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Customer Reviews

Captivating exposition of the night raga

Regarded as a child prodigy, Shahid Parvez gave his first professional performance in Calcutta at the age of eight. Today he is firmly established as one of the great Sitar players in the modern era of Indian Classical music. He started his training with vocal music and tabla at the tender age of three. By the age of four his father had worked out for him a rigorous schedule of daily 'riyaz' (practice) on the Sitar. Throughout his childhood, he would sit with his Sitar through the night practicing from 10pm until 4 o' clock in the morning, before leaving home for school! Despite receiving the praise of critics at such a young age, his father was determined that fame should not go to his head, and instilled in his son the virtues of humility. These values lie at the heart of Shahid Parvez's music today. As he points out, 'if an artist can stay humble and focus only on his art, he rises way beyond his talent and his craft'. Shahid Parvez hails from one of the most important Indian musical families in recent times. His uncle is the Sitar legend Vilayat Khan, a hard act to follow for any aspiring musician. Through a single-minded determination, guided by his father Ustad Aziz Khan, Shahid Parvez has been successful in creating a unique style of Sitar playing with universal appeal, successfully incorporating both gayaki ang (vocal style of playing) and tantrakari ang (instrumental style). Shahid Parvez has always believed that to play an instrument from your soul, then one should first learn to sing, 'you play an instrument with your hands, but the sounds really emanate from your heart'. He is not afraid of innovation, but as far as classical music is concerned he is a purist and a perfectionist. He is not attracted to the fashion of creating new ragas, believing that the established ragas, composed over the centuries by great masters, hold within them enough capacity for unlimited scope for improvisation. This performance was recorded live at the 2003 Saptak Festival in Gujarat, India, an annual festival which regularly invites Shahid Parvez to play alongside the best musicians of the Indian sub-continent. Here he is joined by Kumar Bose, a leading exponent of the Benares style (or gharana) of tabla playing. Hailing from Calcutta, a centre of excellence for tabla playing, Kumar Bose first came to prominence through his extraordinary performances with Sitarist Ravi Shankar in the 1970's. Under the guidance of his guru, Pandit Kishan Maharaj, he has gone on to establish himself as one of the most influential tabla players of modern times, himself producing many renowned disciples who are well equipped to carry on this valuable tradition. Although the tabla player's primary role is to provide rhythmic accompaniment to the soloist, there is a playful, and sometimes intense musical dialogue that carries on between the two artists throughout the performance, giving license for the tabla player to demonstrate the extent of his skills. Raga Bageshri is a popular raga of the late night, which is meant to depict the emotion of a woman waiting for reunion with her lover. It is said to have been first sung by Mian Tansen, the celebrated court singer of the Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century. The recital begins with the traditional alap, a slow, introspective exposition of the raga, outlining key musical phrases which define the romantic mood of Raga Bageshri. Each raga has its own specific melodic shape which distinguishes it from other ragas which can use exactly the same notes, but have a completely different character. The Jod and Jhalla (track 2), are a development of the alap, with the important addition of a rhythmic pulse, outlined by the strumming of the chikari (drone) strings on the Sitar. During this section of the recital, the pace and intensity of the playing increases, and with the essence of the raga captured, the artist is free to express his virtuosity, at the same time careful not to sacrifice the essential character of the raga. The first composition (track 3) sees the introduction of the tabla accompanist playing an eleven beat rhythmic cycle, known as Rudra taal. Kumar Bose introduces the tabla with a short solo which exhibits his mastery over the vast range of tones produced on the tabla. Kumar Bose often mimics the melodic phrases of the sitar on the tabla while taking care not to disturb the flow of the performance. Two further compositions follow, first in a medium tempo twelve beat called Ektaal (track 4), and then in the faster paced teental of sixteen beats (track 5). As the recital draws to an exhilarating climax, the improvisations of the sitar and tabla become more intricate, both artists demonstrating the full extent of their mastery. John Ball

Ustad Shahid Parvez - Musician's Musician

Ustad Shahid Parvez – King of Melody & Rhythm It could be said that Ustad Shahid Parvez is one of the finest Sitar exponents the world has known. Ustad Shahid Parvez hails from the revered Etawah or Vilayatkhani Gharana (family/school of Hindustani music). Generally speaking, the hallmark of this gharana is the adaptation of the Hindustani classical vocal idiom to the art of sitar playing. That this Gharana is renowned for its technical virtuosity in the areas of left hand dexterity Meend (legato) & right-hand speed is very well established over generations of recordings. While Ustad Shahid Parvez exemplifies this gharana’s characteristics through his mastery over the aforementioned repertoire, he also adds some new dimensions to it. Close attention is paid to every note and each note is rendered with utmost clarity, regardless of speed – no mean feat given the speed at which he plays! The main areas where Ustad Shahid Parvez may differ from other members of this gharana are: - Adoption of the Dhrupad (as against Khayal) idiom to Alaap (exposition) and Jod phrasing. It could be argued that Pandit Buddhaditya Mukherjee also did the same but the adoption is unequivocal in the case of Ustad Shahid Parvez. This lends a very meditative quality to his Alaap. Careful examination may also reveal that the timing aspects of the Jod section are arguably superior. - Mastery over various taals (rhythmic cycles) at various layas (tempos). Most of the other artists in this gharana are most comfortable with Teentaal (16 beat cycle) and medium and faster tempos. - His rendering of legato is arguably superior to his contemporaries – the work is far more subtle and the control unmatched. This CD is a superb illustration of this facet. This CD is ample testimony of the aforementioned. Ustad Shahid Parvez playing Raga Bageshree in various rhythm cycles - folks, this is as good as it gets! This will likely go down in history as the "how to play Sitar" CD.

A Truly Well-Composed Album

This one of the best sitar compositions in a while. It is beautifully composed, played, and recorded. I highly recommend this album for any fans of traditional sitar.

Sitar, Kumar Bose
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  • $4.95
  • Genres: World, Music, Asia
  • Released: 2003

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