CD (9 items)
✓ in stock
02 September 2022
It was September 1972, just after the final notes of Lully's opera Bourgeois Gentilhomme, to a text by Molière, had been recorded by a fairly random assembly of musicians who had got together for the first time to do this – mostly young and enthusiastic advocates of authentic Baroque performance, directed by Gustav Leonhardt, harpsichord maestro and discerning driving force behind this recording. Dr. Alfred Krings, of the German Harmonia Mundi recording label, then asked the inevitable question of what name this previously non-existent ensemble should be given on the record sleeve...
With a delicate, slightly enigmatic smile on his face, Gustav Leonhardt conjured up his suggestion of "LA PETITE BANDE". Leonhardt was a man of somewhat aristocratic demeanour and I instantly felt I recognised a subtle but unmistakeable reference to the slightly "gang-like" aspect of our hitherto unblooded musical get-together, and I was happy about this covert allusion as I felt really at home in this brand new grouping. But a few seconds later (presumably because I was gazing at him in puzzled confusion), he explained to me what his suggestion was all about: La Petite Bande, he said, was the name used sometimes at the court of Louis XIV to describe a smaller and most likely better qualified group of musicians, called upon for auspicious occasions only, in other words a sort of musical elite. I swallowed my views on this apparent contradistinction and immediately said I agreed entirely with the suggestion. Nothing "gang-like" about this group; rather a prestigious, elite Bande de musiciens. Personally, I felt that we were reaching a bit too high, but most of all I was relieved and happy that this problem (of giving the infant a name) had been dealt with.
When I look back now, I'm astonished and grateful that this unusual birth of our "little band" – obviously more the result of happy circumstance than premeditated decision – has continued to define the character and ambience of our collaboration over the entire 50 years of our existence as an 'action group'.
When you're a musician, or playing in a group of musicians, you need to play every concert as if it were the very first, but at the same time perhaps the very last. This keeps the work mint-fresh and banishes any suffocating routine. The real, deep reason for playing any music at all (even if you play on your own) is your connection to the situation you're transcending, which gives you the most personal, inner satisfaction. If this feeling ever starts to evaporate, where's the fun?
Yes, this is the breath that keeps us musicians alive, and we've always chosen musicians who can share this same breath with us. The mentality – that common philosophy about the work – is absolutely the most important aspect; it very largely determines the quality that can then be communicated to our audience. In the most literal sense, a musician must always remain an amateur – a "dilettante" – as only then will the listener share in the enjoyment.
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 18-part CD series 'Cantatas of J.S. Bach' (ACCENT) is complete since February 2014. 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.
From 1997 to 2018, La Petite Bande was resident in the city of Leuven.
Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from abroad, particularly from Italy and France. Bach's compositions include the Brandenburg Concertos, the Goldberg Variations, the Mass in B minor, two Passions, and hundreds of cantatas. His music is revered for its technical command, artistic beauty, and intellectual depth.
Bach's abilities as an organist were highly respected during his lifetime, although he was not widely recognised as a great composer until a revival of interest in and performances of his music in the first half of the 19th century. He is now generally regarded as one of the greatest composers of all time.