Friday, March 11, 2011

Pooja Goswami Pavan Sings Classic Indian Ghazals

Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan is an enchanting classical Indian vocalist who currently calls Minnesota her home base. How Shall I Say? (Innova 232) is a captivating program of Ghazals performed in the Hindustani style.

The Ghazals are based on poetic texts ranging in time from the 18th century to the present day. They express the various refined emotional states typical of Indian classical music. Each Ghazal has a musical compositional element based on the forms of a particular rag. Three of the compositions are by Ms. Pavan herself.

These Ghazals are performed in a style that goes back to the twentieth-century master Indian vocalist Begum Akhtar. They are performed in the classical, almost timeless style of an earlier age. Overt vocal pyrotechnics are not at the forefront but instead a highly nuanced melding of text and an elaborate melodic singing style prevails. Dr. Pavan is accompanied sympathetically and movingly by some excellent Indian musicians on sarangi, harmonium and tabla.

I will come clean to say here that I have listened with care and rapture to some of India's greatest vocalists in recordings for many years. I do not have the knowledge of the adept. All I know is what I have heard in unmediated form. But based on that experience I can say truthfully that Pooja Goswami Pavan is an exquisite vocal master with a lovely expressive voice and an extraordinary facility with the phrasing and control of the complicated pitch sequences involved. She is relatively young so she will only get better, I should think.

In the meantime this is a valuable disk showing the sheer beauty of some wonderful Ghazals. It will be a disk I will treasure and come back to frequently as my life spins along. Highly recommended.

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