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Concertos - Released January 1, 2001 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or - Choc du Monde de la Musique - Recommandé par Classica
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Chamber Music - Released January 1, 2002 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - Recommandé par Répertoire
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Classical - Released January 1, 2005 | Alpha

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique - 9 de Classica-Répertoire
Once again, Alpha has released a package that combines aesthetic edification with intellectual education, superlative performances with exquisite production values, sublime art with mundane commerce. The conceit here is Jean-Henri d'Anglebert's virtuosic and characterful harpsichord suites, as well as his arrangements of excerpts from Lully's ballets and operas played by Céline Frisch, coupled with performances of Lully's originals played by Café Zimmerman, and concluded with Frisch playing five of d'Anglebert's fugues for organ. Thus the listener is able to hear not only insightful and exciting performances of d'Anglebert's music, but to hear them in context of brilliant performances of the originals, thereby setting the seal on d'Anglebert's inventiveness. Frisch is a first-rate player with a powerful technique, a complete command of the keyboard, and a wonderfully fresh approach to the repertoire. The chamber orchestra Café Zimmerman attacks Lully's originals with spirit, sensitivity, and fire. And as always, Alpha's sound is warm, close, and real. Anyone who enjoys the music of the French Baroque will enjoy this two-disc set. © TiVo
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Concertos - Released September 25, 2015 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - 4 étoiles Classica
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Concertos - Released October 13, 2011 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or
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Concertos - Released January 6, 2011 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklets Distinctions Diapason d'or de l'année - Diapason d'or
The ensemble Café Zimmermann, lead by violinist Pablo Valetti, is one of the new breed of Baroque groups offering lean, high-energy performances on historical instruments. The name refers to a Leipzig coffeehouse where Bach's Collegium Musicum instrumental ensemble might have performed in the 18th century. Imagined in that setting, the one-instrument-per-part performance here is plausible, although evidence that such performances occurred in Bach's time does not indicate that such performances were desirable. Bach himself requested an orchestra of 24 players from the Leipzig city council, and a piece like the Suite No. 3 in D major, BWV 1068, echoes French ensembles of that size. For those down with the small-group approach, this release offers a very high level of musicianship and some fresh readings from Valetti. Tempos are quick, with the suite's famous Air on a G string taken at an unusually brisk clip, but the textures remain unusually transparent, and the overall feel is lively and clear. The Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, BWV 1063, the most troublesome of the set of six with its unusual double-viola scoring, gets a rich, complex reading. Another attraction comes from the Alpha label's practice of pairing musical works with detailed art-historical essays on a painting of the period; the work by Antwerp artist Peter Jacob Horemans, though only tangentially related to Bach, is full of fascinating details such as a cup of coffee or tea being dumped into a bowl, perhaps to be given to one of the four dogs appearing in the painting. As always, buyers of Alpha's series can give themselves a decent grounding in art history at no additional cost. Notes are in French and English. © TiVo
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Concertos - Released January 1, 2003 | Alpha

Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
The best thing about this release by Café Zimmerman -- better than the stupendous performances, better than the glorious sound, better than the brilliant programming, better than the intelligent liner notes, and better even than the gorgeous reproduction of André Bouys' Servant Polishing the Silver on the cover -- is the fact that it's the second release in a cycle of the complete concertos for diverse instruments by Bach. Led by violinist Pablo Valetti, Café Zimmerman is a lean and lovely period instrument chamber orchestra with impeccable ensemble, amazing virtuosity, incredible sensitivity, and endless nuances of tone and color. Alpha's sound is closer, more detailed, and more immediate than real performers in a real space in real time. Mixing the dancing Third Brandenburg with the demonic Double Violin Concerto and the monumental C major Overture with the lyrical Oboe and Violin Concerto is wonderfully refreshing for listeners who've already heard the works in context of their fellow Brandenburgs or overtures. The liner notes, both on the music and on the cover art, are entertaining and enlightening. And the reproduction of the art itself is fine and clear as any reproduction the size of a CD case possibly could be. This release is as good as recorded music gets in this world, as good, honest, and true as Kind of Blue, Wee Small Hours, or Rubber Soul. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 10, 2013 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
Those following the output of the remarkable French label Alpha should note that this does not contain the art-historical essay included with many of the label's releases, even though it looks for all the world like it should: the cover shows a detail from a painting of Maria Josepha of Austria (it is apparently the younger Maria Josepha, Louis XVI's mother, who is shown) that is included in full on the inside. There is, however, access to an informative essay on Vivaldi and his relationship to the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, the girls' orphanage where the concertos heard on the album were composed. (Historians disagree as to whether the institution served the poor or the illegitimate daughters of the wealthy who had to be closeted away, however.) The program presents one half of Vivaldi's L'estro armonico, Op. 3, a set of concerti grossi for from one to four violins, at times a cello, and orchestra that were probably Vivaldi's best-known pieces until the Four Seasons exploded in popularity in the 1970s. It's difficult to stand out from the crowd here, but the almost leaderless Café Zimmermann (it has a concertmaster, Pablo Valetti) offers a distinctive approach. This historical-instrument group, as international as its name, gets logistical kudos for bringing together a large group of Guadagnini instruments from the middle of the 18th century. The result is an unusually nice string sound, both lush and bright, in both the tutti (four violins, two violas, two cellos) and the solo parts. The soloists are nicely distinguished from each other in both the playing and the engineering, and the numerous antiphonal effects and intricate textures in the multiple-instruments concerts are very clearly sorted out. One misses a certain crack brilliance that marks the great Vivaldi performances, but at the same time it's good to have a historical-instrument group that plays the music straightforwardly, without the heavily dramatic, quasi-operatic effects of the contemporary Italian school. Sample and enjoy. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 13, 2011 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released September 14, 2018 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released January 1, 2002 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or
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Classical - Released November 18, 2016 | Alpha

