Here's a classic tape from the essential Kusuma label featuring Ki Nartosabdo's super gamelan group Condong Raos. There's really no way to consider contemporary Central Javanese karawitan without factoring in the legacy of Ki Nartosabdo (1925-1985). Born in Klaten, a large sprawling area that connects the cities of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, he grew up situated between two deeply rich yet distinct cultural centers. Nartosabdo was first and foremost a wayang kulit dhalang, but his creative genius went beyond shadow puppetry. He was a painter, kroncong violinist, master gamelan musician, and, most notably, a proficient composer of gendhing. He also formed and led the gamelan group Condong Raos. Under his leadership Condong Raos reached amazing heights of virtuosity. When this cassette was recorded, karawitan Jawi was experiencing a golden era of popularity - campursari had yet to take hold, klenengan were way more abundant, and, as an actively performing gamelan, Condong Raos reigned supreme. This tape captures a group of extraordinary Javanese musicians at the height of their game, performing classic gendhing with total dedication. It's all effortless flowing energy and expression. Great music and worth a listen.
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