La Petite Bande is a Belgium-based ensemble specialising in music of the Baroque and Classical era played on period instruments. They are particularly known for their recordings of works by Corelli, Rameau, Handel, Bach, Haydn, and Mozart.
The ensemble was brought together in 1972 by Sigiswald Kuijken, originally for the one-off purpose of recording Lully's comédie-ballet, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme , conducted by Gustav Leonhardt for the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label. The ensemble was given its name from Lully's Petite Bande des Violons du Roi , an orchestra of 21 string players at the court of Louis XIV.The nucleus of the original group was the Leonhardt Consort along with Sigiswald Kuijken and his brothers Wieland and Barthold. Following the recording, the group continued to give concerts throughout Europe and became a permanent ensemble based in Leuven with Kuijken as director. Their initial repertoire concentrated on French Baroque music, but soon branched out into Italian and German composers, including Corelli, Handel and Bach. They also branched out from the Baroque to the Classical period with performances and recordings of works by Haydn and Mozart. The ensemble's 1982 recording of Haydn's The Creation was the first time the work had been recorded using period instruments. Their UK debut was at the 1982 BBC Proms, with a concert of pieces by Bach, Handel, and Rameau. The critic Barry Millington described the performance in The Musical Times :
The group has an endearing attitude of indifference to concert platform ritual: each player is dressed for a different occasion. But there is nothing casual about their playing: this is some of the best-disciplined Baroque playing to be heard today.
La Petite Bande's recordings of operatic rarities during their first ten years include Rameau's Zoroastre , Zaïs , and Pigmalion as well as Campra's L'Europe galante and Grétry's Le jugement de Midas . From 2006 to 2012, the ensemble has largely concentrated on Bach, especially his cantatas with the goal of recording a complete liturgical year,but also his St John Passion , St Matthew Passion and Mass in B minor. Singers in these projects, each part sung by one singer, have included sopranos Gerlinde Sämann, Barbara Schlick, Elisabeth Scholl and Siri Thornhill, altos René Jacobs and Petra Noskaiová, tenors Christoph Genz, Christoph Prégardien and Marcus Ullmann, and basses Jan van der Crabben, Max van Egmond and Harry van der Kamp.
On 2 February 2009, Sigiswald Kuijken was awarded the Prize for Cultural Merit by the Belgian government.The following day, the advisory committee of the Ministry of Culture recommended that La Petite Bande's 600,000 euro annual subsidy be removed. Kuijken's students started an internet petition to save the subsidy which received 21,000 signatures. The Minister of Culture at the time, Bert Anciaux, ignored the advice of the committee and restored the subsidy until 2012 (reduced to 590,000 euro). The ensemble has since started a charitable foundation, Support La Petite Bande, to make up the shortfall. Some funding was subsequently granted for 2013 to 2016.
In 2011, Kuijken decided to leave the future direction of the ensemble to younger musicians and chose the organist Benjamin Alard to direct a new Handel project which began in April 2013.
Trevor David Pinnock is a British harpsichordist and conductor.
René Jacobs is a Belgian musician. He came to fame as a countertenor, but later in his career he became known as a conductor of baroque and classical opera.
Collegium Vocale Gent is a Belgian musical ensemble of vocalists and supporting instrumentalists, founded by Philippe Herreweghe. The group is dedicated to historically informed performance.
Jan van der Crabben is a Belgian baritone singer.
Sandrine Piau is a French soprano. She is particularly renowned in Baroque music although also excels in Romantic and modernist art songs. She has the versatility to perform works from Vivaldi, Rameau, Handel to Schumann, Debussy, and Poulenc. She has made numerous studio recordings, primarily with Harmonia Mundi, Naïve, and Alpha since 2018.
Sigiswald Kuijken is a Belgian violinist, violist, and conductor known for playing on period and original instruments.
Nancy Maureen Argenta is a Canadian soprano singer, best known for performing music from the pre-classical era. She has won international acclaim, and is considered one of the leading Handel sopranos of her time.
Pierre Hantaï is a French conductor and harpsichordist.
Ross Pople is a New Zealand-born British conductor. He is the principal conductor of the London Festival Orchestra. He has worked with Yehudi Menuhin, Clifford Curzon, David Oistrakh, Kentner, George Malcolm, Sir Adrian Boult, Rudolf Kempe, Benjamin Britten, Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michael Tippett, Georg Solti, Leonard Bernstein, George Benjamin, John Casken, Edwin Roxburgh, Luciano Berio, John Taverner, Malcolm Arnold, Pierre Boulez as well as many other major orchestras, choirs and soloists.
Jin Kim is a South Korean Baroque violinist.
Christoph Genz is a German tenor in opera and concert.
Siri Karoline Thornhill is a Norwegian classical soprano for concert and opera, known for singing music of Johann Sebastian Bach.
Gerlinde Sämann is a German soprano known for her performances in concerts and operas. She is particularly associated with the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. Her concert repertoire also includes lieder, oratorio, early music, and contemporary music.
Petra Noskaiová is a Slovak classical mezzo-soprano, active in the field of Baroque music.
Carolyn Sampson is an English soprano in opera and concert. Specialising in historically informed performance, she has sung in Masaaki Suzuki's recording project of Bach cantatas and has appeared at the English National Opera.
Markus Schäfer is a German lyric tenor, a soloist in opera, oratorio, and Lied. He has performed with major opera houses and with the ensemble La Petite Bande. He has been a professor of voice at the Musikhochschule Hannover.
Ryo Terakado is a Japanese violinist and conductor who specializes in historically informed performance. He also plays the viola, viola d'amore and violoncello da spalla. He has been teaching at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague and the Toho Gakuen School of Music.
Midori Suzuki is a Japanese classical soprano, specializing in Baroque music. She has recorded many cantatas by Johann Sebastian Bach with the Bach Collegium Japan, both as a soloist and as a member of the ensemble.
Greta De Reyghere is a Belgian soprano who specializes in early music and Baroque music in historically informed performance but also performs a variety of other classical music in concert. She is a teacher at the Royal Conservatory of Liège.
Peter Lika is a German bass in opera and concert, focused on both oratorio singing as on historically informed performances.