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Café Zimmerman (Instrumental Ensemble)

Founded: 1988 - France

Located in Saint-Catherine street in Leipzig, Gottfried Zimmermann’s coffee house would host weekly concerts by the Collegium Musicum back in the 18th century. The ensemble, founded by Georg Philipp Telemann and conducted by J.S. Bach between 1729 and 1739, performed secular cantatas and instrumental music for an audience of experienced music-lovers: duet or trio sonatas, pieces for solo instruments, concertos for violin, harpsichord, oboe, etc.

At the time,
Leipzig and the neighbouring town of Dresden drew numerous musicians eager to meet the famous Cantor or participate in the rich musical life of the Saxon capital. Hence, Zimmermann’s coffee house offered a broad spectrum from the repertory: music written by J.S. Bach and his sons, by G.P. Telemann and the virtuosos and composers of the Dresden Chapel orchestra, as well as works by the major European composers - whose music mainly circulated in the form of copied or transcribed scores, or else was simply performed by itinerant singers and musicians that passed through Leipzig.

It was this spirit of open-mindedness and conviviality uniting the audience, repertory and musicians which drove
Pablo Valetti and Céline Frisch to found the Café Zimmermann Ensemble in 1998 to explore the orchestral music of that era. They assembled six musicians - five bow instruments and a harpsichord (Pablo Valetti, Nick Robinson, violin; Patricia Gagnon, alto; Petr Skalka, cello; Ludek Brany, double bass and Céline Frisch, harpsichord). Other strings or wind instruments would be added depending on the programme.

Café Zimmermann has been invited to play for numerous seasonal programmes and specialised festivals: the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris, the “Automne Musical” at the Château de Versailles, Baroque music festivals in Pontoise, Sablé sur Sarthe, Lanvellec, the Printemps des Arts in Nantes, etc. The ensemble has also gone on tour abroad (Switzerland, Portugal, Belgium, Poland, Latvia, Argentina, etc.).

In residence in Upper-Normandy, the Café Zimmermann Ensemble receives financial support from the Ministry of Culture (Regional Department of Cultural Affairs) and the County Commission of Upper Normandy. Café Zimmermann is a member of the FEVIS (Federation of Specialized Vocal and Instrumental Ensembles).

Artistic Directors of Café Zimmermann are:
Pablo Valetti, violin and Konzertmeister and Céline Frisch, harpsichord.

“(…) the interpretations are characterised by an incredible energy (…), at the height of their craft, these musicians combine energy and subtlety. (…) The blend of the musicians’ exuberant enthusiasm and their musical refinement is enhanced by the heightened sense of their group relationship. Bach’s polyphonic structures emerge as lively conversations in which each participant plays an important role.” {CD Bach Concerts with Several Instruments II, editor’s note}- Uri Golomb, Goldberg, August 2004


Source: Amba France Website
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (December 2007)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Gustav Leonhardt


BWV 30a, BWV 207
Video (2007): Sinfonias from
BWV 31, BWV 209

Links to other Sites

The Café Zimmermann Ensemble(Amba France) [PDF]


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Last update: Monday, May 29, 2017 00:37