As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, Ravi Shankar has arguably done more to popularize Indian music than any other Indian musician. Indeed, his greatest legacy may be his ability to make Indian classical music more accessible to Western audiences without compromising the idiom itself. Mainly a practitioner of the north Indian Hindustani style of music, Ravi Shankar has nonetheless also experimented with styles from other areas of the continent.
Here at last is the definitive Ravi Shankar Collection - ten discs covering 40 years of the master's recordings for EMI. This set includes collaborations with such luminaries as Ali Akbar Khan, Yehudi Menuhin, Jean-Pierre Rampal, and a host of other musicians both east and west. Besides the ten discs, there is a 27 page booklet (English, German, French) and exclusive access to a website with additional audio and video content. If you are familiar with Ravi Shankar, there is little I can say beyond the fact that the discs are exquisitely mastered, generously full, and contain a tremendous wealth of performances from an incomparable career. And If you have not yet heard the music of Ravi Shankar - one of the greatest improvisational musicians of this, or any other age - this is your opportunity to enter into a musical experience that goes beyond hearing, beyond words, resonating deep into the depths of the infinite soul.
If you are only sampling Ravi then you may want to buy the "West Meets East" Album. This makes a good second, yet it is still worthy of five stars. The mixture of eastern instruments and western structure show up in this album. This is as much Andre Previn as it is Ravi. It is soothing yet carries a predictable tune. Many hybrids as these pieces carry the plus from both cultures. And Ravi does an excellent job of bridging. If you are a purist then you may want to pass over this album. Personally, I could keep it on continuous play.
Ravi Shankar: In Celebration is a compilation box set by Indian classical musician and composer Ravi Shankar, released in 1996 on Angel Records in conjunction with Dark Horse Records. The four discs cover Shankar's international career, from the 1950s to the mid 1990s, and include recordings originally released on the World Pacific, HMV, Angel, Apple, Dark Horse and Private Music record labels. Shankar's friend George Harrison compiled and co-produced the set, which was issued as part of year-long celebrations for Shankar's 75th birthday.