William Christie threw in the towel when he was thinking about a career as a solo pianist. Lucky for Les Arts Florissants and the future of early music.
"I made a big decision in my life that I simply wasn't talented enough as a pianist," he explains of his choice to focus on ensemble work. Be that as it may, his prodigious talent as a leader is indisputable.
In 1971, Christie moved to Paris, where he soon established Les Arts Florissants, the hugely successful period-instrument ensemble credited with helping to revive a worldwide appreciation for early music, especially vocal masterpieces of the French Baroque.
Christie has a genius for finding the forgotten gems of 17th and 18th centuries, spectacular works with luscious coloratura, ecstatic trills, and lilting recitatives. When Christie and his ensemble perform works like Atys and Les Bor_ades‹hardly standard rep‹they draw capacity crowds, both in the United States and Europe. On April 3, Carnegie Hall audiences will have a rare chance to hear these extraordinary players in the music they "know best," as Christie puts it‹works from French opera founder Jean-Baptiste Lully and sacred music master Marc-Antoine Charpentier, whose best-known opera Les Arts Florissants gave the group its name.
Christie sees the ensemble's return to New York as another opportunity to remind the musical world of its early-music roots. "I've been away for a long time" says the Buffalo, New York, native of the upcoming Carnegie Hall appearance this April‹"There's nothing quite like coming home, and that has me excited."
And you can bet there will be a host of people welcoming him back.