Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Vilayat Khan & Kishan Maharaj
on CD & DVD


When Time Stood Still Ragas Darbari Kanada and Bhairavi

Ustad Vilayat Khan & Pandit Kishan Maharaj

Navras NRDVD 012-P & NRCD0200

Primarily a tribute to the late Vilayat Khan (1927-2004) and his enduring legacy, his accompanist, the tabla master Pandit Kishan Maharaj is an equally notable figure and this recording brings together two of the most revered veterans of Indian music.

Navras is the largest purveyor of live concert recordings and they have a vast catalogue of CDs. They have recently extended their presentations to DVDs and this is the way that European listeners unable to experience the special atmosphere of concerts by great Indian masters should approach home listening to this music.

I have in the past complained about what we felt to be excessive amplification of Indian musicians in live concerts (back home they are used to audiences of thousands) but this seems to have been moderated more recently (q.v. the memorial concert to Ustad Vilayat Khan at which these discs were released last month).

In his helpful notes Neil Sorrell takes us through the performances, explaining that the flattened 3rd, 6th and 7th notes of the Raga Darbari Kanada ("grandest and noblest of them all") are performed with a distinctive slow vibrato. The popular Raga Bhairavi is akin to the Western Phrygian mode.

The filming is straighforward and unfussy, never distracting or self regarding, and it recreates the intimacy which is a chief feature of Indian Classical music making. Recorded quality is excellent and the atmosphere, with audible audience appreciation of special felicities, potent. Usually during their concerts Indian musicians take some moments to talk with the audience; it would be helpful if those were translated in sub-titles, which could also help to guide listeners through the performances?

With Navras CDs, it would be advantageous for Western listeners if more space in the accompanying notes was devoted to the music itself (with track-timings as guide posts) and somewhat less to biographies of the performers?

This music is important in these times when tyranny of the written score is being challenged by musicians who seek greater freedom for self expression. Everyone should have at least one Indian Classical CD (or, now, DVD) in their collection; but beware, it can prove addictive!


© Peter Grahame Woolf