This is one of the best recordings of classical Indian music you’ll ever hear. Before an appreciative audience, sitar maestro Chaudhuri explains the structure of Desh, an evening raga often performed during the monsoon season. He begins with a serene, alap, a slow, measured introduction to the raga. He flawlessly plays both Maseet Khani (slow) and Reza Khani (fast) gats (compositions.) This fixed composition section begins when the tabla (drum) enters. Raga Desh is followed by two charming folk melodies of Bengal. The concert concludes with an instrumental version of Vaishnava Jana To, Gandhi’s favorite bhajan (Hindu devotional song).
Winner of the Padma Bhushan, one of India’s most prestigious awards, Pandit Debu Chaudhuri, was a legendary figure in Indian classical music. He was born in 1935 in what is now Bangladesh. He took up sitar at an early age. He was a disciple of the great sitar maestro, Ustad Mushtaq Ali Khan of the Senia Gharana, the traditional school of Indian classical music named after Tansen, the father of Indian music. Debuji’s playing was noted for its sweetness and sensitivity. He was the long-time Dean of Fine Arts and Head of the Department of Music at Delhi University. He was the beloved guru of AR’s David Barsamian. Debuji and his son Prateek, also a noted sitar virtuoso, both passed away in New Delhi during the Covid-19 pandemic in May 2021.