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paul secor

Cafe Zimmermann

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I've listened to Café Zimmermann's Bach recordings over the past few years and there have been times when I've found them almost unlistenable. Some of the tempi have seemed so rushed that I wondered if someone had spiked their morning coffee with amphetamines (only half joking). Today, when I listened, all seemed fine. So the problem is evidently with me, not with them.

Anyway, I wonder if anyone here has any opinions or thoughts to share about their listening experiences with this ensemble.

I'll just keep listening and hope that things continue as they did today.

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The tempos can be justified by research on early 18th century performance practice, but it takes excellent musicians to stay relaxed - and especially when taking the high level challenges of Bach pieces.If some players in the ensemble tend to drag the tempo, the leaders/soloists want to pull them, and this never sounds good. I haven't listened to them in a while, but mostly because I dislike the instrumental balance in the room where they record, rendering the harpsichord inaudible in many passages. And they use harpsichord types never available to Bach. 

I have practically everything they recorded on CDs by other ensembles in more satisfying versions.

Edited by mikeweil

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I bought the Cafe Zimmerman set after reading some highly laudatory reviews. Must admit to being somewhat disappointed after listening to it.

Tempos are too fast (for my taste), and as Mike said, the balance seems less than ideal.

Though there are some exceptions, my preference is for modern instruments.

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They have a rather brisk approach, which - depending on my mood - can be either uplifting or irritating .... btw only bought Bach Vol. 1 - and gave it away recently (still not sure this was the right move though) .....

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The Zimmermann recordings are the ones I probably listen to the most. Wonderful! First heard them a few years ago on the radio - an exhilarating romp through BWV 1050 (if memory serves) and I was hooked! In part perhaps because they were "new", but I've enjoyed them ever since and they're still invigorating. They're brisk, but they never sound rushed to me.

No need need to dispense with any of the older recordings of course. The Zimmermann are an excellent complement. 

edit: Soulpope - get those recordings back! Heck, get their new 16 cd box set and just accept feeling irritated more often! :D

Edited by Marzz

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I love Zimmermanns! I do not find the tempos rushed, in fact I don't think they are faster than most of the modern recordings, it is just that they have this springy tight feel about them, which I actually find very appealing. I really like the way they are recorded too - such a full warm sound. Yes, harpsichord on Bach recordings is a bit in the background, but in general harpsichord loses a lot of its timbral colors when recorded with an orchestra (IMHO), and I still have to hear a record where a harpsichord would sound good with a larger group (I love good solo harpsichord, no problems with the instrument in general). And Zimmermanns' Vivaldi is really excellent (definitely not the fastest I've heard and with very audible harpsichord): 

           

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I listened to a third CD in their Bach set this morning and enjoyed it. Obviously, any problem is with me (and where my mood is at) rather than with them.

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I love them! Definitely my favourite Brandenburg recording.  Their CPE Bach is wonderful too

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On 1/14/2019 at 11:14 AM, paul secor said:

I listened to a third CD in their Bach set this morning and enjoyed it. Obviously, any problem is with me (and where my mood is at) rather than with them.

I find that to be true of more things in life than is often uncomfortable to easily admit.

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