Saregama/times square

The aptly titled Rare and Glorious cherry-picks from more than 25 years of recordings cut by Ravi Shankar for his own label, Saregama. The two discs include both ragas with traditional accompaniment of sarod, tabla and tamboura and some tracks featuring Shankar solo or backed only by tabla. Regardless of the format, from the earliest performances, dating back to 1962 and as recent as 1988, the music is consistently compelling and hauntingly beautiful. Shankar became the most renowned modern Indian classical musician for a reason—no one has made the music as accessible as he has while holding on to its age-old tenets—and while these tracks are not intended to serve as a definitive Shankar collection, they nevertheless provide an overview that would serve equally well as an introduction to the genre and the artist or as a supplement to an already bulging Shankar collection. In particular, the tracks featuring tabla legend Alla Rakha, including the opening “Raga Devgiri Bilawal” and the nearly 22-minute “Raga Alahiya Bilawal” demonstrate Shankar’s unmatched ability to examine all aspects of a melody, expound on it thoroughly and tie it up neatly and dramatically.