These performances, recorded as long ago as 1983, were immediately recognised as being of reference quality on many counts. The recording quality was always thrillingly 'present' and so it remains. Gardiner was only just establishing his credentials as a 'period' specialist at that time but is now internationally recognised as such. He has, meanwhile, considerably broadened his scope.
These performances established the fact that no more was 'period' Baroque performance to be an endurance test for listeners. Here at last there was a group of players fully on top of the demands of playing 'period' instruments absolutely in tune and with good tone. The acerbic, doubtfully pitched, playing of the experimental years was finally banished. Also Gardiner brought in reasonable and believable phrasing instead of the earlier obsession with fixed tempi.
What we have here are all the expected benefits of scale so that every note can be heard and in its proper place. The speeds are lively but never pressed too hard. There is a strong sense of the dance even in the slower movements. The solo flute deservers a special mention and there is also additional tremendous splendour throughout the suites 3 and 4, thanks to the wonderful trumpet playing. These remain my versions of choice although others have joined them in the intervening years.
In conclusion, I would strongly suggest that these performances, well recorded, absolutely deserve serious consideration from anyone wishing to purchase either an 'only' version or another one for a comparative collection.