With much more focus on the subtler nuances of raga ornamentation, resonance and development, this is Indian Classical music as it has never been heard before.
For those who doubt a raga on piano is possible, he teases out the melodies, explores the notes in lengthy alap sequences and even manages to sound like he is bending notes or gliding between them…. the surprising centerpiece is a slow and thoughtful treatment of Blind Willie Johnson‘s Dark Was the Night Cold Was the Ground on which Lal proves an accomplished blues player, and it doesn’t seem out of place.
He breathes life into ebony & ivory, with a melody that leaves the listener mesmerized & transported into a different world
In quieter moments, he’s the Phil Coulter of raga (where the piano is not a commonly used instrument), but at other times the sweep and inventiveness of his improvisations recall Keith Jarret….Lal’s dreamy embellishments and flights of fancy as the musical material slowly unravels emphasizes the hugely different concepts of time and space in Indian music”
Terry Blain, Music critic
Lal is a fleet fingered performer whose best moments can be both highly evocative and dazzling.
The young pianist’s expertise lies in keeping allegiance with the Hindustani classical system and creating whimsical world of ragas for his audiences on the piano-an instrument which has rarely had ragas for company.
Utsav Lal has found a relatively unexplored niche as a pianist within the world of Indian Classical music. Having studied with legendary Indian Classical teachers including Wasifuddin Dagar and Sharat Srivastava, the result is a young pianist with a meditative, patient, powerful approach to the piano.
He displays considerable virtuosity and at the same time restraint from trying chords and such that are the natural domain of the piano but could be an anathema to Raga…His delicate landings on important notes in the raga during alap are a delight as are the rapid movements and swirling phrases during the jod-jhala
Lal mesmerized his audience with a two-hour improvised program over a single droning pedal point…..One experienced an immediate pianistic flourish that was then floating and soon immersed within a sustained, resonant texture. With the aim of emulating a sitar, Lal took the audience through the slowly unfolding form of the raga
Utsav’s music flows spontaneously…His music oozes simplicity and sincerity.
The Economic Times
Indian pianist Utsav Lal has been making waves in the global music circuit as a man of promising ventures for over a decade now. Popularly dubbed the Raga Pianist, what sets him apart from the rest of the world’s pianists is his constant endeavour to make the piano an Indian instrument, by infusing ragas and Indian compositions on the Western instrument.
Sometimes his music is soft and playful, other times it’s strong and assertive, creating its own vocabulary bridging limitations of language, religion or region.
Utsav Lal inventively combines his dual passion for the piano and the Indian Raga & has made it his mission to create a fusion among the two musical styles without detracting from any of their traditional aspects; an endeavor than many before him have found too difficult-.
“A deeply personal pianistic meditation”
“Well before contemporary music and radical improvisation, well before jazz was born and developed across Gottschalk and Jarrett, well before our sounds were written or conceived to be emotional, there was a territory of creativity that led music into outer mental spaces. It was a magic valley where music was like a water flow: the ragas were played with mood and color, with that same illuminating grace that we can hear through the hands of Utsav Lal”
“A brave new sonic world”
“Lal continues to blend the improvisational mystique of Indian classical melodies, particularly Dhrupad-influenced raga interpretations, with the compositional framework of the piano”