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Three Ragas [VINYL]

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A Short Biography

Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer was India's most esteemed musical Ambassador and a singular phenomenon in the classical music worlds of East and West. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, he did more for Indian music than any other musician. He was well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. This however, he ... Read more in Amazon's Ravi Shankar Store

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
60 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Ravi's Peak 12 Dec. 2004
By Pharoah S. Wail - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Welcome to Ravi Shankar's best album (4.8 stars)! Recorded in 1956, Three Ragas was his first LP. Pound for pound, it is also as powerful a musical statement as he had ever made, or would go on to make.

That's probably not the most popular thing to say, given the fact that his career has been so long and this is not his most famous performance/album, but the proof is in the music itself. He certainly didn't have the degree of fame in 1956 that he would have just a decade later, but his music was peaking. If I were chatting with someone and they offhandedly said that Raga Jog from this disc was the best 28 minutes of Ravi's officially-released career, I would not be inclined to argue with them. If you've been all ga-ga over Monterey Pop for the past 30 years (or 30 days) but you've never heard this album, you should prepare yourself now. Ravi's Monterey Pop performance is but a shadow of what happens here, even though his performance was the highlight of Monterey Pop itself.

The alap, jor, and jhala in Raga Jog are some of the best of Ravi's life. This alap is much more powerful than the alap in Bhimpalasi from Monterey, and here with Chatur Lal on tabla, the gats reveal Ravi at his all-time high in terms of rhythmic sophistication and plain old-fashioned fire power. Not enough good things can be said about Chatur Lal... one of the best tabla players of his generation. An incredible musician who made everyone better around him.

Rags Ahir Bhairav and Simhendra Madhyamam are shorter, compact performances at 15 and 11 minutes respectively but that is fine, especially in light of the fact that several of the Angel-remastered early albums are made up largely of shorter performances... and again, these 2 are at the top of the heap.

If you can only have one Ravi Shankar album, make sure this is the one. After this, take the previous reviewer's advice with respect to Nikhil Banerjee. Nikhil was unbelievably brilliant... a melodic genius.
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Timeless music 14 Jan. 2005
By William M. Feagin - Published on
Format: Audio CD
Thanks to inspiration from a highly unlikely quarter--Bollywood, of all things!--my wife and I have developed a newfound love of Indian culture. I had long been familiar with Ravi Shankar thanks to his association with George Harrison and his fame as one of the world's best sitar players, but until recently, the only album of his that I had was the live Inside the Kremlin (1988). I always enjoyed that CD, believing that raga could be a challenging but ultimately rewarding listen if one were simply willing to give the music time to move one's soul. This CD (along with two other of Angel-EMI's Ravi remasters) has indeed proven me correct...and well-rewarded.

I was struck by the flawless remastering job, first of all--although this album was recorded in 1956, it could have been recorded yesterday for the freshness and sharpness of the sound. Shankar's performances are beyond reproach--while I wouldn't call this the peak of his career, exactly (unlike one of the previous reviewers), I would say this was a very promising start, and an excellent introduction for anyone to Indian classical music. Raga itself is truly timeless music--it never sounds dated, like some forms of music do, but it is truly the sound of the soul; Ravi even describes "Raga Jog" as the expression of one soul's longing, and you feel this quite strongly.

I purchased this one along with his later work A Morning Raga/An Evening Raga, and had previously purchased Improvisations (his first actual American release, issued by the World Pacific label in 1962 and remastered by Angel-EMI in 1999 as one of the first few titles in the Ravi Shankar Collection series). I highly recommend this music for anyone who truly enjoys world music in general (being one of those myself, something for which I will always heartily thank my wife) and Indian music in particular. For those wishing to explore the Carnatic tradition of South India, I would recommend the late Ramnad Krishnan's 1968 recording Vidwan...also a challenging, but ultimately rewarding, listen.
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Awesome, consistent, and diverse 5 Jun. 2006
By Anton Dolinsky - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is the best Ravi Shankar I've heard so far. You don't get much alap (slow arhythmic introduction to the raga being performed) on this CD, and the reason is that alap can last for as much as an hour, but whoever produced this wanted to put 3 whole ragas (scales plus plus, basically) into the same amount of time.

Anyway, what you DO get is one of the all-time masters of melodic line at peak performance, for an hour. The bunch of this CD is the fast, rhythm-centered sitarwork termed "gat". Not lyrical in a Western sense, but intense, "dancing", unflaggingly inventive twists and turns of melody. Ravi goes all out with one of his favorite tricks here: playing a phrase twice in a row, then playing just the start of it and suddenly veering away into a new melody. A full analysis of all the dozens of ways in which Ravi creates surprise, tension, release, and excitement using just a single melody line would take many pages. To say that he is a master of ornamentation would be just the beginning.

One nice thing is that for each raga you get to hear two different buildups to a climax - the first without tabla (drum) accompaniment and the second, larger buildup, with tabla. It's almost as if there are six performances on the CD, not just three. Very effective - when the drums come in each time, I get the pleasure of knowing that the superlative stringwork still ringing in my ears from the first movement will be topped by the

coming, percussion-accompanied sequel. It is also very nice that the three ragas featured here come from three entirely different melodic families, and create rather different effects.

Based on what I've heard of his music so far, it seems to me that later in his life Ravi Shankar, though losing none of his speed or showmanship, could no longer bring such sheer densely-packed melodic inventiveness to his gats as he shows here(his alaps only got better, however). Whether that's true or not, however, this is a stunning performance and some of the best music most people will ever hear. Get it.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Long overdue reissue on CD 8 Dec. 2000
By "auke_michael" - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is Ravi Shankar's first LP, recorded in 1956, and serves as a fine introduction to his music and Indian classical in general.
I bought a used vinyl copy of this album in the early 90s, and had been looking for a CD issue ever since. Finally, in 2000, Angel Records has digitally remastered and reissued this album. Track two, Raga Ahir Bhairav, is my favorite Indian classical music piece. I would have bought this disc for that track alone.
Don't let the short track list fool you into thinking this is a short album; this CD clocks in at 54:55.
The sound quality of this remaster is quite good, considering the age of the master tapes, though there are a few places where one channel drops out briefly. I rarely notice these moments, and even when I do they don't detract from the quality of the music. The sound is certainly much better than my old vinyl LP!
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Masterpiece 7 April 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Audio CD
This is one of Ravi Shankar's very best recordings, and one of the best introductions to the beauty and grandeur of Indian classical music you'll ever find. All three ragas here are given a masterly performance, particularly raga Jog, which is perhaps my favorite. Ravi's inventiveness and profundity are breathtaking!
Newcomers to this genre will also want to listen to the duet recording of sarodist Ali Akbar Khan and sitarist Nikhil Banerjee performing ragas Manj Khammaj and Misra Mand. Although these two masters were taught by the same guru who taught Ravi Shankar, their style and approach is different from (but just as beautiful as) Ravi's.
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