Caffe=Hauß Zimmermann

CD cover Caffe=Hauß Zimmermann

Anne-Suse Enßle recorder, Reinhard Führer harpsichord
Audax Records ADX13719
Music by Albinoni, J. S. Bach, F. Couperin, Goldberg & Telemann

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This is a delightful ‘what if?’ of a CD. What if an 18th-century recorder virtuoso had happened into Leipzig in the 1730s and inevitably drifted into the orbit of J. S. Bach and his Collegium Musicum at the Caffe-Hauß Zimmermann? So impressed would the great master have been that he would have devised a programme around the player, incorporating and arranging his own music as well as that of his contemporaries and pupils, much as we know that he did in other contexts. While this may well never have happened in reality, there is no reason to rule it out, and the recorder player Anne-Suse Enßle and her harpsichord accompanist Reinhard Führer have devised a splendidly entertaining and entirely plausible programme. Compositions and arrangements by Bach rub shoulders with original recorder music by Albinoni and Bach’s student. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg, doomed to be forever associated with the eponymous variations by Bach, but a fine composer and virtuoso in his own right. The final work on the CD is the enigmatic Sonata BWV 1033, known as ‘The Patchwork’ as it appears to have been cobbled together from various Bach sources. Barthold Kuijken first proposed the idea that it might be a homage by his pupils to the great master, compiled precisely perhaps for performance in Zimmermann’s. Anne-Suse Enßle employs a battery of six different recorders in her bravura account of this imaginative and musically satisfying programme, and she is superbly supported by Reinhard Führer on a 1981 Kroesbergen harpsichord based on Flemish models. If the context is something of a fantasy, then we are surely entitled to conjure up an enthusiastic Zimmerman’s audience, who between cups of steaming coffee would have thoroughly enjoyed this rich and varied programme and this stellar performance.

D. James Ross