Personnel: Ravi Shankar (sitar); Ravi Shankar; Mrs. Jaban, Mrs. Widya, Sunil Kumar (tanpura); Prodyot Sen (tanpura); Alla Rakha (tabla).
Liner Note Author: Reginald Massey.
Recording information: Akademie Der Wissenschaften (Plenarsaal), Munich, Germa (10/1978/10/1980); Studio des Dames, Paris, France (10/1978/10/1980).
Photographer: Werner Neumeister.
After the death of Mahatma Gandhi, Ravi Shankar was asked if he would perform in honor of the assassinated Indian leader. Shankar fulfilled the request by writing "Mohan Kauns." A four-part homage, "Mohan Kauns" begins with a drumless section--plaintive and sorrowful--before moving to sections that feature tabla (hand drums) and two tanpura (a long-necked, fretless, stringed instrument). Shankar's sitar work soars over, in, and around these accompanists to majestic, stirring effect. The composition is a raga, an Indian form that features a melodic line on which the musicians improvise at length.
For the disc's other two compositions, a raga entitled "Gara" and a tala (a repeating rhythmic cycle) called "Farodast," Shankar is also joined by tabla and tanpura players. In the manner of most ragas, "Gara" builds slowly from Shankar's haunting melodies at the opening to an increasingly rhythmic--even frantic--instrumental dialogue at the song's climax. "Farodast" is a showcase for the tabla player, with particular focus on his complicated improvisations. Even those unfamiliar with classical Indian music, or the spiritual tradition to which it is tied, will find HOMAGE TO MAHATMA GANDHI quite evocative and beautiful.