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Label:
  WaterLily Acoustics - http://www.waterlilyacoustics.com/
Serial:
  WLA-ES-20-SACD (2 discs)
Title:
  Ali Akbar Khan: Indian Architexture
Description:
  "Indian Architexture"

Dr. Ustad Ali Akbar Khan
Track listing:
  1. Rag Alam Bhairay
2. Rag Hemant
3. Rag Megh - sarand
4. Rag Durga
Genre:
  World
Content:
  Stereo
Media:
  Hybrid
Recording type:
  Analogue
Recording info:
 

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Reviews: 3

Review by LC April 20, 2005 (6 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
The primary purpose of this review is to inform people where this SA-CD can be obtained. No on-line retailer that I could find has any copies. An e-mail from Waterlilly Acoustics confirmed that this two-disc, 111 minute SA-CD is out of print and will not be re-pressed for some time, if ever. Aside from eBay or similar, the one place from which Indian Architexture can be purchased (as of March 2005) is:

The Ali Akbar College of Music in California http://WWW.AACM.ORG

The booklet contains a detailed essay, by an MIT musicologist, that I shall not even attempt to summarize. I will just observe for those completely unfamiliar with Indian classical music that it is, like other Asian classical music, an art of traditions, styles, and regions more than Great Composers and distinct periods, as we are used to in Western classical music. So although the four ragas played here were technically composed by Ali Akbar Khan or his father, they are not really the equivalent of "new classical music" in the West. This is authentic Indian classical music honouring the detailed forms and constraints developed in India over many centuries.

The playing is as good as it gets. Dr. Ali Akbar Khan (he has several honourary degrees and professorships from Indian and American universities) is widely acknowledged as the greatest sarod master of his generation, at least. Swapan Chaudhuri has similar, if not quite as legendary, credentials as a classical tabla player. The music they make together is serious, intricate, moving, complex, and exciting. The ragas have a broadly and superficially similar structure: the tanpura appears, then the sarod, which explores tentatively for some minutes before being joined by the tabla, which in this case is brilliantly controlled and sensitive. Indeed, the power of this instrument can really startle the listener when Chaudhuri lets loose after long passages of deference to the sarod. The interaction and tension typically increase as the raga unfolds. Particularly engaging is the call-and-answer between the two instruments in the Rag Megh-Sarang.

Waterlilly's 1992 minimalist, analogue recording has been an audiophile favourite on vinyl. Lovingly made with all custom-built vacuum tube gear, it was transferred to DSD with a Meitner converter for the SA-CD release. The sound is intimate and pleasing. The image is very clear, with sarod on the left and tabla on the right, and the drone of the tanpura central but appropriately nebulous. The sarod has a great metallic bite to it that sounds raw but not abrasive. The "gulping" sound of the bass tabla and the "ring" of the treble table have a wonderful, visceral purity.

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Review by ramesh April 22, 2005 (5 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This isn't a formal review, but a coda to LC's excellent synopsis. This SACD has the most faithful sound of an Indian classical instrument I have encountered. Everything LC says about the music I heartily concur; though on my system the tone of the sarod, apart from the metallic leading edge, is dulcet and mellow. If people who want to explore Indian classical can't obtain this, I suggest a brief excursion into the Dark Side for the Nimbus DVDA 'Surround yourself with Hindustani Ragas', NI 9008. This is a reissue of ragas, both instrumental and vocal music , from 1987 to 1995. All DVD players will play the stereo 24/48 tracks; you need a DVDA player to access the 4 channel 20/88.2 tracks. Nimbus say the original recordings were in surround, but not the bit nor frequency depth of the original PCM tracks. Even on 2 channel, the sound is better than the equivalent RBCDs.
You get 188 minutes of music for the price of one premium RBCD. Many classical Indian recitals are electronically amplified because of the lack of dynamics in a concert hall setting. Solid state partnering electronics etc accentuate the metallic sibilance, and many PCM recordings sound like a concert recital with this amplification. The Nimbus remastering reduces both murk and digititis from the RBCDs, though it still falls short of this Water Lily disc; nonetheless, the Nimbus is totally recommendable if you have a DVD player( There are no visuals), especially when you factor bang for buck, and the thorough liner notes. Ragas are variable in length, depending on the improvisatory mood of the performers. The Vilayat Khan sitar and surbahar RBCDs on Indian Archive Music typically have one raga lasting from 55 to 75 minutes. Ravi Shankar recorded many bite sized ragas, mindful of Western audiences, the diuretic effects of alcohol in the latter, etc. Nimbus has a good selection from a 12 minute sarod excerpt to a 38 minute sitar example.

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Review by audio.freak December 20, 2010 (1 of 4 found this review helpful)
Not yet a review, since I just got it and am going through it. But just wanted to post that while it is not available from Ustad Ali Akbar Khan's academy, I was able to get it from http://www.fortissimorecords.com.tw/. Will update the review in the new year when I can sit down to listen to it fully.

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