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  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    


Music for My Little Friends
MOZART: Rondo alla turca; COULTER: Lament for the Wild Geese; IBERT, The Little White Donkey, SAINT-SAËNS, The Swan; FAURÉ, Pavane; FAURÉ, Sicilienne (Pelleas et Melisande); ROTA, Cinque Pezzi Facile (Five Easy Pieces); GOUBERT, Madrigal; RAVEL: Pièce en forme de habanera; TRADITIONAL. Danny Boy; GLUCK, Dance of the Blessed Spirits; DEBUSSY, Mandoline, SAINT-SAËNS, Romance.
Sir James Galway, flute and conductor
The London Mozart Players
Phillip Moll, piano
Recorded at Whitfield Studios, London February 16 and 17, and May 6, 1999 DDD
RCA 09026637252 [59:30]


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RCA have given us another in an endless line of cutesy packages of chestnuts and lollipops that seem to be the bread and butter of the major classical labels these days. This time itís Sir James Galway, touting his favorite charity, Flutewise, an organization based in London which helps teach underprivileged children to play the flute. Now lest anyone think that I am berating Mr. Galwayís charity, let me strike down that notion straightaway. The Flutewise cause is indeed noble. And Sir James, whom I have had the pleasure of meeting and talking to once, is a very generous man. So enough commentary about the state of the record industry, and on to the music.

Usually, I find these gem recitals to be tiresome, but I canít say that about this one. Mr. Galway states in his booklet essay that his purpose is to record some of the major standards of the flute repertoire with the sole intent of inspiring young flutists to learn to play them. This is good. And since the passing of Jean-Pierre Rampal, Mr Galway is the worldís most recognized flute player. (Emmanuel Pahud is catching up, but heís not old enough yet to be a legend.)

Ah, and what playing. I donít think that thereís a sweeter sound on earth than the sound of James Galway playing the flute. Although it is meant to inspire children, I have to say that this collection would soothe just about any listener. Many of these pieces are obviously arranged as vehicles for Galway, but no matter. I almost think that the Mozart Rondo alla turca sounds better as a flute solo than as a piano sonata.

Although this is a recital of well-known works, we are still treated to a little bit of unusual fare. I speak mainly of the Nino Rota Easy Pieces and Coulterís lovely Lament for the Wild Geese. One can never tire of hearing the Fauré Pavane, and the Gluck Dance of the Blessed Spirits is just plain gorgeous.

So whatís to criticize about this disc? Nothing musically. Itís a delight for the ears, worthy of any CD collection. However, we canít let RCA off the hook completely. There are no program notes whatsoever. If Naxos can put together packaging that is informative, well written and interesting, then so can the big boys at RCA. If the intent is to educate children, then letís do more than have a nice letter from the maestro in the program book in three languages. Tell us something about the music.

Who should buy this disc? Anyone who wants an hour of lovely music. Give it as a gift and keep a second copy for the end of a tiring workday.

Kevin Sutton


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