Ravi Shankar, Digital Collection Volume 1

Chris Nickson

By Chris Nickson

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Digital Collection Volume 1

Ravi Shankar
The undisputed master of the sitar turns music into sheer magic

Ravi Shankar is the undisputed master of the twinkly-toned sitar in Hindustani (North Indian) classical music. By the time he was championed by George Harrison in the mid '60s he'd long been a star in his homeland — the equivalent of Yehudi Menuhin — and his appearances helped popularize Indian music in the West. On the basis of these expansive live performances it's easy to understand why. The ragas might be sprawling and complex (there are over 6000 of them!) but the easy brilliance of Shankar's playing makes them readily accessible, whether on the introspective opening alaps (improvisations) or the ridiculous technical genius with which he works the melodies themselves, waterfalls of notes showering down as ornamentation or simply a small phrase that turns everything on its head around the rhythm of the tabla. The pieces here are a chance to hear a virtuoso do what he does best — turn music into sheer magic.