“If I’ve accomplished anything,” said Ravi Shankar, “it’s that I have been able to open the door to our music in the West.” Born in Varanasi in 1920, he achieved worldwide renown as a sitar player and unprecedented influence as an ambassador for Indian classical music, revealing new possibilities
“If I’ve accomplished anything,” said Ravi Shankar, “it’s that I have been able to open the door to our music in the West.” Born in Varanasi in 1920, he achieved worldwide renown as a sitar player and unprecedented influence as an ambassador for Indian classical music, revealing new possibilities to such figures as George Harrison of the Beatles, jazz saxophonist John Coltrane and composer Philip Glass. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, Ravi Shankar is renowned throughout the world for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. Shankar has been a cultural influence in the West for more than four decades as India’s most recognized and esteemed musical ambassador.
“If East has to meet West, then few musicians have achieved it with such open joy as Ravi Shankar.” The Guardian
This album features Ravi Shankar’s first Concerto for sitar, commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1970; it was the first album André Previn recorded for EMI Classics (now Warner Classics), in 1971. The work was premiered at London's Royal Festival Hall on 28 January 1971 and sets a sitar recital of four ragas (including one by Ravi Shankar’s guru Allauddin Khan, adapted for the concerto) across four movements and within the grand sweep of a full western orchestra.
“The first Concerto was really a snapshot of a moment in history. It was the first time we were seeing raga music across an orchestral arrangement, creating a composite soundscape.” Anoushka Shankar (Ravi’s daughter)
“Shankar’s concerto is a compelling, almost textbook-ideal adaptation of one musical tradition into another. Its melodies and rhythms come from raga, and the techniques of development also rely on Indian tradition, including sections for improvisation by the soloist. But Shankar uses the Western orchestra with imagination. Sometimes he looks for equivalents: Bongos serve as tabla; two harps play scales, echoing the sitar; the strings fill in the tambura’s drone. Sometimes he creates new effects, as in a stunning lyrical horn solo or the wonderful wind and percussion writing.” Los Angeles Times