Kronos Quartet and Asha Bhosle — You’ve Stolen My Heart (Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood films) — Nonesuch

by | Sep 9, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

Kronos Quartet and Asha Bhosle — You’ve Stolen My Heart (Songs from R.D. Burman’s Bollywood) — Nonesuch PRO 301696 ****:

The Kronos Quartet has been leading the way in expanding the repertory
for  the traditional string quartet for many decades now, and have
spawned several similar quartets. Now that Indian films from the
world’s largest film industry — Bollywood — are showing up in standard
theaters and on the DVD shelves, leader and first violin David
Harrington decided to create an entire album around the best-known
music written for the Bollywood films — over 300 of them in fact. The
composer was R.D. Burman and the prime performer of his songs was his
wife Asha Bhosle, who sings them here with Kronos. She is thought to be
the most-recorded singer in the world.

These songs are very important to Indian feature films; action
frequently stops during a film while the actors sing about their
dramatic situations. Singers such as Bhosle record the songs first, and
during shooting the actors lip-sync to the recorded tracks. Burman’s
songs are like mini-symphonies, and they are full of unexpected changes
of tempo or mood.  The composer often used music completely
outside of the Indian music world to suggest great exoticism beyond
India’s boundaries. Among influences to be heard in these tunes are
flamenco, swing jazz, circus music, Gypsy music, mariachi, and
psychedelia. Speaking of that last influence, the first tune comes from
a film titled Hare Rama, Hare Krishna and is titled in English “Take
Another Toke.” Kronos had quite an exotic adventure of their own trying
to emulate the musical backing Burman gave his singers.  They used
Wu Man on pipa, sarod, and Indian drummer Zakir Hussain, plus massive
overdubbing, and they recorded in different environments such as hotel
rooms to give a different tone quality to some of the tracks. Some of
the instruments added to augment the basic quartet include keyboards,
gongs, cymbals, “mouth music” and others.

The catchiness of these songs is extreme, and some almost seem to
conjure up sonically the exotic images the films exude. The note
booklet has a short summary of the content of each of the dozen songs,
though no word-for-word translation. Bhosle has a lovely voice which
seems able to handle most anything. I would say this is the most
unusual Kronos album to date.

Songs: Take Another Toke, Relationships Grow Slowly, Beloved O Beloved,
Light a Match, Smoke Rises Across the River, If People Come, Some of My
Things, Beloved Where Would I Go?, Lover Come to Me Now, In Dhanno’s
Eyes, You’re Stolen My Heart, My Love Came Silently.

— John Sunier

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