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Alpha

Distinctions 5 de Diapason
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Concertos - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

Distinctions 4 étoiles du Monde de la Musique
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Concertos - Released January 8, 2009 | Alpha

Distinctions Diapason d'or
This disc offers balanced repertoire, virtuosic performances, life-like sound, and beautiful cover reproduction. As in the previous three recordings of Bach's concertos by Café Zimmermann, the program here balances soloists and tonalities for maximum effectiveness. The disc starts with the moving Violin Concerto in A minor, BWV 1041; follows it with the cheerful Concerto for two harpsichords in C major, BWV 1061; follows that with melancholy in the Concerto for flute, violin and harpsichord in A minor, BWV 1044; and concludes with the joyous Brandenburg Concerto No. 2 for trumpet, recorder, oboe and violin in F major (BWV 1047). And as with the group's previous discs in this series, the performances are everything one could hope for. A 12-piece chamber orchestra playing on period instruments, Café Zimmermann has the strength, agility, and intuitive cohesion of a great jazz band, and its performances here rival the finest ever made for insight, affection, and excitement. Listeners familiar with the label's sound and cover reproductions will be unsurprised at their high quality; anyone unfamiliar with them will likely be astounded by the sound's clarity and immediacy and astonished by the cover's rich colors and vivid details. In short, anyone who enjoys great Bach, great playing, great sound, and great covers will surely enjoy this disc as well as with the previous three in this series. © TiVo
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Chamber Music - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason
In 16 CD Alpha traces the adventure of Café Zimmermann on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the instrumental ensemble. Among the iconic albums featured in this discographic portrait are Celine Frisch's Goldberg Variations, unanimously acclaimed at the time of their release in 2001.

Concertos - Released November 23, 2018 | Alpha

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Classical - Released January 1, 2006 | Alpha

Booklet
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Classical - Released October 1, 2007 | Alpha

This disc coupling two of Bach's secular cantatas has many, many things going for it and only one thing going against it. First, it has fascinating -- and rarely performed or recorded -- repertoire. Angenehmes Wiederau, BWV 30a (Charming Wiederau), is a rewritten version of the sacred cantata Freue dich, erloste Schar, BWV 30 (Rejoice, redeemed souls), while Vereingte Zwietracht der wechselnden Saiten, BWV 207 (United discord of strings), is an earlier version of the secular cantata Auf, schmetternde Tone der muntern Trompeten, BWV 207a (Blare forth, proud trumpets). Second, both works are magnificently scored: Angenehmes Wiederau for bass, alto, soprano and tenor soloists, chorus, pairs of flutes and oboes, three trumpets plus tympani, strings, and basso continuo; Vereingte Zwietracht for tenor, bass, soprano, and alto soloists and a chorus, pairs of flutes and oboes, a trio of trumpets plus tympani, strings, and lute and harpsichord continuo with bassoon, cello, and double bass. Third, both works are superbly sung by soprano Monika Frimmer, tenor Markus Schäfer, bass Stephan MacLeod, and Les Chantres du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles directed by Olivier Schneebeli and superlatively played by Café Zimmermann. Fourth, and best of all, the performers are led by the venerable Gustav Leonhardt, the famous Dutch keyboard player and conductor, who presides over performances that are unbelievably insightful, incredibly joyful, and consummately musical. The only flaw here is alto Robin Blaze, whose singing may for some tastes be too fey. Still, as recorded in vivid and immediate digital sound by Alpha productions, this disc deserves to be heard by anyone deep into Bach's cantatas. © TiVo

Classical - Released November 16, 2018 | Alpha Classics

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