The present album is the second installment of Schubert’s complete works for violin and piano, following the Centaur Records release from December 3, 2012 (CRC 3250). That disc, which includes Schubert’s Duo in A major, Rondo in B minor, and Fantasia in C major, was selected as “Recording of the Year” by Albert Lam from the British publication MusicWeb International, was broadcast all over the United States by American Public Media, and received numerous rave reviews in the international press, including Fanfare Magazine and MusicWeb International, which compared the CD favorably with many famous recordings including the legendary version by Rachmaninoff and Kreisler. Schubert expert and Professor Emeritus, Brian Newbould, also hailed the recording as “an enlightened, historically-informed approach to the music, which balances between the undeniable virtuoso character of much of the music and the 'inner' spiritual quality;” further stating: "I find the combination of brain and heart compelling. I very much doubt that Paganini could have come near to playing this music with this understanding.”
Schubert lived in a time of war, bombardments and occupancy of Vienna by Napoleon’s army, the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire, and political oppression. The rich, artistic life of Vienna and the vitality of its musical life sometimes makes one forget those difficult circumstances. Music provided distraction at those times; as entertainment, it might have actually helped the general populace cope better with the repressive police state ruled by Emperor Francis, whose reign covered Schubert’s entire life. Music was also heard at church as well as in public concerts. There was music everywhere in Vienna.
Francis was the head of the House of Austria, which included approximately the area of today’s Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia and bits of Poland, Belgium and Luxemburg. France declared war on Austria a few weeks into the beginning of Francis’ reign in 1792. This began a period of more than two decades of wars that spread though different continents. The first seventeen years of Schubert’s life (b. 1797) were marked by these wars and their consequences. Among these consequences were anxiety, poverty, and a confined cultural life.
Twice during the Napoleonic wars, in 1805 and 1809, Vienna suffered occupation by French troops, with their associated difficulties. Schubert was eight and twelve years old respectively. Life in Vienna was particularly difficult after the Treaty of Schoenbrunn was signed in 1809, after Austria tried unsuccessfully to fight Napoleon. In 1812, Napoleon’s defeat was celebrated by Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory and Schubert’s Auf den Sieg der Deutschen (On the Victory of the Germans), D. 81. On April 15, 1814, after Napoleon’s abdication, the allies entered Paris and Schubert wrote his song for bass, Die Befreier Europas in Paris (The liberators of Europe in Paris), D. 104. From September 1814 to June 1815, an International Congress convened in Vienna to restore peace and order in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars.
There were no major European wars after the Congress of Vienna (1814-15), and this coincides with the period during which Schubert composed most of his works. “Tranquility and Order” was the motto of this period, and Austria was known for the omnipresence of police surveillance, political repression and suspicion of even the slightest unorthodox idea. The police state had actually started much earlier and also paralleled the war with France.
The Biedermeier was a period when Viennese society was turned inward, to home and family, and to innocent nonpolitical activities, as a distraction from the oppression of that repressive police state. At this time, Hausmusik (music in the home) was in ascendance. These gatherings were the most common venues for music at the time and were cultivated by the educated middle class. There were very few families who did not appreciate being entertained by chamber music, which was mostly performed in gatherings of family and friends and in private salons.
Besides these house concerts, music could be heard at public concerts and the theater. Schubert, in contrast to Beethoven, lived mainly among the middle class and was the only true Viennese among the composers of the first Viennese School. His music was mostly performed in the intimate company of informal musical gatherings centered about him, which were called Schubertiaden. His circle of friends also held reading evenings, evenings of dancing, party games, and countryside trips. There was also a more serious side to this group, especially around 1820, a time when Schubert and some of his friends shared a nonconformist attitude toward life and art and considered the norms of their society hypocritical. Therefore, they celebrated egalitarianism and intellectual honesty. Even Franz Schubert was arrested at this time, with his former schoolmate Johann Senn, when they were suspected of being members of an outlawed student organization. Schubert’s dissatisfaction with the regime was evidenced by his involvement with the secret Unsinn-Gesellschaft (Society of Absurdity), which staged original plays and published members’ newsletters that ridiculed contemporary politics, scientific discoveries, drama, and literature.
