In early 19th-century in Vienna, the popularity of Schubert’s songs and dance music became so great that concert parties were entirely devoted to them. These parties, called Schubertiaden, were given in the homes of wealthier friends or aficionados of Schubert's music, but the wider worlds of opera and public concerts still eluded him.
During Schubert's lifetime, these events were generally informal, unadvertised gatherings, held at private homes. While in those years many Schubertiaden included the composer's participation, this was not necessary, and they were sometimes held in places other than Vienna, where Schubert spent most of his life. In addition to Schubert's music, they often also featured poetry readings, dancing, and other sociable pastimes. Attendees numbered from a handful to over one hundred.
Today, our Schubertiaden project has the goal of recreating the spirit and essence of those homonymous historic events; creating informal gatherings in intimate spaces and private homes, sponsored by hosts, who directly invite their guests and friends. In addition to Schubert's chamber music, these concerts can also include music by other composers performed with diverse ensembles and flexible instrumentation.
This project comes to life through the same deep appreciation of Schubert’s music, which inspired me earlier to do my doctoral research about the interpretation of his music and to release three recordings, which include Schubert's complete works for violin and piano as well as pieces that had not been previously documented on recordings.
Tomas Cotik, Founder
“an excellent violinist”
“I marvel at the technical skill which effortlessly encompasses these deeply contrasting styles....a technical as well as expressive master stroke”
“conviction, commitment, diplomacy, and character”
“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”
“this superbly produced Schubert disc…comes warmly commended”
“bemerkenswert, kunstvolle und expressive Interpretationen...auf hohem Niveau und den jeweiligen Stilen perfekt angepasst”
“laudable level of technical accuracy…tenderness and warmth”
“None of these pieces has ever sounded quite like this before....Cotik handles it beautifully, with tremendous clarity of line and evenness of tone”
“Hace muy poco descubrí esta maravilla...dos extraordinarios instrumentalistas que uniendo su talento logran...algo genial.”
“Evocative concert of Jewish classical music”
“ There are so many delightful details to savour that one hardly knows where to begin...a most rewarding Mozart cycle”
“The BBC Music team’s current favourites”
“The technical qualities of the recording - which is on the NAXOS label, by the way - are excellent.”
“Cotik and the orchestra provided impressive advocacy for a multifaceted work that deserves to be heard more often. Cotik seamlessly handled the frequent changes in mood and adroitly traversed the work’s myriad technical challenges while always keeping the focus on the music.”
“If you love the solo violin, you won't find a better recording to suit your tastes”
“this is clearly a team to watch. I am sure we will be hearing good things from them in the future”
“clarity and tonal opulence rare in recordings of violin music”
“wonderful album…impressive for the elegance and sensitivity of the interpretations”
“un violinista excelente... que recoge una forma rigurosa, natural y fuera de lo común de entender e interpretar la música”
“there is no question that this disc is, by some distance, Naxos's best Piazzolla recording ”
“excellent style, which is not frequently found”
“I highly commend Mr. Cotik for his innovative interpretations and I hope many future audiences will experience his musical excellence”
“una nueva forma de mirar, entender y percibir la música de diferentes épocas”
“recreating the visceral charge of Piazzolla’s legendary quintet concerts and recordings”
“The Piazzolla album is not just Cotik as brilliant interpreter, but also as creative mind.”
“One imagines the Nuevo tango master would be as captivated as any listener by such exquisite performances.”
“Anche nell’interpretazione delle sonate di Mozart si evidenziano l’ottima cavata e la perfetta tecnica di Cotik negli staccati particolarmente brillanti.”
“outstanding from the very beginning”
“I find the Cotik and Lin performances most interesting and the sound on their disc is excellent”
“Cotik Kicks Butt in Piazzolla! A wild and wonderful CD.”
“A neglected stash of unrecorded Schubert”
“unusual depth and broad compass...absolutely brilliant... unmistakable vitality...optimally recorded”
“I was immediately impressed by their virtuosity and also their understanding of Piazzolla’s music. I was anxious to see them perform in person”
“this is one of the great Piazzolla discs, and in perfect sound quality, I urge you to buy it.”
