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Arvindh Parikh
Bandish Parampara: Traditional Compositions of Great Masters Vol 1 & 2
Navras NRCD 0217/8
Budget Price (2 CDs; 97 mins)
**** (Four Stars)

Great music – and you might learn something

Sitar player Arvind Parikh, helped by his pupil Vinayak Chittar (also on sitar) and accompanied by Anutosh Degharia on tabla, here presents us with 23 famous bandishes or gats (set pieces or compositions) in 15 different ragas, including many favourites like ‘Bhupali’, ‘Behag’, ‘Kedar’, ‘Khamaj’ and ‘Hansadhwani’. Apart from being a recognised musician, Parikh is also a businessman of some distinction, and it was a chance meeting with the late sitar maestro, Vilayat Khan, who readily accepted him as a disciple, that is said to have changed Parikh’s life.

These compositions were intended to be short and sweet, and the longest track on CD one, an exquisite piece in ‘Raga Kedar’, is just over eight minutes long. Parikh provides brief spoken explanations that guide us through the compositions in a way that is illuminating, without bamboozling one with too many technicalities. Although this is a purely instrumental album, most of the pieces demonstrated are derived from songs, since vocal music is considered the highest form of music in India. Parikh is clearly heavily immersed in that mode, having been a disciple of Vilayat Khan, whose style of playing the sitar was called gayaki-ang (vocal-like). The material is very well presented and reveals many characteristics of each raga and gat but the album really comes into its own on the second disc, where Parikh presents a cluster of very similar-sounding ragas – all based on the scale of ‘Raga Kafi’ – and he explains each subtle variation between the different compositions, with the addition or removal of musical notes. This double-album not only makes great listening, but is also a wonderful educational tool that can be played over and over again.

Jameela Siddiqi
Songlines, August/September 2008

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