“None of these pieces has ever sounded quite like this before.”
“unusual depth and broad compass...absolutely brilliant... unmistakable vitality...optimally recorded”
“brilliant Argentinean violinist”
“intelligent and sensitive...glories in...colorations and shared emphasis”
“Cotik phrases this music with such feeling, making you wonder if it could possibly sound better in any other performance.”
“This is an excellent recital. I enjoy the Piazzolla Tango Etudes more as played by Cotik than by anyone else. ”
“this is one of the great Piazzolla discs, and in perfect sound quality, I urge you to buy it.”
“clarity and tonal opulence rare in recordings of violin music”
“Cotik transcends even the profoundly meditative”
“If you love the solo violin, you won't find a better recording to suit your tastes”
“un disco la cui qualità riesce a proporre la freschezza affascinante della cultura musicale germanica come nuova, come se non si fossero mai ascoltate prima”
“I marvel at the technical skill which effortlessly encompasses these deeply contrasting styles....a technical as well as expressive master stroke”
“The technical qualities of the recording - which is on the NAXOS label, by the way - are excellent.”
“I highly commend Mr. Cotik for his innovative interpretations and I hope many future audiences will experience his musical excellence”
“The Piazzolla album is not just Cotik as brilliant interpreter, but also as creative mind.”
“I find the Cotik and Lin performances most interesting and the sound on their disc is excellent”
“excellent violin playing...extremely enjoyable interpretations of music that I love”
“I was immediately impressed by their virtuosity and also their understanding of Piazzolla’s music. I was anxious to see them perform in person”
“bemerkenswert, kunstvolle und expressive Interpretationen...auf hohem Niveau und den jeweiligen Stilen perfekt angepasst”
“absolutely impeccable, with intonation in the centre of every note, and his left hand flying around the fingerboard with remarkable agility”
“Cotik makes Kreisler seem almost smarmy, Isabelle Faust almost mannered, and Julia Fischer as though she's filed down the detail”
“laudable level of technical accuracy…tenderness and warmth”
“un violinista excelente... que recoge una forma rigurosa, natural y fuera de lo común de entender e interpretar la música”
“Overall, these two discs featuring Cotik must be regarded as among the finest performances for their consistent artistry and idiomatic grasp”
“Everyone who plays these works should hear these exemplary performances...you will never hear these Telemann Fantasias played so well ”
“this is clearly a team to watch. I am sure we will be hearing good things from them in the future”
“wonderful album…impressive for the elegance and sensitivity of the interpretations”
“A neglected stash of unrecorded Schubert”
“I’ve had a listen to a few alternatives…including Isaac Stern with Daniel Baremboim and Lydia Mordkovitch, but this duo pretty much ticks all the boxes”
“un trabajo de mucha calidad, por la originalidad de los arreglos y especialmente porque se trata de un excelente instrumentista”
“recreating the visceral charge of Piazzolla’s legendary quintet concerts and recordings”
“My first chamber choice for the year. ”
“Un disco revelador de la maestría de los jóvenes intérpretes que lo firman: Tomas Cotik y Tao Lin.”
“should leave listeners almost breathless…a vibrancy and attention to detail...strong individuality and… vitality”
“among the very best Piazzolla albums”
“violinist Tomas Cotik is always up for a new challenge”
“exceptional...Piazzolla can be played differently than this, but provably not better.”
“Evocative concert of Jewish classical music”
“Cotik vanta un violinismo costantemente brillante e un colore di suono caldo e avvolgente”
“The BBC Music team’s current favourites”
“this superbly produced Schubert disc…comes warmly commended”
“a musician who prepares thoroughly and has great respect for the music he performs”
“Hace muy poco descubrí esta maravilla...dos extraordinarios instrumentalistas que uniendo su talento logran...algo genial.”
