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
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.