LP or a CD for a raga that would fit without being excerpted or adding an extra disc to accommodate for the complete work or works, the folks at Double Platinum had no such compunction either in selecting or in cleaning up the sound. Here, without any real distinction for the beginner, is a collection of Shankar playing sitar with his music teacher, the late Ustad Alla Rakha, on tabla. Fair enough, but the way this material is chosen and presented is dodgy. First, there are some complete ragas and some parts of ragas spread over two discs. While it's true that the price is right for budget, it's inexcusable that certain masterworks have been hacked up out of all proportion. Rhythmic sections are placed all over side two with no regard for their context and no explanation of what they are in terms of meter. The full ragas are presented as such with notations on the jacket, but no divisions as to where the section breaks are. As if this weren't enough, there is a horrible echo throughout both discs that is no less than distracting and at times irritating beyond measure. There are many Ravi Shankar compilations on the market; this simply isn't one of them.

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