Café Zimmermann is a highly acclaimed early music ensemble who perform on original instruments and employ historic performance practices.
It consists of six core members, two on violin, one each on alto, cello, and double bass, and one on harpsichord. Depending on repertory, Café Zimmermann often augment its number by adding additional strings and winds. Not surprisingly, the focus of its repertory has largely been music of the Baroque era, particularly works by J.S. Bach. It has also performed a fair amount of French Baroque music, including works by Lully, Marais, and lesser knowns Jean-Henri d'Anglebert, Pierre de la Garde, Michel Corrette, and others. Its repertory also extends into the Classical era, taking in works by Haydn and Mozart. CZ has toured throughout Europe, the U.K., and the Americas and has made numerous recordings, all available from Alpha Productions.
Café Zimmermann was founded in France in 1998 by first violinist and concertmaster Pablo Valetti and the enbsemble's harpsichordist Céline Frisch. The other members are Nick Robinson, violin; Patricia Gagnon, alto; Petr Skalka, cello; and Ludek Brany, double bass.
The ensemble's name derives from Gottfried Zimmermann's Leipzig-based coffee house, which hosted regular concerts by Telemann's Collegium Musicum, from 1723. J.S. Bach served as the ensemble's music director from 1729-1739. Based in Upper Normandy, France, the CZ attracted the attention of critics and public alike from its earliest days. Its precision, collective virtuosity, and well-chosen tempos, along with the deft use of ornamentation by the harpsichordist, were among the characteristics noted by critics.
By the new century the CZ was internationally acclaimed and in 2001 its first volume in an ambitious series of J.S. Bach instrumental works was issued by Alpha Productions, a CD of harpsichord concertos BWV 1052 and BWV 1055; Violin Concerto, BWV 1042; and Brandenburg Concerto No. 5. Other successful recordings followed, including a 2005 disc of works by d'Anglebert (Pièces de clavecin). In fall 2007 CZ had a successful tour of the U.S., which included highly praised concerts in November at the Library of Congress featuring works by J.S. Bach and C.P.E. Bach.
Its concert successes have continued with acclaimed appearances at the 2011 International Piano Festival in La Roque-d'Anthéron, France, and at the Early Music Festival in Innsbruck, Austria. Vol. 5 of CZ's ongoing J.S. Bach series, featuring Brandenburg Concerto No. 6 and other works, was issued on CD in 2011.