Reviewed by Steven Whitehead
This is a very attractive little book. The text, including illustrations, runs to just over 100 pages but is followed by a useful 60 page reference section with timeline, list of composers, map, glossary and index. But there is more, much more. By purchasing the book you get the password to a free website that includes 41 musical illustrations from the Naxos catalogue. The author starts by placing Baroque into its historical context from the "invention" of opera in about 1600 through to the death of the era's "musical superhero", Johann Sebastian Bach. Unger-Hamilton is a lucid writer with a light and at times humorous touch. The musical selection is well chosen and features examples from Bach, Handel, Scarlatti, Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Lully, Corelli, Vivaldi, Charpentier and others. A fair proportion of the items are explicitly Christian but by no means all. The recordings are all from the budget Naxos label. It is true that not all would be on anyone's first choice list but all are workmanlike and none are badly flawed. Jeremy Summerly's Oxford Camerata is featured along with a cross section of Eastern European orchestra and soloists. The book on its own is excellent value and the addition of the website makes it a very worthwhile purchase whether you are new to Baroque or already an admirer.
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