Following the Brandenburg Concertos, Sigiswald Kuijken now presents a new recording of the four Orchestral Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach with his ensemble La Petite Bande. Orchestral suites in the French style, in which the actual overture is always followed by a series of dances or characteristic movements, were quite well known during Bach's time at courts throughout Europe. The splendour of the Versailles court of Louis XIV and XV was imitated everywhere, and music was of great importance in this respect. Sigiswald Kuijken has chosen a rather small ensemble for the present recording; the particular advantage of this approach is in the transparency of the voice-leading. Alongside the harpsichord, the bass group consists of one or two so-called 8-foot violones: a bass instrument significantly larger than the baroque cello and which produces a considerably more resonant sound due to its larger body and thicker strings. What is especially remarkable about this recording, however, is the exclusive use of natural trumpets without auxiliary holes - customary today but in fact historically incorrect.
Perf (5/5) ***** Rec (5/5) ***** 'Each suite is full of graceful charm, often accentuated by gently swung rhythms… all imbued with delicacy and with happily judged tempos … In the hands of skilful players such as these, they sound convincing and that equally applies to all the musicians of La Petite Bande.' --Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine January 2014
CRITIC S CHOICE 'If we fear for generic designer performances in Bach s orchestral perennials, Sigiswald Kujiken s exquisitely nuanced, primed but challenging readings will do the trick. It s an affecting vision of intimate exchange, Arcadian pastorale and grand gesture allowing for highly original coloration amid a strong quest for antique resonance. A world unto itself' --Jonathan Freeman-Atwood Gramophone, December 2014