Thursday, September 10, 2009

Amrut Ras by Lakshmi Shankar : Divine Melody

Lakshmi Shankar has been a celebrated singer well known in the realms of Hindustani Classical music for more than half a century and is credited with popularizing Indian Music in the west. Her wide repertoire includes Thumri. Kajri, Bhajans etc. Her age-defying voice is a testimony to her command over her singing. Her recordings with HMV mostly done in the 60’s and 70’s are yet to be released in their entirety in CD. Her other recordings has been through Music Today in the Shringar series released in early 90’s.Most of her later releases have been through European recording companies. The Album in review is Amrut Ras released by Audiorec Limited,U.K.

In this Album of devotionals, Lakshmi Shankar has given a sensitive performance from the devotional traditions to the accompaniment of only Tabla and Sarangi. The playing of Tabla by Partha Sarathi Mukherjee and Sarangi by Pt. Ramesh Mishra are notable creating the mood for the divine melody transcending the limitations of being mere accompaniments.

The opening number is the Meerabai number Eri main to prem diwani.. sung in Raag Bhimpalasi .Meera says that none but the wounded know the pain of love’s wound. The Sarangi piece perfectly highlights the pathos and anguish suffered by Meera. The second number is again a Meerabai song, Daras bina dhukhan lage nain..(Without a sight of you my eyes feels pain…).The divinity of the Lord expressed by His physical beauty is what Meera longs for to have a glimpse. Sung in Raag Nat Bhairavi, the number is spell- binding.

The succeeding two numbers are again classic Meera poetry Hoji Hari tum kit gaye neha lagaaye.. and Jo tum todo Raam main nahin todu.. Lakshmi Shankar renders these numbers in Raag Todi and Raag Kirwani respectively. Her expressive voice aptly brings out the sentiments of Meera spell bound in devotion to her Lord.

The next number is Kabir’s Maati kahe Kumhar ko tu kyun rounde mohe.. Kabir making a mockery of the transitory nature of the material world says that the potter who moulds his clay should remember that his ultimate fate is to return to the clay himself. This beautiful poetry in metaphors has been sung in Raag Pahadi.

This follows again with a Meera number Mere to Giridhar Gopal.. sung in Mishra Pahadi. The rendition of this song has been done with a sense of deep and ardent devotion imbuing the surroundings with spirituality. Raidas’s Prabhuji tum chandan hum paani.. follows the number sung in Raag Ahiran. The devotee-poet sees his relationship with the Lord as inseparable as the sandalwood which requires water to form the paste. The vocals in this number communicate the sublime feelings.

Tulsidas’s best-known hymn Sri Rama Chandra Kripalu bhaja mana.. sung in Raag Abhogi forms the last number of the Album. This solemn hymn in praise of Lord Rama has been sung by many eminent artistes. Lakshmi Shankar adds a new dimension to the rendition to the perfect embellishments of Tabla and Sarangi pieces.

This Album released in 1991 has of late been available by the Indian subsidiary of Audiorec Ltd. in the label of Audiorec Classics. (This review has earlier been published in