Noor Jahan

COMPOSERS: Gulam Hassan Shagan
LABELS: World Village/Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Noor Jahan
PERFORMER: Gulam Hassan Shagan (vocals), Qadir Shagan (vocals), Sajjat Ali Khan (tabla)
CATALOGUE NO: 479012

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If this label has its limits they are that it is North India-centred: a recent compilation called Traditional India (not reviewed here) sidelines the south while happily annexing artists from Pakistan and England.

Of course the styles began long before partition, but the veteran Gulam Hassan Shagan’s NOOR JAHAN on World Village is rightly labelled with the artist’s home country. There are substantial musical differences. Many musicians in Pakistan have had less contact with the West and have preserved and developed their traditions along distinctive lines.

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This album is like a glimpse back in time with a whole family party of accompanists, including a son who shares the singing in quasi-unison and imitation. The longest item maintains an intense slowness and shuns flamboyance, eventually delivering some pace, though it is the earlier stages to which you will be drawn back. Three shorter pieces are a degree lighter in expression.