The performing group Les Arts Florissants was founded in 1979 by William Christie, an American musician, trained at Harvard and Yale, who had been living in France for several years. He took the name of the group from a short opera written for Louis XIV by the French Baroque composer Marc-Antoine Charpentier. The group’s major breakthrough came in 1987 with performances of Lully’s Atys at the Opéra Comique in Paris, and since then Les Arts Florissants has played a major role in the resurgence of interest 17th and 18th century repertoire, in France and around the world. The group has given staged and concert performances of operas, choral music and other vocal works by composers such as Rameau, Couperin, Montéclair, Charpentier, Mondonville,Read more Desmarest, Monteverdi, Landi, Rossi, Purcell, Handel, Gluck, Haydn, and Mozart. William Christie had the following to say about Virgin Classics’ 30th-anniversary release: “This CD to mark the 30th anniversary of Les Arts Florissants brings together highlights from the recordings we have made for Virgin Classics since 2003. “From Charpentier’s Te Deum to Haydn’s Creation by way of Purcell’s Divine Hymns, Rossi’s Peccator pentito and Handel’s Serse, this selection illustrates the variety and richness of the repertoire I have approached with my ensemble over the last 30 years; it represents two centuries of music – French, of course, but also Italian, English and German. Some of the composers represented here were almost forgotten 20 or 30 years ago, but now they are fully recognised, appreciated and celebrated. That Les Arts Florissants has contributed to their rediscovery is a matter of great satisfaction for me. “Looking again at the list of all the singers who have participated in these recordings, I am happy to see that the names of celebrated artists stand alongside those of young soloists whom we have helped to gain a reputation on the international music scene, notably through Le Jardin des Voix, our academy for emerging singers. “Les Arts Florissants has reached a state of maturity while remaining young in spirit. The group’s enthusiasm and curiosity remain intact – these are essential stimuli for the interpretation of music. Instrumentalists and singers who have been with us for some time, perhaps more than 15 years, remain delightfully fresh in their attitude, passionate about our repertoire and always happy to work together. “The maturity of the ensemble is evident in a greater mastery in performance … Musical passages that were a little tricky 25 years ago – say certain violin phrases in Rameau or certain vocal lines in a Charpentier motet -- now appear simpler, which allows us to take things further. Our work is never at an end, but we are well practised in what we do. These days our interpretations benefit both from a consistently fresh approach and from true maturity in their execution.” Read less
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