La Petite Bande / Sigiswald Kuijken


Format: SACD hybrid
Label: Challenge Classics
UPC: 0608917239423
Catnr: CC 72394
Release date: 21 November 2014
2 SACD hybrid
Challenge Classics
Catalogue number
CC 72394
Release date
21 November 2014

"''Kuijken has brought together four singers whose voices blend pretty well.''"

Musica Dei Donum, 20-12-2016

About the album

The Christmas Oratorio is a series of 6 separate cantatas, collectively relating the story from Christmas through to Twelfth Night. Bach wrote the work in Leipzig in 1734 and 1735 for Christmas Day (I), Boxing day (II), the third day of Christmas (III), New Year (IV), the Sunday after New Year (V) and Twelfth Night (VI). As with the Passions, the texts here are drawn from three sources: (1) the evangelical texts (primarily Luke and Matthew) intoned by the Evangelist (tenor) as recitatives, (2) chorales from the Lutheran tradition and (3) free texts for arias and some choral passages, written by the poet Picander.

This performance is perhaps as close as presently possible to what we imagine Bach might have had in mind as he composed the work in Leipzig. First of all, we have the 'one to a part' aspect: historical research among the various sources clearly shows that Bach did not ask for a choir to perform his cantatas, but simply a vocal quartet. This 'single line singing' certainly adds to the individual expression of the text and the music's transparency. Bach's religious music always uses the text as its starting point and a great deal of attention is therefore paid to correct enunciation. The vocal principle of 'one to a part' also has a major influence on the instrumental forces. Bach employed a small-scale string ensemble (two first violins, two second violins, one viola, one or two bass violins for the bass line and sometimes a violoncello da spalla, or shoulder cello, see below), as well as single wind instruments where appropriate, all supported by an organ, which formed the continuo in conjunction with the bass violin. And since the instrumental music is also completely permeated by the rhetoric that stems from the text, the transparency of this small ensemble intertwines seamlessly with the vocal lines, giving a refined polyphony that reached its zenith in Bach's music.

Continuing to focus attention on the 'historical truth' of performance (in other words, trying to get as close as possible to the circumstances in which the work was originally conceived and performed) is not a museum activity. Rather, it is an ongoing process of questioning music in performance, erasing later habits and traditions that have survived, so that the music can once again dazzle us with its freshness and directness.

Kerstmuziek die klinkt zoals Bach het bedoeld moet hebben
Waarschijnlijk kwam een uitvoering van het Weihnachtsoratorium nog nooit zo dicht bij wat Johann Sebastian Bach in gedachten moet hebben gehad, toen hij het kerstoratorium schreef. Een mooie prestatie van dirigent Sigiswald Kuijken en zijn barokorkest La Petite Bande. "This delicately expressive and intimate performance captures the tender essence of the Christmas story." BBC Music Magazine, maart 2015.

Bach componeerde het oratorium in 1734 en '35 in Leipzig. Het bestaat uit 6 aparte cantates die samen het kerstverhaal vertellen. Ze schetsen 1e Kerstdag, 2e Kerstdag, 3e Kerstdag, Nieuwjaar, de zondag na Nieuwjaar en Driekoningen. Bach had bij het componeren van dit werk geen groot koor voor ogen, maar een kwartet, waardoor de muziek transparant wordt en elke stem tot zijn recht komt. Hier ook geen voltallig orkest, maar een klein strijkersensemble - dat zich naadloos voegt bij de stemmen - begeleid door enkele blaasinstrumenten en een orgel. Kuijken en zijn ensemble houden vast aan de oorspronkelijke bedoeling van Bachs kerstoratorium en laten zich niet beïnvloeden door moderne gewoonten. Ze zorgen daarmee voor directe en verfrissende muziek.

