2002 release from the Irish master flautist. While the title and cover art may give the appearance that the disc is geared toward children (and it is), Sir James is much more the sophisticated and passionate musician to provide enough musicality to make this set appealing to much older listeners as well. While some titles may be found on other youth oriented classical discs, Galway introduces titles that make this set quite distinctive, with the inclusion of soundtrack composer Nino Rota's "Five Pieces" (which shines brilliantly) and Phil Coulter's "Lament For The Wild Geese". The disc has something for all ages from one of the world's leading instrumentalist legends.
Music for My Little Friends is a CD for kids in the same way that non-sugary cereal becomes food for kids--if the box promises a prize inside. That is, aside from the title and whimsical cover art, there's not much kidlike about this release. Sir James, the virtuoso Irish flutist who's piped his way into gigs with the world's foremost orchestras and pop stars, is too sophisticated a musician to tone it down for small fries, so instead he gives them a gorgeous, accessible-to-all bundle of classical numbers. A few--Rota's "Five Easy Pieces," Gluck's "Dance of the Blessed Spirits," Debussy's "Mandoline," and Faure's "Berceuse"--positively flutter. Others, like Saint-Saëns's "The Swan" and Coulter's "Lament for the Wild Geese," snap hearts with their sad beauty. If Galway tips his cap to recorder-tooting tikes, it's with "Danny Boy" and Ibert's "The Little White Donkey"; still, the depth and distinguished interpretations of Galway, with backup by the London Mozart Players and pianist Phillip Moll, makes pulling off pure kid stuff impossible. No doubt Galway assembled Little Friends with the likely futile intention of chiseling away at every 4- to 12-year-old's resistance to classical music. What will grab hold, age or inclination aside, is a sense of the passion a single instrument can stir. --Tammy La Gorce