Shankar: Sitar Concerto and Other Works

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COMPOSERS: Shankar
LABELS: EMI
ALBUM TITLE: Sitar Concerto and Other Works
WORKS: Sitar Concerto and Other Works
PERFORMER: Ravi Shankar (sitar), Yehudi Menuhin (violin), Jean-Pierre Rampal (flute); LSO/André Previn; LPO/Zubin Mehta
CATALOGUE NO: 586 5552
The launch-pad for fusion as we know it now, Ravi Shankar’s collaborations with Western classical musicians go back 40 years and still sound fresh. There’s a certain naivety to the famous encounters with Menuhin and Rampal. The latter’s effort, which opens this selective round-up, starts like Rimsky-Korsakov and soon loses the modal plot altogether, while Menuhin was more aware and stayed confident even when the results would keep coming out like Romanian folk music.

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Most space goes to Shankar’s vehicles for himself and full orchestra. In Concerto No. 1 the Western contributions are light, often elementary, but unfailingly attractive with top-notch work from flute, bassoon and, as an idiomatic tabla substitute, bongos. Some witty exchanges between xylophone and timpani set off an ending which almost matches the excitement of Shankar’s solos. Concerto No. 2 is more elaborate, but after a dramatic beginning it lets its tuttis sprawl, and running over 50 minutes the many attractive episodes just don’t add up. Robert Maycock