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Classicsonline Home » Artists » » Kuijken, Sigiswald

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Sigiswald Kuijken (b1944)

Sigiswald Kuijken recalls his childhood as a total immersion in early music; he and his brothers Wieland (bass viol) and Barthold (Baroque flute and recorder) listened to the music of Lassus, Josquin et al., and taught themselves to play the various period instruments at their disposal. Whilst studying in Belgium Sigiswald had tried to avoid playing Baroque repertoire on the modern violin and around 1969–1970 he took up the Baroque violin, using Geminiani’s treatise to reappraise his technique and adopting a ‘chin-off’ hold.

His recordings demonstrate this performance specialism and hearing them reminds us of the truly radical nature of early music performance that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s. Accordingly, what we hear with Kuijken is a now-familiar period instrument approach which some might automatically equate with authenticity, even though that term in this context has long been discredited. The C.P.E. Bach, Corelli and Vivaldi examples all evidence the expected sonority of harpsichord and gut-string instruments played, by and large, with very little vibrato and creating a clean but warm sound without the encrustations of modern style. Kuijken’s is a fresh but quite objective tone, notable for its agility and energy in faster movements. It is also characterised by crispness of attack with plenty of short articulations and a certain precision, lacking only occasionally.



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