“My approach to music is very deep. I do not compromise with anybody or anything else in the world. I do not care. I want to really go beyond this materialistic world...not for the sake of enjoyment, entertainment, no. A musician must lift up the souls of the listeners, and take them towards Space.” --Nikhil Banerjee
Padmabhushan Nikhil Banerjee (1931-1986) was one of the greatest sitarists of this century. His music earned deep respect among India's classical music aficionados as well as gaining him a devoted international following. He was the disciple of the two greatest forces in 20th Century Indian classical instrumental music, Padmavibhushan Allauddin Khan and his son Maestro Ali Akbar Khan. Though he recorded many LPs, few were of live concerts, in which his leisurely, majestic raga development was unsurpassed. Mr. Banerjee disliked being recorded, feeling that the process distracted and somewhat compromised the inner meditative quality of his music, and high fidelity live recordings are rare.
To preserve Mr. Banerjee’s legacy and show the full scope of his musical vision, Raga Records is releasing a series of full-length concert recordings. Other Raga releases have articles by and about and interviews with Mr. Banerjee. These texts are available online at http://www.raga.com including ‘My Maestro and Myself’ about Allauddin Khan (Raga-211) and ‘Indian Classical Music in the Western World’ (Raga-214), both by Nikhil Banerjee, and a 32-page interview by Ira Landgarten (Raga-207).
Pandit Mahapurush Misra (1931-1987), a disciple of Pandit Anokhelal, was renowned for the clarity and sweetness of his tabla solos and accompaniment. He has performed and recorded with many of India's foremost musicians.
Rag Chandrakaush belongs to the deep of the night. Closely related to Rag Malkaush, Chandra-kaush has a pentatonic structure, completely omitting the second and fifth notes of the scale, and using a flattened third, natural fourth and flat sixth. Its scale differs from Malkaush in using a natural seventh. Chandrakaush shares with Malkaush a mood of devotion and peace, with added elements of the romantic and the heroic. Ali Akbar Khansahib has said that there's also a feeling like that of a monkey that can't keep still. Indian classical instumental music is derived from vocal music, and the design of the sitar has evolved to allow it to mimic this age old style with a range extending over five octaves, with the musician playing notes that can slide through the best part of an octave by bending the string sideways. Sympathetic strings tuned to the notes of the raga being played ring out when those notes are struck on the playing strings. There are also many strings tuned to the tonic. This performance begins with the alap proper, a floating, freeform solo exploration of the tonal materials and structure of the raga, including one of Mr. Banerjee's signature kharaj sections, going into the lowest notes of the register. The jor (counter 11:50) begins with the introduction of a beat. From here on, the tempo steadily builds toward a climactic jhalla (18:10).
Mr. Banerjee often played rag Khamaj after intermission at his concerts. After a short introductory alap, the tabla joins in, with a gat in rupak tal, a rhythm cycle in seven beats (2:43). During the sitar solos, Mahapurush keeps track of the tal by playing theka, a characteristic series of drum strokes that define the tal: “tin tin na, dhin na, dhin na;” with a flat sound from the bass drum for the first three beats, and a deep whoomp sound under the fourth and sixth beats. A fast gat in 16-beat tintal follows (23:26).