Recording information: L'Hospice De S‚clin, France (09/26/1991-02/27/1992); Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth, Wales (09/26/1991-02/27/1992).
The three-CD set Hindustani Classical Vocal features three prominent north Indian vocalists: Sulochana Brahaspati, Girija Devi, and Shruti Sadolikar. Each one of the set's CDs is dedicated to one of these particular Hindustani divas. On disc number one, Sulochana Brahaspati presents "Raga Bilaskhani Todi" and "Raga Mishra Bhairavi." Accompanied by the legendary Sultan Khan on sarangi (lute) and the tabla player's tabla player Anindo Chatterjee, Sulochana Brahaspati performs "Mishra Bhairavi" with rhythmic sophistication and "Bilaskhani Todi" with solemnity and sobriety. The second disc features a relative newcomer in the khyal style of singing, Shruti Sdolikar, accompanied by Anand Krishna Kunte on sarangi, Uma Mehta, Kamaljit Kaur on tamburas, and -- once again -- the highly respected Anindo Chatterjee on tabla. Shruti Sdolikar and her ensemble deftly recite the late morning "Raga Miyan-ki-Todi," the seven-beat morning "Raga Bibhas," and what may be the most popular raga, "Raga Bhairavi." The third and final disc in this set features the eminent vocalist Girija Devi. Backing Devi up is the widely known Ramesh Misra on sarangi, the charismatic Subhen Chatterjee on tabla, and Sudha Datta on tambura. Devi and her group perform three ragas: the nocturnal "Maru Bihag," "Desh," and the religio-erotic "Pilu." The final cut on the disc is not a raga, strictly speaking. Rather, Devi's fourth piece is performed in the dandra style of light classical music. Though no CD set could ever do complete justice to the variety and richness that exists in the Hindustani vocal scene, this CD set comes pretty close. With stellar performances by Sulochana Brahaspati, Girija Devi, and Shruti Sadolikar, Hindustani Classical Vocal should be heard by Indian music experts and neophytes alike. ~ John Vallier