EMI's double-CD collection of Ravi Shankar's works including Western instruments, however, is one of the exceptions, for it adds a great deal even to the conversation carried on by those who have paid attention to the career of the man widely considered modern-day India's greatest musician. The attraction here, in a nutshell, is that this CD set brings together music recorded between 1967 and 1982, much of it only sporadically available up to now. There are two concertos for Shankar's sitar (a large Indian lute with sympathetically resonating strings) and orchestra, plus works he wrote for collaborations with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal. For purposes of comparison, there's also one performance by Shankar alone.
This is a live recording of a concert given by Ravi Shankar in 1993 and released to commemorate his 75th birthday a year and a half later. He is accompanied on tabla by virtuoso Zakir Hussain and on sarod by his own student (and virtuoso in his own right), Partha Sarathy. He begins the evening with his own interpretation of a rare raga, that of jait. He chose the version played here after researching a few possible forms of the raga that have appeared over the centuries (families, essentially, of ragas). After exploring the grounds of jait thoroughly, he moves on to kirwani, a raga adapted by Shankar from the Carnatic system. He draws out a mood of romanticism, eroticism, and happiness mainly, his preferred method of dealing with some of the madhur ragas.
“One of the most masterly instrumentalists in the world today”— New York Times. Here, collected for the first time in a 3-CD set, are all of Ravi Shankar’s recordings on Deutsche Grammophon brought together in celebration of his 90th birthday. For George Harrison he was “the Godfather of Western Music;” for Yehudi Menuhin “his genius and his humanity can only be compared to that of Mozart’s.” No other musician of his time has garnered such glowing and enthusiastic praise.
Ravi Shankar: In Celebration is a compilation box set by Indian classical musician and composer Ravi Shankar, released in 1996 on Angel Records in conjunction with Dark Horse Records. The four discs cover Shankar's international career, from the 1950s to the mid 1990s, and include recordings originally released on the World Pacific, HMV, Angel, Apple, Dark Horse and Private Music record labels. Shankar's friend George Harrison compiled and co-produced the set, which was issued as part of year-long celebrations for Shankar's 75th birthday.
A collaboration between an avant-garde modern classical composer and a traditional Indian/Hindi composer/performer seems as unlikely as ice hockey on the River Styx. However, Passages is a collaboration between Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar and it works quite well. Shankar's smooth style fits nicely with Glass' dissonant orchestrations. There is a great deal of technical data involved here. Both of these artists have long taken intellectual approaches to music. Thus, the liner notes are a bit heavy-handed. The music is brilliant. The symphony dominates the soundscapes, but Shankar's atmospheres are integral to the success of this project.