La Petite Bande is één van de meest vooraanstaande barokorkesten. Het werd in 1972 opgericht door de Belgische violist en dirigent Sigiswald Kuijken en de Nederlandse klavecinist en dirigent Gustav Leonhardt. Het orkest streeft ernaar oude muziek zo getrouw mogelijk te laten herleven. Dat doet het gezelschap door authentieke instrumenten te gebruiken en de oude speelwijze te hanteren. La Petite Bande was oorspronkelijk een tijdelijk gezelschap, dat zich hoofdzakelijk richtte op Franse muziek. Vanwege hun succes geeft het orkest tegenwoordig wereldwijd concerten en bestaat het repertoire ook uit muziek van Italiaanse componisten en componisten als Bach, Händel, Gluck, Haydn en Mozart.

La Petite Bande ist eines der führenden Barockensembles unserer Zeit, und mit dieser Aufnahme kommt Dirigent Sigiswald Kuijken vielleicht so nahe wie nie jemand zuvor an das, was Bach sich möglicherweise bei der Komposition seines Weihnachtsoratoriums vorgestellt hat: Anstelle eines mächtigen Chores hört man hier ein Vokalquartett, wodurch die Musik viel transparenter wird und der Ausdruck jeder Stimme individuell zum Tragen kommt. Auch unterstützt sie kein Orchester, sondern lediglich ein kleines Streichensemble, dessen Melodielinien sich nahtlos mit den Stimmen verbinden und ein Vorzeigebeispiel für eine Polyphonie darstellen, die ihren Zenith in Bachs Musik erreichte.

Der „historischen Wahrheit" der Interpretation weiterhin Aufmerksamkeit zu schenken und zu versuchen, den Umständen, in denen das Werk ursprünglich konzipiert und aufgeführt wurde, so nahe wie möglich zu koemmen, ist mitnichten etwas fürs Museum. Es ist vielmehr ein kontinuierlicher Prozess, musikalische Interpretation zu hinterfragen und sie von späteren Einflüssen zu befreien, sodass die Musik uns einmal mehr mit ihrer Direktheit und ihrer Aktualität begeistern kann.

L’Oratorio di Natale corrisponde una serie di 6 cantate indipendenti, che insieme raccontano la storia dal Natale all’Epifania. Bach scrisse l’opera a Lipsia nel 1734-1735 per il giorno di Natale (I), Santo Stefano (II), terzo giorno di Natale (III), Capodanno (IV), la Domenica dopo Capodanno (V) e l’Epifania (VI). Come nelle Passioni, anche qui i testi sono cavati da tre fonti: (1) i testi evangelici (soprattutto Luca e Matteo) intonati dall’Evangelista (tenore) come recitativi, (2) i corali della tradizione luterana e (3) testi poetici per arie e alcuni passi corali, scritti dal librettista Picander.

Questa esecuzione è attualmente la più fedele possibile a quel che immaginiamo Bach potesse avere in mente quando compose quest’opera a Lipsia. Innanzitutto abbiamo l’aspetto ‘one to a part’: la ricerca musicologica sulle diverse fonti mostra chiaramente che, per eseguire le sue cantate, Bach non richiedeva un coro ma semplicemente un quartetto vocale. Questo ‘cantare a voce sola’ accresce certamente l’espressione individuale del testo e la trasparenza della musica. La musica sacra di Bach utilizza sempre il testo come punto di partenza, e grande attenzione deve essere quindi dedicata alla dizione corretta. Il principio vocale del ‘one to a part’ ha anche una forte influenza sull’organico strumentale. Bach utilizzava un nucleo d’archi di piccole dimensioni (due primi violini, due secondi violini, una viola, uno o due violoni per la linea di basso e talvolta un violoncello da spalla), ed eventualmente singoli strumenti a fiato, tutti sostenuti da un organo, che formava il continuo unitamente al violone. E siccome anche le parti strumentali sono completamente permeate dalla retorica che scaturisce dal testo, la trasparenza di questo piccolo ensemble si intreccia perfettamente con le linee vocali, esaltando quella raffinata polifonia che raggiunse il suo apice nella musica di Bach. Continuare a focalizzare l’attenzione sulla ‘verità storica’ dell’esecuzione non è un’attività museale. Piuttosto è un continuo processo di discussione sull’esecuzione della musica, per cancellare abitudini e tradizioni più tarde che sono sopravvissute, in modo che la musica possa nuovamente emozionarci con la sua freschezza e immediatezza.


