The audience loved it
The concert Friday night, Feb. 6, 2009, featured improvisation also, by utilizing the improvisation techniques that were well established both among the composers of the time - the 18th century and before - and among the performers of the time. The performers were the Philadelphia-based Baroque ensemble called Tempesta di Mare, and unbelievably active group of individual musicians who somehow find time to constitute this incredibly gifted ensemble.
Gwyn Roberts, the recorder player for the group, during a free concert talk poems directly into on the importance of improvisation in music of Handel's day, especially in the London during Handel's lifetime and that of some of his contemporaries from Italy primarily, but also from Germany. Roberts pointed out that there are four ways of improvising and decorating a musical line, ranging mostly from the simplest to the most ornate. Of course, the more decoration that was put to a line, the more complete had to be the musicians knowledge of the standards of improvisation (if one immediately is reminded of American jazz, one would be on the right track - because, even though the rules for improvisation are measurably different for Turkish music and for classic European music of the 17th and 18th centuries, the fact that there are rules and that they are abided by either by accepting them or by ignoring them (the elephant-in-the-room concept that you can't get away either positively or negatively totally from the rules).
I can't say it does stated improvisational techniques in music by George Friedrich Handel, William Babell, Archangelo Corelli and Rudolph Straube. It was a thoroughly enlightening program without being didactic or pedantic. The joy of the evening came from the connectedness of these five players to the performance practice of the 18th century to such an extent that it is part and parcel of their approach to music of this period. I doubt that there are many if any groups that excel this group's personal or ensemble accomplishments.