“Las versiones son óptimas por la compenetración estilística del dúo y la prestancia instrumental del admirable violinista”
“una nueva forma de mirar, entender y percibir la música de diferentes épocas”
“Cotik and Tao Lin have…honored not only their professions as musicians, but the memory and work of Franz Schubert”
“their lofty musicianship dwarfs their profound scholarship”
“conviction, commitment, diplomacy, and character”
“None of these pieces has ever sounded quite like this before....Cotik handles it beautifully, with tremendous clarity of line and evenness of tone”
“there is no question that this disc is, by some distance, Naxos's best Piazzolla recording ”
“excellent style, which is not frequently found”
“an exemplary presentation of some marvelous music”
“an excellent violinist”
“a treat from start to finish”
“Some of the music is sultry while other works are fast, rhythmic, and ornamented to show the exquisite virtuosity of Cotik”
“outstanding from the very beginning”
“true treasure...one of the latest gems to emerge from the season”
...Cotik/Lin performances are clear, crisp and vigorous, and undoubtedly informed by Cotik's doctoral dissertation on Schubert. Tempos are generally brisk,...Cadences are emphatic...Most of their interpretations leave little to be desired.... this is a very impressive disc.
Cotik and Lin phrase this music with such feeling, making you wonder if it could possibly sound better in any other performance. There have been many great artists who have delved into some of this repertory, from Kreisler and Rachmaninov to the brilliant young Julia Fischer and Martin Helmchen. Overall, these two discs featuring Cotik and Lin must be regarded as among the finest performances for their consistent artistry and idiomatic grasp on Schubert's quirky and wide-ranging style. Highly recommended!
Les Sonates per a violí i piano de Franz Schubert no són les seves peces més conegudes, ni tan sols de la producció cambrística. N’acostumen a ser més interpretats i apreciats els quartets de corda, entre els quals La mort i la donzella (o el que tanca la sèrie, d’intuïcions no menys poderoses ni sinistres), el seu expansiu quintet amb pianoLa Truita o els dos trios amb piano. I sense oblidar, per descomptat, el Quintet per a corda, una de les peces de referència, única en el patrimoni musical. Davant el relatiu oblit de les seves composicions per a violí i piano, inevitablement a l’ombra de les de Beethoven i fins i tot de les de Mozart, suposa una grata sorpresa descobrir aquest enregistrament, el segon, que completa la sèrie de sonates interpretades per Tomas Cotik (violí) i Tao Lin (piano). Els mitjans nord-americans van celebrar profusament l’edició anterior, i en aquesta es repeteix la frescor i intensitat de les interpretacions. La qualitat de les lectures de les tres peces és notable, si bé destaca per la seva factura –més extensa, intricada i lírica– la Sonata en La menor, op. post. 137/2, D. 385.
Tomas Cotik, native Argentinian whose international career is on the rise in the U.S., Canada and Germany, brings a beautfully expressive sound to a delightful program of three sonatas by Franz Schubert...,making the present CD one you will want to listen to often. Tomas Cotik, who did his his doctoral research on interpretation of Schubert's sonatas, applies his costumary warmth to the task in these recordings...
Tomas Cotik is an Argentinean violinist who has studied in the United States, Germany, and Canada. He has partnered with Chinese-American Tao Lin to record all of Schubert’s works for violin and piano, and this second installment has the early sonatas that Schubert wrote in 1816 when he was 19.
Both musicians are technically very good, and their interpretations are always tasteful and intelligent
Estas tres sonatas para violín, de inspiración mozartiana, son un claro ejemplo de diálogo equilibrado y sutil que mantienen el violín y el piano; Schubert dominaba a la par los dos instrumentos.
