If you cannot imagine what Bach's five great motets would sound like as chamber music, this disc by La Petite Bande will provide an answer: they sound fabulous. With eight singers, five string players, and four wind players plus continuo, La Petite Bande's performances sound absolutely clear – even in the densest textures, every line is ideally balanced – incredibly colorful – the combinations of voices, strings, winds, and organ seem endlessly subtle – and, best of all, unbelievably expressive. Everyone's a soloist and every line is a melody, thereby making Bach's music seem more personal and intimate than usual. Of course, part of the reason for this is that most recordings of the motets, whether a cappella or accompanied, are arguably too big and heavy. With four or more singers on a part, this kind of weightiness is virtually inevitable – but with two singers to a part, the performances can be as expressive as the music director will allow. And with music director Sigiswald Kuijken also being the first violinist, the performances are supremely expressive.
He was born in 's-Graveland, North Holland and studied organ and harpsichord from 1947 to 1950 with Eduard Müller at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. In 1950, he made his debut as a harpsichordist in Vienna, where he studied musicology. He was professor of harpsichord at the Academy of Music from 1952 to 1955 and at the Amsterdam Conservatory from 1954. He was also a church organist.wiki
…I greet this stunning performance as the way to hear this masterpiece. ~ J.F. Weber, Fanfare
Kuijken was born in Dilbeek, near Brussels. He was a member of the Alarius Ensemble of Brussels between 1964 and 1972 and formed La Petite Bande in 1972. Since 1971 he has taught Baroque violin at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Koninklijk Muziekconservatorium in Brussels. He is noted for using the older technique of resting the violin on the shoulder without a shoulder rest, rather than held under the chin. He is a member of the Kuijken String Quartet, which he formed in 1986. In recent years, he has also performed as conductor of symphonies of the Romantic era…wiki
Founded in 1972 at the suggestion of Deutsche Harmonia Mundi and led since its inception by Dutch violinist turned conductor Sigiswald Kuijken, La Petite Bande is surely among the finest of early music orchestras with a discography ranging from Lully through Mozart. Among the group's most successful projects, however, have been recordings of Bach's sacred works, particularly the 1985 Mass in B minor and this 1987 St. John Passion. Both are superbly performed with excellent solo and choral singing and outstanding orchestral playing, but both are distinctly dissimilar in tone and effect…
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (8 March 1714 – 14 December 1788), also formerly spelled Karl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, was a German Classical period musician and composer, the fifth child and second (surviving) son of Johann Sebastian Bach and Maria Barbara Bach. His second name was given in honor of his godfather Georg Philipp Telemann, a friend of Johann Sebastian Bach. C. P. E. Bach was an influential composer working at a time of transition between his father's baroque style and the classical and romantic styles that followed it. His personal approach, an expressive and often turbulent one known as empfindsamer Stil or 'sensitive style', applied the principles of rhetoric and drama to musical structures. Bach's dynamism stands in deliberate contrast to the more mannered galant style also then in vogue.
Belgian period instrument orchestra La Petite Bande takes its name and constitution from Lully's own orchestra at the court of Louis XIV. It was founded in 1972 by violinist and conductor Sigiswald Kuijken in order to record Lully's Le bourgeois gentilhomme with Gustav Leonhardt for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. Although it had only been put together for a few recordings, it soon established a reputation as a leader in the performance of French Baroque music. La Petite Bande began giving regular concerts and appearing at festivals throughout the world. The orchestra's repertoire expanded to include music by Bach, Handel, Gluck, Haydn, and Mozart.
…With a bright tone, buoyant tempos, piquant intonation, effortless ensemble, and relaxed virtuosity, the 12 musicians of La Petite Bande play together with exactly the kind of elegant brilliance and elevated intelligence the music requires. Under Kuijken's hands, these works, composed by the teenage Mozart, sound fresh, witty, tender, and altogether endearing. As delightful an addition to any Mozart shelf as it would be a welcome relief from the spiritual rigors of Bach's cantatas, this disc will please just about every classical enthusiast, especially in Accent's clear, deep 2006 digital sound.