COMPOSERS: Ustad Nishat Khan
WORKS: Ustad Nishat Khan (sitar)
PERFORMER: Ensemble Gilles Binchois/Dominique Vellard
CATALOGUE NO: ARNR 1096
Meeting of Angels takes Nishat Khan’s sitar into a genuine collaboration, on shared modal scales, with the Gregorian repertoire of the fluent, mixed-voice Ensemble Gilles Binchois.
Some listeners get itchy about this sort of work, though it seems to me that preaching purity is a musical equivalent of racism that would not be tolerated in other forms of human expression. The question is, does the music have something personal to say? In this case it does.
Nishat Khan, from the improvising tradition, has to do most of the accommodating, and the results often share the freshness of Jan Garbarek playing with the Hilliard Ensemble. It is not clear how spontaneous the performance is: there are signs of editing. Otherwise the only obstacle is the intensely Christian text, which might leave some sensitive souls thinking they must switch doctrines on and off, though there is no clash of feeling with the Muslim instrumentalist.