Ravi Shankar | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Ravi Shankar

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Ravi Shankar's associations with Yehudi Menuhin, the Beatles, and Philip Glass made him the best-known Hindustani classical musician in the world, but it's worth remembering that it was his skill and standing within that tradition that made him so sought after in the first place. The records he made in the 50s and 60s showcased his fleet, immaculate articulation on the sitar, as well as a command of the tension-and-release dynamics that can make a raga utterly exhilarating. He's 85 now, and while his performance of "Raga Mishra Gara" on Full Circle (Angel), recorded live at Carnegie Hall in 2000, proves he's not as fast as he used to be, when the tabla players shift into high gear he's still a thrilling improviser. The second sitarist on that recording, his daughter Anoushka Shankar, is only 24 but has four solo albums to her name, and you have to wonder if she's stepped into the spotlight too soon. The keyboard-heavy mood pieces on her new album, Rise (Angel), desperately need a movie--or perhaps a Peter Gabriel vocal--to hide behind, and she's competent but not especially compelling on Live at Carnegie Hall (Angel), which was recorded the same night as Full Circle. Still, she supports her dad more than competently on the latter disc, and she'll be in the 12-piece ensemble that backs him tonight. The program features singers, dancers, and folk musicians in addition to performances of Ravi Shankar's classical compositions. Sat 11/5, 8 PM, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan, 312-294-3000 or 800-223-7114, $20-$89.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Jackson.

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