Carolina Baroque, Bach & Handel: Baroque Masters. CB-110, 65:01, ©2002, $15.00, available from the group, c/o Dale Higbee, 412 S. Ellis St., Salisbury, NC 28144-4820, ,

Carolina Baroque is a 15-year-old Salisbury-based group of [in this instance] five musicians, hailing from Salisbury, Charlotte (2), Lincolnton, and Winston-Salem, who like to present works from the Baroque period (1600-1750) in authentic instrument performances. The artists are Dale Higbee, Music Director and recorders, Teresa Radomski, soprano, Edward Ferrell, recorder and baroque flute, Holly Maurer, viola da gamba and baroque flute, and Daniel Hannemann, harpsichord.

The well-crafted program on this release is: the Overture-Suite from Rodrigo , HWV 5, the Recitative and Aria “Ombra mai fu” from Serse , HWV 40, and the aria “Lascia ch’io pianga mia cruda sorte” from Rinaldo , HWV 70, by Handel; Bach’s Italian Concerto in F, S.971; “Three Arias from Rinaldo ” (including the aforementioned one) “Curiously Fitted and Contriv’d for Two Flutes and a Bass,” by Handel; the Vivace movement from the Sonata in G minor for harpsichord and viola da gamba, S.1029, and the Largo e dolce movement from the Sonata in B minor for harpsichord and flute, S.1030, both by Bach; the aria “Nel dolci dell’oblio” from Handel’s cantata Pensieri notturni di Filli , and the aria “Sheep may safely graze” from Bach’s Cantata for the Birthday of Duke Christian of Sachsen-Weissenfels (23 Feb. 1713) , S.208, both for soprano.

This is a live recording from a concert given on April, 21, 2002 at the Lincoln Cultural Center in Lincolnton, NC. The performances are well more than competent and are in general most enjoyable. Alas, all of the drawbacks of a live concert recording are in evidence – sound that is too bright, audience coughing, even a dull roar that I take to be the HVAC system – and they seriously compromise the whole. Furthermore, there are no booklet notes or texts of any of the vocal works. Consequently, because many of the works are readily available in performances by artists of international renown, in their entirety instead of selected single movements, and with much better sound, this essentially vanity production will be of interest primarily to attendees of the performance or friends and followers of the musicians. The recording does suggest, however, that attendance at one of the group’s concerts is a real delight.