Divine Love

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COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Navras
PERFORMER: Lakshmi Shankar (vocals), Parthasarthy Mukherjee (tabla), Fida Hussain Khan (harmonium), Ilyas Khan (sarangi)
CATALOGUE NO: NRCD 3515

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Shankar’s voice has an enduring directness and versatility – she was nearing 80 when she recorded these songs last year (2006). The disc opens with a powerful rain song, followed by two equally intense north Indian songs that float over a restless accompaniment, full of shifting sarangi (stringed instrument) and harmonium colours. But the four devotional songs or bhajans, based on 16th-century poems addressed to Krishna by Mira Bai, are the high point. Brighter in timbre and lively in style, they span a range of moods, from playful paint-throwing as commemorated at the Holi festival, through a desolate yearning, to mystical fulfilment. Robert Maycock