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Rajeev Taranath
Manan – Meditation
Navras NRCD 0219
Full Price (61 mins)
**** (Four Stars)

Sarod player totally nails it

Rajeev Taranath is among the leading exponents of the sarod, an unfretted string instrument that produces a very similar pitch to that of a sitar but requires many more strings to do so. The metal strings are played by being struck with a piece of coconut shell and usually the fingertips of the left hand are used to stop the string. But other styles of playing, notably that of sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan, use the fingernail itself (rather than the fingertips), producing a more lyrical sound. Taranath’s sarod carries the unmistakable musical characteristics of his gharana (musical style), one defined by one of the greatest musical geniuses of the early 20th century, Allaudin Khan of Maihar (a former Indian princely state). Allaudin Khan trained sitarist Ravi Shankar and Taranath’s teacher, the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan.

Taranath’s style focuses on the purely tantric (instrumental mode of playing) as opposed to gayaki (lyrical), in which the instrument is made to produce sounds imitating the human voice. On this disc, he plays two full ragas, the romantic evening ‘Raga Bihag’ and the any-time-any-place all-time favourite, ‘Raga Bhairavi’. The ‘Bihag’ takes one’s breath away, kicking in with a dramatic flourish rather than the normal slow, pulse-free introductory alap. Even so, Taranath succeeds in establishing a mood that is both spiritual and exuberant right from the start. The ‘Bhairavi’ is rendered with ease and expertise and features some beautiful twists in the fast gat (composed) sections where the tabla of Abhiman Kaushal is also nothing short of delightful – bold and clear, yet softly enticing.

Jameela Siddiqi
Songlines, August/September 2008

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