Album Review of
Strings for Peace - Premieres for Guitar and Sarod

Written by Joe Ross
June 21, 2020 - 11:59pm EDT
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Music is often used as a vehicle to build community, and “Strings for Peace” illustrates how North Indian classical music can convey the world’s hope for peace, unity and optimism. Multi Grammy award winning classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has a long-standing spiritual connection to India, its music, and transcendental meditation. The four world premiere ragas, composed by sarod virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan, provide soothing music for reflection and meditation. The album also features Amjad Ali Khan’s sons (Amaan and Ayaan) on sarod, as well as tabla virtuoso Amit Kavthekar. The sarod (meaning “beautiful sound” in Persian) is a fretless stringed instrument that offers a deeply rich, introspective tone to create and explore moods. Collaboratively, Isbin’s masterful guitar adds a pleasant, soothing voice of dignified restraint and dynamics to the musical conversations emphasizing intricate scales and melodic patterns. All the musicians demonstrate a visceral understanding of how music connects us all on this planet. Ragas often correlate with certain times of the day, as with “By the Moon (Raga Behag)” and “Sacred Evening (Raga Yaman).” The spiritual and emotional qualities of love and affinity for nature are captured in “Love Avalanche (Raga Mishra Bhairav)” and “Romancing Earth (Raga Pilu).”  Ragas follow a set pattern beginning with a meditative establishment of the mood, followed by introductions of rhythmic elements and explorations by the strings. Only in the final section of each raga does the percussion instrument, the tabla, enter while the guitar and sarod continue to converse with evocative statements of the composition, counterpoint and improvisations. The results are performances of deep feeling and mystical splendor that emphasize the need for peace, harmony and understanding. (Joe Ross, Roots Music Report)