"Conductor Sigiswald Kuijken: "The only side that counts is the inside!""NRC Handelsblad, 03-4-2019
La Petite Bande (Belgium) was founded in 1972 by Sigiswald Kuijken at the request of the record company Deutsche Harmonia Mundi in order to record Lully's "Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme", under the direction of Gustav Leonhardt.
The orchestra takes its name and constitution from Lully's own orchestra at the court of Louis XIV. All its members are internationally renowned specialists in the early music field.
Although originally La Petite Bande was not meant to become a permanent orchestra, the success of the recordings was such that they began to give concerts regularly. Having initially concentrated mainly on French music, the orchestra's repertoire has expanded over the years to include music by the Italian masters and that of Bach, Handel, Gluck, Haydn, Mozart and others.
La Petite Bande has recorded instrumental as well as vocal music, including operas and oratorios from the Baroque and Classical periods. La Petite Bande currently makes recordings for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Denon , Accent and Hyperion.
La Petite Bande has performed in a multitude of international festivals and concert series, in Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and China.
Sigiswald Kuijken was born in 1944 close to Brussels. He studied violin at the conservatories of Bruges and Brussels, completing his studies at the latter institution with Maurice Raskin in 1964. He came into contact with early music at a very young age, together with his brother Wieland. Studying on his own, he gained a thorough knowledge of specific 17th- and 18th-century performance techniques and conventions of interpretation on violin and viola da gamba. This led to the introduction, in 1969, of a more authentic way of playing the violin, whereby the instrument was no longer held under the chin, but lay freely on the shoulder; this was to have a crucial influence on the approach to the violin repertoire and was consequently adopted by many players starting in the early 1970s.
From 1964 to 1972, Sigiswald Kuijken was a member of the Brussels-based Alarius Ensemble (with Wieland Kuijken, Robert Kohnen and Janine Rubinlicht), which performed throughout Europe and in the United States. He subsequently undertook individual chamber music projects with a number of Baroque music specialists, chief among which were his brothers Wieland and Barthold and Robert Kohnen, as well as Gustav Leonhardt, Frans Bruggen, Anner Bylsma and René Jacobs.
In 1972, with the encouragement of Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and Gustav Leonhardt, he founded the Baroque orchestra La Petite Bande, which since then has given innumerable concerts throughout Europe, Australia, South America, China and Japan, and has made many recordings for a number of labels (including Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Seon, Virgin, Accent, Denon, Hyperion, ...)
In 1986 he founded the Kuijken String Quartet (with François Fernandez, Marleen Thiers and Wieland Kuijken), which specialises in the quartets and quintets (with Ryo Terakado as first violist) of the Classical period. Recordings of quartets and quintets by Mozart and Haydn have appeared on Denon.
In 2004 Sigiswald Kuijken reintroduced in practical performance the Violoncello da spalla (shoulder cello, very probably the instrument Bach had in mind when writing his six cello solos): concerts and recordings of Bach , Vivaldi, ...
Since 1998, Sigiswald Kuijken occasionally conducts “modern” symphonic orchestras in romantic programs (Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn).
On 2 February 2007, Sigiswald Kuijken received an honorary doctorate of the K.U. Leuven.
Conductor Sigiswald Kuijken: "The only side that counts is the inside!"
NRC Handelsblad, 03-4-2019
An interview with Sigiswald Kuijken about his past recordings. To begin with the St. Matthew Passion..
BBC Music Magazine, 01-2-2014
["].. Recording balance is ocasionally suspect: the gloriously climactic ripieno chorale in the opening movement is almost inaudible - one distant soprano above double choir and orchestra."
BBC Music Magazine, 01-7-2010
With Kuijken no major drama, but modesty, intimacy and transparency. In his interpretation we hear his awe for the text.
Reformatorisch Dagblad, 24-6-2010
Mendelssohn was impressed by Bach's masterpiece and decided for a reenactment, but then adapted to the musical fashion of his time: with a romantic symphony orchestra and a large choir. It took almost two centuries, before the Matthew Passion slowly was stripped to the small cast of Kuijken and La Petite Bande.
AVROTROS website, 23-6-2010
One of the pioneers of Bach solo occupation is Sigiswald Kuijken. Kuijken opts radically for solo occupation. The soloists that interpret arias, also sing the choral parts what leads to one voice per vocal group in the two choirs that Bach provided in the Matthew Passion.
Sigiswald Kuijken is familiar with the St. Matthew Passion. It is a homogeneous group of experienced soloists.The esembles sounds more transparent and more virtuosic.
Passion of the passions, La Petite Bande. It was inspiringly performed for a wide circle of music lovers.-
De Bond, 15-4-2010
The discussion about the ensemble size will always remain, but it is clear that Kuijken is very convincing with this Matthäus and his barefooted version of it.
Klassieke Zaken, 14-4-2010
From the first notes, it becomes clear that a strong sense of musical style is coupled with a weathered, sober interpretation of Bach's masterpiece, and that impression stays with you throughout the three SACDs
Nederlands Dagblad, 08-4-2010
Recently released by Challenge Classics SuperAudio on three CDs. A beautiful, balanced, and transparent performance.
Sigiwald Kuijken has been experimenting for ten years with this small ensemble. He has convinced many listeners of the historical accuracy and the high artistic level of La Petite Bande
CV Koers, 07-4-2010
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Because everyone was present and concentrated from the first to the last note, it has become a unique recording, that could be very succesful.The intensity and atmosphere can be felt in the recording.
Klassieke Zaken, 07-4-2010
The persuasiveness of this approach (created by thorough research), makes the passion accessible and attractive, both for an interested layman, as the religious musician.
Mania Klassiek, 06-4-2010
The advantage is the sleek sound and great text comprehension.
Alte Musik, 31-3-2010
With this new recording Sigiswald Kuijken and La Petite Bande show us that convincingly this approach works. Everything seems to fall beautifuly and naturally into place. The choirs and chorals are gaining expressiveness and harmonic richness.
The on three SACDs divided work sounds bright, very bright. The transparency is so present that every word and even the placement of every musician or soloist is easy to follow and to place. The minimalist setting of La Petite Bande makes the performance of Bach's work controversial. However, the performance feels comfortable and engages the listener with the lyrics.
Bach has such tremendous depth, that as a listener your are immediately affected. That is the spiritual quality of the music.
The album Matthaus Passion is not mystical. She is careful.
How does it sound? Crystal clear and sonorous.
De Gelderlander, 17-3-2010
For those who cannot go to a concert or who simply cannot get enough, this wonderful album of the Baroque orchestra La Petite Bande is their solution.
Who is looking for a beautiful solistic Matthäus has the best deal with Kuijken for now, also looked at from an recording technique point of view.