Tomas Cotik escribe en las notas que acompañan al disco su apasionada investigación sobre el contexto instrumental e interpretativo de las sonatas. El resultado es una fantástica grabación realizada en el Maurice Gusman Concert Hall de la Universidad de Miami.
Tomas Cotik y Tao Lin construyen un relato musical de un fuerte carácter melódico, en el que van destilando las influencias románticas y van dejando constancia de sus particulares referencias a la sencillez y a la naturalidad de la música de Schubert, convirtiéndola en un todo que fluye y se transforma. Muy posiblemente, el enorme potencial de Cotik nos llega a través de los sentimientos que el artista evoca en una música que está llena de energía .
... in realtà la parte del violino è, a lavoro concluso, tutt’altro che semplice o secondaria, cioè tutt’altro che relegata a mero “accompagnamento”. Anche per questo motivo un giovane e talentosissimo virtuoso come Cotik ha deciso di riportare le Sonate al centro di un progetto esecutivo, di reale riscoperta delle originarie sonorità e delle effettive difficoltà espressive dei testi...Del resto, nelle note del booklet, è lo stesso Cotik – che alla musica da camera di Schubert ha dedicato anche la propria tesi dottorale ....Tre pagine minori della Vienna degli anni del celebre Congresso, rese con uno studio e un’attenzione solitamente riservati ai più frequentati capolavori pianistici di Schubert: un disco la cui qualità riesce a proporre la freschezza affascinante della cultura musicale germanica come nuova, come se le tre piccole Sonate non si fossero mai ascoltate prima.
The Argentine-born violinist Tomás Cotik has had a busy career in South Florida since earning his doctorate at the University of Miami.... Among his fields of study is the music of Franz Schubert, and he and pianist Tao Lin have just released a second disc of the composer’s music for violin and piano, making for a complete survey. Tonight and Saturday, the two will perform all these works on two concerts at All Saints Episcopal Church in Fort Lauderdale as a celebration of the recordings’ release.
Éste es el esperado segundo volumen que completa la grabación integral de las obras para violín y piano del compositor austríaco que... le valió al dúo una nominación a “Grabación del año” por Albert Lam, de la publicación británica MusicWeb International, y excelentes críticas....interpretación perfecta y equilibrada de los músicos... la calidad de esta grabación...reside... en su propia interpretación...Como en el primer volumen, el acercamiento que realiza Cotik, también productor en este disco, se basa en la investigación del contexto histórico de cada pieza con el objetivo de conocer la práctica habitual en la interpretación en el momento de su composición...El resultado es un disco cuidado y trabajado hasta el más mínimo detalle, que conserva la creatividad, la espontaneidad y la elegancia de la música de cámara y, por si fuera ya poco, recoge la sensibilidad romántica de Schubert.
This is the second volume of Franz Schubert's complete works for violin and piano... Volume One, though it received exceptional critical press... Tomas Cotik is a fine young violinist with a catholic range of tastes. Born in Argentina, Dr. Cotik... present a fine program of three posthumously-published violin sonatas.
Tomas Cotik and Tao Lin play as if they were simply meeting for one of these informal house concerts, with a playful and affectionate partnership....the two artists clearly recognize what was going on during that time period...there are all kinds of sly winks to various music of the day, and Cotik and Lin effortlessly highlight these without ever becoming silly or mannered. Fans of Romantic chamber music will doubtless be intrigued by this carefully considered and beautifully recorded disc.
Cotik has recently released another recording, made in 2013, of works for violin and piano. The pianist on the disc is Tao Lin....The disc is titled ''Franz Schubert,'' and it contains three sonatas by that composer: D. 384, D.385, and D. 408. The same rich and variable tone and solid technique are in evidence here...The balance between violin and piano is spot-on. The recording doesn't ask as much work from the listener. It amuses, as well as stimulates.
