Volume 6: 1989


Narendra Datar


Raga Records of New York has brought out three Indian Classical Music cassettes by two outstanding musicians of India -- the late Padmabhushan Nikhil Banerjee and Pandit Manilal Nag. An interesting aspect of these cassettes is that they are reproduced from the recordings of live concerts and hence they are free from studio constraints.

In his extremely pleasing style, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee offers three pieces - Raga Monomanjari, Raga Chandrakauns and Raga Khamaj. Monomanjari is a Jod Raga (composite Raga) which is his own creation and is a remarkable combination of two very popular melodies -- Kalavati and Marwa. Kalavati is a very joyful late night melody, whereas Marwa is an early evening melody that portrays pathos. In his rendering, one can feel a very delicate interweaving of these two contrasting moods and a highly intellectual and emotional appeal. Pandit Nikhil Banerjee presents Alap, Jod, Jhala and Gat in Monomanjari. In the second cassette, he performs scintillating Alaps in Chandrakauns and a Gat in Khamaj. In both cassettes, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee has been ably accompanied on tabla by Pandit Mahapurush Misra. The 'Saath-Sangat' in Khamaj needs a special mention. All the Gats have a very beautiful construction in taal as well as raga. Pandit Nikhil Banerjee's threefold mastery of his instrument, the Sitar, of melodic resources, as well as taal is once again evident from these cassettes.

Nikhil Banerjee, Manilal Nag, sixties. Collection Manilal Nag

Pandit Manilal Nag plays another very popular Jod-Raga, Pooriya Kalyan. In the full presentation of this raga (Alap-Jod-Jhala-Gat), Pandit Manilal Nag employs a host of beautiful phrases to develop the raga, interspersing these with attractive rhythmic patterns. His command over taal is apparent within the first few moments of the start of the Gat. On the other side of the cassette, Pandit Manilal Nag presents Raga Mishra Piloo and Raga Khamaj. Both these melodies are towards the lighter side and the presentation is superb. Pandit Mahapurush Misra's sweet and clear tabla accompaniment enhances the already effective rendering. In short, this set of three cassettes claims a special place in the collection of Indian Music connoisseurs and Raga Records deserves to be complimented for this effort on their part.

© 1989 Raga-Mala Performing Arts of Canada

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