Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sharan Rani (Backliwal): The Music of India, 1962

This World Pacific album of Sharan Rani Backliwal's music was her American recording debut, and wikipedia credits her as one of the first Indian artists to record for major label releases in the West.  A student of Ali Akbar Khan, she was apparently the first female sarod master.  She instructed many gifted students and inspired many women to dedicate themselves to the study of Hindustani classical music.  She passed away a few years ago, but she was truly a person who lived music; she apparently played concerts in the late 30's when she would have been 10 years old at most.  She owned a vast collection of over 350 instruments, some of  them dating from as early as the 15th century, which is housed in a museum.  She wrote extensively about music and is noted as having both an aesthetic and scholarly understanding of art. 

Her deep musical vision drives this album.  Her sound is bright and lush and the recording captures the richness of the sympathetic strings and masterful slides.  On tabla is the always impressive Chatur Lal giving Rani strong, steady support.  The tambura was played by Robert Garfias, an ethnomusicologist who now teaches in the anthropology department at UC Irvine.  The third track is primarily a tabla solo, but the sarod playing on Raga Kasui-Kanada (a midnight raga) and Raga Lalit (an early morning raga) is beautiful.  NB: this album is best heard at high volumes.  Sorry about the poor sound quality of the video, it was the best sample I could find of this album.

Recorded November 21st, 1961.

Sharan Rani: sarod
Chatur Lal: tabla
Robert Garfias: tambura



  2. Very beautiful, and an inspirational musician (and Chatur Lal as brilliant as ever)

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