Last year the period-instrument movement reached a new peak in popularity when the sound track of a lavishly produced biopic of baroque viola da gambist Marin Marais became a huge hit. The success was surprising but not totally unexpected. For almost two decades the public’s appetite for early music has been whetted by ensembles such as the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra. Founded in 1979 by Ton Koopman and staffed with a multinational cast of period instrumentalists, the orchestra is arguably the best-liked and most-recorded among baroque specialists. Its performances, as a rule, are spirited and convincing–even though its occasional musical forways into the early 19th century have been misguided. As the opening act of the University of Chicago’s valuable International Early Music Series, the group has sensibly chosen to give a quick tour of Europe in the heyday of the baroque style. On the itinerary are Germany (represented by Telemann’s Overture no. 1 and J.S. Bach’s Suite no. 1, France (Rameau’s Les indes galantes Suite), England (Handel’s Concerto Grosso in A-minor), and Austria (Mozart’s Divertimento in D-major). The rivetingly irrepressible Koopman, who is often mistaken for an absent-minded professor, will conduct from the harpsichord. Sunday, 8 PM, Mandel Hall, 1131 E. 57th St; 702-8068.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Jacques Sarrat.