The first set of eleven original recordings of renowned artistes will be on stands soon.

Even as the city of Chennai is in the midst of a festivity of unmatched kind in the music month of December, Sony Music is readying to launch a range of music from the archival treasure trove of National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA).

Classical music buffs can now listen to the original recorded works of great artistes such as M. S. Subbulakshmi, M. L. Vasanthakumari, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, M. Balamuralikrishna and M. S. Gopalalakrishnan.

Sony has inked an alliance with NCPA, a premier art and culture institution in the country, to release a range of music from the latter's archival treasure trove that includes rare recordings of legendary Indian music artistes.

These albums comprise music of legends such as Pandit Jasraj, Bismillah Khan, Rashid Khan, Nikhil Banerjee, Kumar Gandharva, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Dagar brothers, Gangubai Hangal and Amjad Ali Khan.

Sony Music has just released the first set of 11 original recordings of renowned artistes from the NCPA archives under the title ‘MASTERWORKS from the NCPA Archives'. These albums will be available on stands soon. They will be available across the globe in physical as well as digital formats. “We have permission from these illustrious artistes (or their heirs) and accompanists for the release of their archival recordings stored at the NCPA, says Shridhar Subramaniam, President, India and the Middle East, Sony Music. Over the course of the next few months, many other legendary artistes' music recordings will also be released, he adds.

With the role of archives changing over the years and in order to make this legendary music accessible for masses across the globe, NCPA took a decision to float a global tender for the project. Sony was awarded the exclusive licence for 20 years to commercially release some of the music stored in its archives. “For Sony, the costs involved are in making the products market ready — mastering and re-mastering so that they sound good. More than these costs, there was a great effort in terms of manpower and time to track down the artistes and accompanists or their heirs in many cases and seek approvals for the release of these recordings,” points out Mr. Subramaniam.

“It is a matter of great pride to be associated with such a unique project,” he says. “With the extensive catalogue, we will definitely become one of the leading players in the classical genre,” he adds. As of now, Sony has permission for around 200 hours of recordings. It is confident of securing permissions for more. Initially, Sony is planning to release just the ‘ studio' recordings that were done in a controlled environment by the artistes. Overtime, however, it plans to release even the live recordings that are available in the archives that were made during live concerts since the 1970s.

Preserved in controlled optimal conditions of pressure and humidity in a specially-created studio environment, the NCPA archives have been listed by International Music Collection (IMC) of the British Library National Sound Archive as one of the top 137 archives of the world in its Final Report of ‘Archiving the Music World'. With over 5,000 hours of exclusive audio recordings taken from live and studio performances and 1,200 hours of film footage of musicians — never released in the public arena — the NCPA's archives rank among one of the world's finest documentary resources for Indian music.

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Arts, Entertainment & EventsMay 14, 2012