With a Flourish

If since the eighties the masters of the French baroque—Lully, Rameau, Charpentier—are no longer merely names in a book, chief credit belongs to the French-based American musicologist William Christie, who more than a decade ago, in a stroke of inspiration, named his budding vocal and instrumental ensemble after a Charpentier quasi-opera they were then recording. The artists of Les Arts Florissants have flourished indeed. Their discoveries of such rare fare as Lully’s Atys or Charpentier’s Médée or Rameau’s Les Indes Galantes tingle with mercurial passion, doing justice to both the period’s rhetorical extravagance and the lively temper that flashes beneath the surface. They work the same magic on Purcell, whose music for The Fairy Queen is on their bill for concerts at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall (May 7 and 10; 212875-5050); the State University of New York at Purchase (May 9; 914-251-6200); Boston’s Jordan Hall (May 12; 617-5362412); and Chicago’s Civic Theatre (May 13; 312-663-1628). All titles mentioned, and literally dozens more, are available on the Harmonia Mundi label.