Follow Your Heart - Mario Frangoulis (Sony Classical): The second album by up-and-coming Greek tenor Mario Frangoulis finds his big, warm voice exploring territory somewhere between Andrea Bocelli and Barry Manilow. The handsome crooner nods to his rigorous classical training in "Adagio" and "Benedictus" and soars in the patriotic anthem "Here's to the Heroes," which he introduced at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. But he really shines in heartfelt ballads in Greek, Spanish, and English like "Come What May," "Bridge of Dreams (I'll Never Forget You)," and "Follow Your Heart." They make this feel-good album a soulful, sunny, Mediterranean pleasure. By Gregory M. LambSkip to next paragraph
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Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble - Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon (Sony Classical): For five years, Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Project has been exploring the rich intersections and divergences among musical cultures along the historical trade route. The Silk Road Ensemble's new CD, "Silk Road Journeys: Beyond the Horizon," is a colorful, ear-pleasing and accessible mix of traditional and newly composed works featuring Ma with 26 outstanding musicians from Mongolia to Japan. Much of the music was created for a television series about the Silk Road and has a kind of blurry, picturesque quality. The most substantial contributions come from Chinese film composer Zhao Jiping and his son, Zhao Lin. Though indigenous instruments sometimes get lost amid the large string complement - creating an overproduced quality - the simpler, more austere works, such as the traditional Chinese "Swallow Song," are often breathtaking. By Karen Campbell
The Little Prince: A Magical Opera (Sony Classical): This 2-CD audio set captures the beauty and simplicity of this new children's opera, which debuted in Houston in 2003. (The full video version made by the BBC is available on DVD and recently aired on PBS.) Academy Award-winning composer Rachel Portman and librettist Nicholas Wright capture the gentle spirit of wonder at the core of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic story of an encounter between a stranded pilot and a sweet and mysterious young visitor. The rich baritone of Teddy Tahu Rhodes as the Pilot and the angelic voice of 11-year-old Joseph McManners as The Little Prince are backed by a strong cast including a children's chorus. No catchy, bouncy tunes for tiny tots here. But this "real" opera should charm older or more patient children - and young-at-heart adults, putting it nearly on a par with "Amahl and the Night Visitor." - G.L.
The 5 Browns (RCA Red Seal/BMG Classics): The Osmonds live again, but this time they're five ridiculously gifted and photogenic young pianists named Brown who all know how to make a keyboard sing. The three sisters and two brothers, ages ranging from 19 to 25, sprang from Utah and attended Juilliard School of Music together. Four of the works on this debut CD of light classics have the novelty of being rewritten for five pianos, including "The Flight of the Bumblebee," "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" (yes, as in the Disney cartoon), and excerpts from "West Side Story." Other tracks include equally showy solos and duets by members of this agreeable gang of five. A flip-side DVD displays videos of two performances and a group interview. A great gift for any budding young musician. - G.L.