Cantatas and Concertos of Bach. Carolina Baroque under the irection of Dale Higbee. CB-109. Price $10 + $5 postage & handling - send check to CAROLINA BAROQUE, 412 S.Ellis St., Salisbury, NC 28144-4820 http://www.carolinabaroque.org/.
The Carolina Baroque of Salisbury, NC, has been in operation since 1988. Its director Dale Higsbee, a retired professional baroque flutist, has assembled an impressive roster of professional musicians from central North Carolina, familiar with baroque performance practices. Over the years the ensemble has issued nine CD albums, all taken from their live performances.
Their latest, the 2-CD set, Cantatas and Concertos of Bach, was taken from a performance last March at the St.John's Lutheran Church in Salisbury, NC. It contains Cantatas No.84 (Ich bin vergnügt mit meinem Glücke), Cantata No.199 (Mein Herze schwimmt im Blut) and an aria from Cantata No.105. Also on the CDs are the Brandenburg Concerto No.5 and the one unusual composition, the A Major Harpsichord Concerto BWV 1055 transcribed for a rare size of recorder called, according to Higbee a "third flute" because it is pitched a third higher than the standard alto recorder in F.
Both cantatas are for soprano solo, sung here by Wake Forest University's Teresa Radomski. She has a clear voice and good pitch control but a little too much vibrato. Her German diction is excellent. The harpsichord in the Brandenburg Concerto is played competently by organist and harpsichord player Daniel Hannemann. Higbee himself plays the recorder in the Concerto in A, and his playing is the highlight of the recording.
There is some audience noise, but not enough to annoy. They should have edited out the meager applause from a seemingly near empty hall, which adds nothing but annoyance. The recording is very bright, causing the violins, soprano and recorder to occasionally sound shrill. A nice, competent and very reasonably priced package overall, showing that good classical music in N.C. is not for the major metropolitan areas only.
For more information on the performers and their other CDs, click on "Recordings" on their website http://www.carolinabaroque.org/ .