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Aural sculpture

Jasraj and Hariprasad Chaurasia celebrate the Khajuraho Millennium Year with specially composed music

Live Inside Khajuraho
Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chourasia
Music Today

Rs 200 (2 volumes)

Built a thousand years ago, the Kajuraho temples celebrate their millennium anniversary this year. Originally 85, now only twenty temples remain. The Chandela kings who built Khajuraho wanted the temples to resonate with dance and music. The town is popular today with tourists who are especially drawn to its erotic sculptures.

The Indian Government and the Madhya Pradesh Government have declared March 1999 to March 2000 the Khajuraho Millennium Year. Earlier this year they invited Jasraj and Chourasia to perform there, and Music Today took the opportunity to record their music inside the shrine of Kandariya Mahadeo. Part of the proceeds, Music Today says, will go towards preservation of the temples.

The cassettes come in a box with details from the Khajuraho sculptures printed in black and white. A booklet with the lyrics of Jasraj's songs in praise of Shiva accompanies the set.

Hariprasad Chaurasia Departing from the usual Hindustani recital with a tabla and harmonium for saathi, Chaurasia has an acoustic guitar playing chords, and two additonal flutes playing counters to create new harmonics within the Hindustani idiom. The phakawaj in addition to the tabla lends a great deal of depth and resonance to the percussion. He starts with the Karnatak raga Malayamaruta. This is like Ahir Bhairav without the madhyam. Serene notes and gliding graces promise a peaceful dawn to the millennium. Though overused, the raga comes across fresh thanks to the flutes which play shehnai-style drones at times and parallel melodies and harmonies at others. Mishra Pilu and Hamsadhwani follow.

Pt Jasraj Jasraj has set to music Sanskrit texts by Adi Shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda. The first piece in raga Gyankali is a dhrupad composition by Raja Jaiwant Singh of the Mewati gharana, who also happens to be Jasraj's guru. To hear Jasraj sing in this stately style is a treat. The pakhawaj (Bhawani Shankar Kathak) adds resonance again. Kala Ramnath on the violin is very good in her accompaniment, but the harmonium (Mukund Petkar) is not audible at all.

Apart from stutis in ragas Desh, Multani and Malkauns, available on tape, the CD offers a bonus track in Darbari Kanada. The sleeve notes by Bandana Malhotra are very comprehensive.

Khajuraho is not a big city, and it took some special efforts to make these recordings possible. Avinash Oak, the well-known recordist, flew in from Mumbai, and even conducted a dry run with his recording equipment. Music Today also hired a power generator, just in case.

S Suchitra Lata

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