La Petite Bande
La Petite Bande (Belgium) was founded in 1972 by Sigiswald Kuijken at the request of the record company Harmonia Mundi (Germany) 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.The 17-part CD series "Cantatas of J.S. Bach" (ACCENT) will be finished by the end of 2012. Sigiswald Kuijken applies the latest findings in Bach research: no choir, but rather a vocal quartet together with a minimal instrumental scoring. In this way, the fine musical texture of these cantatas can be much better (and more naturally) revealed.

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 Accent, Challenge, Deutsche Harmonia Mundi, Denon, Seon/Virgin and Hyperion.

La Petite Bande has performed in a multitude of international festivals and concert series, in Europe, Japan, Australia, South America and China.
Since 1997, La Petite Bande has been in residence in the City of Leuven.

Sigiswald Kuijken
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, Challenge, ...).

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.

Since 1998 Sigiswald Kuijken occasionally brings together two generations Kuijken (his daughters Veronica and Sara and his brother Wieland) to perform string quartets of later periods (Debussy, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert) often combined with Lieder by Marie Kuijken, soprano and also daughter of Sigiswald, and Veronica Kuijken, piano. Recordings of the two generations have been made for Arcana and Challenge Records.

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, ...

From 1971 to 1996, Sigiswald Kuijken taught Baroque violin at the Koninklijk Conservatorium in The Hague and from 1993 to 2009 at the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. In addition, he has for many years been in demand as a guest teacher at a number of institutions (including the Royal College of Music in London, Salamanca University, the Accademia Chigiana in Siena, the Conservatoire of Geneva, the Musikhochschule of Leipzig).

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.

He was granted in February 2009 the prestigious "Life Achievement Award of the Flemish Government".



''Kuijken has brought together four singers whose voices blend pretty well.''
Musica Dei Donum, 20-12-2016

A major factor is the performance of the part of the Evangelist. All said and done, if I had to choose one of these recordings, this aspect probably would make me to go for Kuijken.
musica-dei-donum, 05-12-2016

This delicately expressive and intimate performance captures the tender essence of the Christmas story. Performance 5 out of 5 stars Recording 5 out of 5 stars
BBC music Magazine, 30-3-2015

['']...It's a recording to cherish and one that captures the spirit of the work as completely as any i know...['']
International Record Review, 01-3-2015

["].. For all the many fine attributes in this new reading, this is enough of a drawback to place it quite a distance below the front-runners of Harnoncourt, Fasolis, Werner and, more recently, Stephen Layton."
Gramophone, 01-3-2015

5 tuning forks (diapasons)! "The threshold of two hundred (!) recordings of the Christmas Oratorio has been crossed according to the website, with extensive discographies. But this is the first time a leader reads this with the light of the choir of soloists, with a reduced number, of which the musicologist Joshua Rifkin demonstrated the relevance a quarter of a century ago and which was already applied and recorded on cd’s of both Passions and the Mass in B by Sigiswald Kuijken."
Diapason, 23-2-2015

['']...With Kuijken leading and directing the ensemble from the wing of the instruments, there are only occasional moments when I feel the lack of an independent conductor, but the players where to make the minute adjustments for the singers that give this performance its caressing chamber-music quality without sacrificing its dance-like energy...['']
Early Music Review , 01-2-2015

A moving and exhilarating interpretation which can truly be called the reference recording of Bach's Weihnachtsoratorium. Congratulations!
Toccata, 19-1-2015

A sensitive, very nuanced, flowing and very transparent interpretation that is beautifully performed by the Ensemble which is destinated to it.
Der Kurier, 30-12-2014

Music with a superb orchestration
WDR3 TonArt, 22-12-2014

"A sympathetic, peaceful interpretation."
Trouw, 19-12-2014

"The Orchestra plays in great balance and the tempi are part of this transparent and smooth implementation."
Klassiek Centraal, 15-12-2014

the most exciting christmas-celebration within livin memory
Süddeutsche Zeitung, 06-12-2014

