The world of baroque music is its own fascinating cosmos, and one of its leading cosmonauts is Andrew Parrott, who, with his ensemble Taverner Players in full strength, has here returned to earth, so to speak, to build a perfect starting-ramp for others who might be interested in joining him in the vast reaches of 17th and 18th century harmony. Together with Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” (which Parrott has recorded twice, both for EMI and for the Japanese label Denon), the music recorded here (in 1987 at London’s Abbey Road studios) is possibly the most accessible and definitively the most popular of the baroque period and is guaranteed to take anyone listening to it into orbit and probably also on a journey that will introduce him to many other baroque composers who, for reasons of space and time, cannot be included on this disc. Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba” from the oratorio “Solomon” and his “Harp Concerto” (here wonderfully played by soloist Andrew Lawrence-King) provide an irresistible entrée; these are followed by some short extracts from music by Henry Purcell, Britain’s short-lived Restoration genius. In similar vein, there is Pachelbel’s “Canon and Gigue” in a delightfully clear interpretation; then, last but not least, excerpts from some of Bach’s cantatas, including the ever-present “Sinfonia” from Part 2 of his Christmas Oratorio and also the chorale “Jesus bleibet meine Freude”, better known in English as “Jesu, joy of man’s desiring”. The brilliant quality both of the original-instrument playing and the audio sound are surely just what is needed to win hearts and minds for this glorious musical epoque. If you are new to the baroque, buy it and enjoy!