Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Master Sarodist Amjad Ali Khan's "Samaagam" for Sarod and Orchestra
When one of the Indian sarod's greatest living exponents creates a concerto for sarod and orchestra it is nevertheless an event. Amjad Ali Khan has done just that with Samaagam (World Village 468102) with of course himself on sarod and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under David Murphy.
Samaagam to my mind is a rousing success on every level, for the majesty and power of Amjad Ali Khan's sarod, for the orchestral parts and their realization on this recording, and for the total effect of the work as a unified piece of music. The orchestral plays in the spirit and with the tonal nuance and phrasing appropriate to the music.
The orchestra functions in several different ways: as a bringer of timbral color, as a "composite" player engaging with Pandit Khan in a musical dialog, and as the vehicle to express (both with and without the sarod) the sort of compositional themes one might hear in jugalbandi duets. Finally the orchestra plays more involved tutti segments that comment on the themes but in a kind of Indian raga melodicism combined with a western orchestral variational context.
What matters is that the music is successful, absorbing and well put together. It is performed with conviction and passion. I would rank this among the handful of orchestral-Indian classical masterworks I have had the pleasure and privilege to hear over the years. And as always Amjad Ali Khan is a marvel and delight to the ears and the musical soul. A triumph!