The chamber works that Handel wrote during his early stay in Italy provided a treasure trove from which the composer drew throughout his lifetime. Yet these small-scale pieces would be wonderful listening even if they weren't the source of some of Handel's greatest hits. Although Handel's Italian cantatas are receiving renewed attention and excellent new recordings (such as the Glossa series), his duets and trios remain neglected.
Now come Julianne Baird and colleagues with a thoroughly delightful recording that helps fill this major gap in the Handel discography. Most of the pieces on this disc are not readily available elsewhere, and many are likely to be CD premieres. Earlier recordings (by Zadori and Esswood on Hungaraton, and by Coe and Bowman on Hyperion) included the soprano-alto duets. Here Baird performs duets for 2 sopranos (with Laura Heimes), and for soprano and tenor or bass, as well as the two trios. Gramophone's reviewer describes the instrumentalists as "impeccable partners among the vocal splendor."