["] .. All in all not shown where we really been waiting for a time when a real overkill consists of designs and convince many of which interpretation considerably more aware than this , which incidentally does very nicely recorded in the on warm -sounding ambience of the Predikherenkerk Leuven. no, no it is on . it is purely approach Kuijken and that's his prerogative. About taste is not so always strive, because they defended at all costs small and solo vocal line is more a matter of it than anything else. "
Opusklassiek, 01-12-2014

It is a brilliant recording which sets new standards. Next to Kuijken's Weihnachtsoratorium, where you can listen to the musical beauty so slender, transparent and direct, even the best recordings with several vocals leave a trace of plumpness. Kuijken's masterstroke., 25-11-2014

Play album
Disc #1
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Jauchzet, frohlocket!
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Es begab sich aber zu der Zeit
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Nun wird mein liebster Bräutigam
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Bereite dich, Zion, mit zärtlichen Trieben
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Wie soll ich dich empfangen
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Und sie gebar ihren ersten Sohn
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Er ist auf Erden kommen arm,
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Großer Herr, o starker König
Jauchzet, frohlocket! Auf, preiset die Tage: Ach mein herzliebes Jesulein
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Sinfonia
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend auf dem Felde
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Brich an, o schönes Morgenlicht
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Und der Engel sprach zu ihnen
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Was Gott dem Abraham verheißen
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Frohe Hirten, eilt, ach eilet
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Und das habt zum Zeichen
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Schaut hin, dort liegt im finstern Stall
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: So geht denn hin, ihr Hirten, geht
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Schlafe, mein Liebster, genieße der Ruh
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Und alsobald war da bei dem Engel die Menge der himmlischen Heerscharen
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Ehre sei Gott in der Höhe
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: So recht, ihr Engel, jauchzt und singet
Und es waren Hirten in derselben Gegend: Wir singen dir in deinem Heer
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Und da die Engel von ihnen gen Himmel fuhren
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Lasset uns nun gehen gen Bethlehem
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Er hat sein Volk getröst’
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Sein groß Lieb zu zeigen an
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Herr, dein Mitleid, dein Erbarmen
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Und sie kamen eilend und funden beide
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Schließe, mein Herze, dies selige Wunder
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Was es an dieser holden Zeit
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Ich will dich mit Fleiß bewahren
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Und die Hirten kehrten wieder um
Herrscher des Himmels, erhöre das Lallen: Seid froh dieweil

Disc #2
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Fallt mit Danken, fallt mit Loben
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Und da acht Tage um waren
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Immanuel, o süßes Wort!
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Flößt, mein Heiland, flößt dein Namen
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Wohlan, dein Name soll allein
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Ich will nur dir zu Ehren leben
Fallt mit Danken, fallt met Loben: Jesus richte mein Beginnen
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Da Jesus geboren war zu Bethlehem im jüdischen Lande
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Wo ist der neugeborne König der Jüden?
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Dein Glanz all Finsternis verzehrt
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Erleucht auch meine finstre Sinnen
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Da das der König Herodes hörte
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Warum wollt ihr erschrecken?
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Und ließ versammlen alle Hohepriester
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Ach, wenn wird die Zeit erscheinen?
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Mein Liebster herrschet schon.
Ehre sei dir, Gott, gesungen: Zwar ist solche Herzensstube
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Da berief Herodes die Weisen heimlich und erlernet mit Fleiß von ihnen
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Du Falscher, suche nur den Herrn zu fällen
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Nur ein Wink von seinen Händen
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Als sie nun den König gehöret hatten, zogen sie hin
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Ich steh an deiner Krippen hier
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Und Gott befahl ihnen im Traum
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: So geht! Genug, mein Schatz geht nicht von hier
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Nun mögt ihr stolzen Feinde schrecken
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Was will der Höllen Schrecken nun
Herr, wenn die stolzen Feinde schnauben: Nun seid ihr wohl gerochen
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Weihnachtsoratorium -J.S.Bach -La Petite Bande

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