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kaushiki chakraborty desikan indian classical vocalist
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Indian vocal recordings tend to appeal to South Asian audiences more than Western ones. Maybe it’s the language barrier (although many Indians tell me they can usually understand very little of a vocal performance) or the heavy-going mannerisms that much of the vocal music utilises. However, Kaushiki (she seems to have dropped her surname Chakrabarty for this disc) is someone who breaks those barriers down in an instant. The daughter of the celebrated singer Ajoy Chakrabarty, Kaushiki won the Asia category of the BBC Radio 3 Awards for World Music in 2005. This recording shows how deserved that award was.

 Aged only 27, Kaushiki has a wonderfully pure and focused voice that seems to stop time in the slow alap of the opening dhrupad in the evening ‘Raga Poorvi’. This is followed by a pair of more flamboyant khayals and then an alteration of South and North Indian vocal forms. The South Indian ‘Thillana’, with violin and clay pot, is fantastically playful; ‘Dadra’ is a romantic composition of her father’s with heartfelt sarangi playing, depicting the lovers Krishna and Radha during the Holi festival of colours, and the final ‘Bhajan’ is a stately prayer to the elephant-god Ganesh with violin, featuring her father on harmonium. This first disc – recorded at Sense’s studio in Gujarat – is particularly appealing for the range and variety of its shortish pieces and the diverse instrumentation.

The other two discs are from a live recording made at the Saptak Festival in January. Kaushiki gives a magisterial performance of ‘Raga Rageshri’, with a long, drawn-out musical architecture. After the short alap, the khayal is slow and sustained, although the pace increases towards the end. There are two ‘Bandish’ which include some extraordinary vocal displays. Often these can sound showy, or just silly, but Kaushiki manages to keep them integral to the internal energy of the performance. The closing ‘Thumri’ is relaxed and gorgeously lyrical: perfect for winding down.

 Not surprisingly the applause at the end is tumultuous.

 

— Simon Broughton

 

 
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kaushiki pure   kaushiki swar sadhna   kaushiki a journey begins   kaushiki hamaro pranaam

 

 

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