Robert W. Plyer
In Fanfare 36:3, I urgently recommended Tomás Cotik's and Tao Lin's reading of Franz Schubert's "Duo" in A Major, Rondo in B Minor, and Fantasy in C Major (Centaur 3250). This "second installment," as the booklet describes it, includes only the three sonatas originally published--and still sometimes published to this day--as "sonatinas," but originally designated "sonatas" by the composer.
The Second Sonata's opening movement benefits as much as do the earlier sonata's outer ones from increased forward momentum: drama, though abundant, never trumps lyricism. The duo remains sensitive to opportunities for dialogue, even in passages that may not offer such obvious possibilities--in measures, for example, in which throbbing chords accompany slower-moving lines in the violin part. Because they're listening to each other, Cotik and Lin make listeners pay attention to them as well. They enhance their reading of the second movement with effective dynamic contrasts and great beauty of tone--Lin's as well as Cotik's (Cotik's preference for vibrato as an ornament in these works hardly prevents him from generating great insinuating warmth in the lower registers).... Cotik and Lin find transforming musical interest--and rhetoric--even in its prima facie most repetitious passages.
Cotik never indulges in violinistic brilliance at the expense of music, but he sounds consistently brilliant nevertheless.
Listeners who prefer the beguiling beauty of Pinchas Zukerman's readings of these works in the grand manner with Marc Neikrug, released on Biddulph 80250, which I urgently recommended in Fanfare 34:5, may not find Cotik's different angle of observation equally revealing; but for those open to so thoughtful a violinist as Cotik, these readings should stand beside them on the shelf. Strongly recommended for its thoughtful and well-informed notes as well as for its thoughtful and well-informed performances.
Tomas Cotik and Tao Lin form a perfectly balanced duo, and their Schubert performances flow naturally, with subtle nuances and much of a very appropriated elegance. A true Schubertiade!
Der argentinische Geiger Tomas Cotil und der amerikanisch-chinesische Pianist Tao Lin haben es sich nicht leicht gemacht mit ihren Schubert-Interpretationen. Wie akribisch sie die Quellen analysiert haben und daraus ein Konzept erarbeiteten, erklärt Cotik sehr genau im Textheft dieser CD.
Der Violinist, der mit einer Dissertation über Schubert promovierte, stellt sich in den Aufnahmen nicht in den Vordergrund, sondern er sieht den Pianisten als gleichberechtigten Partner an. Das ergibt ein gemeinsames Atmen, ein gemeinsames Reden, wie man es in solcher Transparenz selten so perfekt zu hören bekommt. Sicher ging es den beiden nicht darum, virtuos zu glänzen, sondern sie spielen in der Intimität eines Kammerkonzerts und somit reiner richtigen Schubertiade. Nichts wird forciert, die Phrasierung ist feingesteuert, die Musik erklingt nuancenreich, mit Wärme und Eleganz.
WHEN THE VIOLIN SOARS - 4 STARTS - ++++
Insightful and captivating, the performances of three Schubert sonatas by Tomas Cotik and Tao Lin. True, some performances make the violin works seem rather superficial, their performance difficulties relatively arbitrary, their undoubted tunefulness less at the service of pervasive lyricism than in other Schubert pieces. What Cotik and Lin do so well on a new Centaur CD is to show that these impressions are in fact performance-related rather than inherent in the music. These three posthumously published sonatas – for whose recording Cotik is producer as well as performer – sing beautifully here...what Cotik and Lin show is that even these comparatively straightforward, unproblematic pieces sound wonderful in the right hands and with the right sensitivity to period performance style – which is here in abundance...rather than turn their performances into mannered or straitlaced readings, those studies seem to have inspired both violinist and pianist to genuinely involving encounters with this unfairly neglected music. The result is exhilarating music-making, with all the accoutrements of encountering previously unknown works and the rather startling realization that these sonatas are not at all unknown – they are just not known to be as good, as effective and as musically and emotionally satisfying as they are here.