15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
This is a simply fantastic box of all six volumes of Café Zimmermann's recordings of Bach's "Concerts avec plusiers instruments." These include all six Brandenburg Concertos, the four Overtures or Orchestral Suites and the concertos for violin, oboe and harpsichords in various combinations. I have listed the works below. The music is all magnificent and played with a freshness combined with depth of understanding which is a real joy.
Café Zimmermann are a small ensemble, generally playing with one instrument to a part and this, combined with terrific musicianship and scholarship, gives their interpretations a real zing in the livelier movements and genuine beauty and emotion in the slower passages. To me, this is what Bach should sound like: sometimes dancing, sometimes deeply spiritual, sometimes simply lovely. I have a much-loved set of Bach concertos by Trevor Pinnock and while these won't replace them in my affections, they will certainly stand alongside them and be played at least as often.
The other great strength of these discs is the programming. Many sets of these concertos group, say, the harpsichord concertos or the violin concertos together, and I find that I often don't want to listen to all of them one after another. Here, each disc has one Brandenburg Concerto, for example, and a varied combination of other concertos, so that playing the whole disc is a varied pleasure and I am always happy to let a whole disc play rather than changing it after one or two concertos.
In short, this box - the fruits of ten years' work - is an unalloyed delight and guaranteed to give immense pleasure for many years. Very warmly recommended.
1. Concerto pour clavecin en Ré Mineur, BWV 1052
2. Concerto pour hautbois d'amour en La Majeur, BWV 1055
3. Concerto pour violon en Mi Majeur, BWV 1042
4. Concert Brandebourgeois No. 5 en Ré Majeur, BWV 1050
1. Concert Brandebourgeois No. 3 en Sol Majeur, BWV 1048
2. Concerto pour deux violons & cordes en Ré Mineur, BWV 1043
3. Suite en Ut Majeur, BWV 1066
4. Concerto pour hautbois & violon en Ut Mineur, BWV 1060
1. Concert Brandebourgeois No. 4 en Sol Majeur, BWV 1049
2. Concerto pour hautbois d'amour en Ré Majeur, BWV 1053
3. Concerto pour trois clavecins en Do Majeur, BWV 1064
4. Suite en Si Mineur, BWV 1067
1. Concerto pour violon en La Mineur, BWV 1041
2. Concerto pour 2 clavecins en Ut Majeur, BWV 1061
3. Concerto pour flûte, violon & clavecin en La Mineur, BWV 1044
4. Concert Brandebourgeois No. 2 en Fa Majeur, BWV 1047
1. Ouverture No. 3 en Ré Majeur, BWV 1068
2. Concerto pour clavecin en Fa Mineur, BWV 1056
3. Concerto Brandebourgeois No. 6 en Si Bémol Majeur, BWV 1051
4. Concerto pour trois clavecins en Ré Mineur, BWV 1063
1. Ouverture No. 4 en Ré Majeur, BWV 1069
2. Concerto pour clavecin en La Majeur, BWV 1055
3. Concert Brandebourgeois No. 1 en Fa Majeur, BWV 1046
4. Concerto pour quatre clavecins en Ré Mineur, BWV 1065
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Choosing Desert Island Discs - even multiple disc sets - is a dicey business. No matter how alluring a choice might be at a given moment, familiarity and exposure and time spent listening may drop the rank a few notches, at least temporarily. A very, very, very few discs or sets stand out, nonetheless, and seem to be desert island listening from the first compelling notes.
For me, this completely marvelous Cafe Zimmermann set of JS Bach instrumental music challenges the test, and passes with gold medals all around.
CZ is a small ensemble, but never sounds slack, thin, ho-hum, or dutiful. If you want to hear your JSB played by musicians who really sound like they are having a whale of a good time, CZ likely is at least one among your probable choices. I have many other fav shelf items wherein I cherished this or that, ... say, the Brandeburg Concertos, the Four Instrumental Suites, the violin concertos, the keyboard concertos. I fell in love with all of them, with each of them.
CZ simply adds to, amplifies, and enhances the JSB fav shelves. There is not a single outing in this plentiful set that cannot joyously stand passing comparison with any other reading on the shelf. No matter who else sits in savory protection already, it is a distinct and varied pleasure to add Cafe Zimmermann to the existing collection.
So what about the playing? Let's start with virtuosity. Consistently the CZ players show a superbly fluent mastery of the technical aspects of playing their instruments. Committed without exception, they sink deeply into rich tonal values, alert and meaningful phrasing, and all the readings are pervaded by the kind of energy and joy that seems to occasion human singing and music making in the first place. From single notes to polyphony to whole paragraphs that end up seamlessly embedded in whole movements, CZ lays out the music finely indeed. As a prior reviewer has noted, the selection on each single disc of this set is varied, so that one never has a chance to tire of some particular genre, even though JSB seems inexhaustible to most of us listeners, most of the time.
I suspect over time this set offers me so much, so continuously, that I may come to feel all of these really excellent readings as a sort of highly indulgent, luxurious, guilty pleasure. Listening to these discs is like opening a six-layered box of Godiva chocolates, and the promises of such stimulating satiation on so many different musical levels may possibly leave me a bit dizzy or manic. Think sugar rush, in the finest way of course. Good news: nothing in these six discs is fattening, except perhaps to tingle the aural and kinesthetic senses, awaken the mind on more than one level, and valorize the genuine yet lush spirituality which helps us return to hearing JS Bach music, again and again and again.
Five stars. For sure, this entire set, every track. Bravo, Cafe Zimmermann. No regrets, none, none at all, not a hint of a whit. CZ, you are a keeper that more than earns your keep. Kudos, and thanks, to all involved in making this set possible.