While the pieces on The Best of Baroque Music have been trotted out countless times before, the Cologne Chamber Orchestra, led by Helmut Müller-Brühl, turns in refreshing performances that make this disc highly enjoyable. Its even tone and steady playing put this collection above most of the various artists compilations of the major labels, which, in comparison, seem thrown together without much thought toward consistency. Notable, too, is the avoidance of cliché. Obligatory pieces, such as Pachelbel's Canon (regrettably, without the Gigue) and Handel's Largo from Serse, are played fairly authentically and at a reasonable tempo, not like in the slushy romanticized arrangements that are better known. Similarly, the Air from Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3 is not sentimentalized beyond recognition. All the pieces benefit from the ensemble's lean sound, which allows counterpoint to be heard in detail. Generous servings of the orchestral music of Bach, Handel, and Telemann give a good idea of their extremely varied output, much better than one or two token samplings ever could. And even the morose Adagio by Remo Giazotto -- long passed off as a work by Albinoni -- gets revamped in fine Baroque style with a faster tempo and a staccato continuo that make it sound interesting, for once.