“Overall, these two discs featuring Cotik must be regarded as among the finest performances for their consistent artistry and idiomatic grasp”
“a first-rate set of these of Mozart sonatas”
“Cotik makes Kreisler seem almost smarmy, Isabelle Faust almost mannered, and Julia Fischer as though she's filed down the detail”
“short this is a great recording if you value warmth and sweetness in Mendelssohn. Here, though, nothing is forced, and, as I say, the world seems a better place.”
“None of these pieces has ever sounded quite like this before.”
“a treat from start to finish”
“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”
“excellent violin playing...extremely enjoyable interpretations of music that I love”
“intelligent and sensitive...glories in...colorations and shared emphasis”
“Cotik transcends even the profoundly meditative”
“conviction, commitment, diplomacy and character”
“un trabajo de mucha calidad, por la originalidad de los arreglos y especialmente porque se trata de un excelente instrumentista”
“Las versiones son óptimas por la compenetración estilística del dúo y la prestancia instrumental del admirable violinista”
“NOMINATED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL MUSIC AWARDS 2018”
“This is an excellent recital. I enjoy the Piazzolla Tango Etudes more as played by Cotik than by anyone else. ”
““Legacy” es, sin dudas, un álbum para emocionarse y escuchar continuamente. Excelencia pura. Imprescindible!”
“violinist Tomas Cotik is always up for a new challenge”
“their lofty musicianship dwarfs their profound scholarship”
“Cotik phrases this music with such feeling, making you wonder if it could possibly sound better in any other performance.”
“absolutely impeccable, with intonation in the centre of every note, and his left hand flying around the fingerboard with remarkable agility”
“among the very best Piazzolla albums”
“Supersonic Award winner. Tomas Cotik’s Piazzolla is carnal, passionate and nowhere easy-going. Together with his group he has produced a riveting CD.”
“brilliant Argentinean violinist”
“should leave listeners almost breathless…a vibrancy and attention to detail...strong individuality and… vitality”
“Some of the music is sultry while other works are fast, rhythmic, and ornamented to show the exquisite virtuosity of Cotik”
“Un disco ideal”
“true treasure...one of the latest gems to emerge from the season”
“exceptional...Piazzolla can be played differently than this, but provably not better.”
“Cotik vanta un violinismo costantemente brillante e un colore di suono caldo e avvolgente”
“The joyful virtuosity and stylish musicianship that Tomas Cotik and Tao Lin brought to their superb cycle of Schubert’s violin-and-piano works for the Centaur label happily permeate their cycle of Mozart’s sonatas”
“My first chamber choice for the year. ”
“a musician who prepares thoroughly and has great respect for the music he performs”
“an exemplary presentation of some marvelous music”
“Everyone who plays these works should hear these exemplary performances...you will never hear these Telemann Fantasias played so well ”
“Cotik and Tao Lin have…honored not only their professions as musicians, but the memory and work of Franz Schubert”
“Un disco revelador de la maestría de los jóvenes intérpretes que lo firman: Tomas Cotik y Tao Lin.”
Between 1815-1824, acclaimed house concerts took place in the large family apartment of Sonnleithner in Gundelhof, Vienna. Ignaz Sonnleithner had gathered a group of culturally interested citizens and soon came into contact with Schubert. These house concerts from Sonnleithner offered Schubert a great way to make his works known in Vienna.
The first documented event, which can be described in a narrower sense as a Schubertiade, took place on January 26, 1821 in the home of the Schober’s family. From 1822 on, Schubert used the term himself.
In the first Schubertiaden, Franz Schubert played piano and the baritone Johann Michael Vogl (or later Carl von Schönstein) sang his songs. Readings and witty fun and games, which were often themed, were also typically present among the evenings. These gatherings were a mixture of amicable meetings and literary and musical salons.
Frequent guests were Joseph Sonnleithner, Leopold von Sonnleithner, Fritz and Franz von Hartmann, Anton Doblhoff-Dier, Joseph Huber, Johann Baptist Jenger, Jacob Nicolaus Craigher, the painter Moritz von Schwind, Ludwig Ferdinand Schnorr von Carolsfeld and Wilhelm August Rieder, the poet Johann Mayrhofer, Johann Gabriel Seidl and the composer and conductor Franz Lachner, as well as Schubert's closest friends Joseph von Spaun, Franz von Schober, Karl Enderes, Joseph Witteczek, Joseph of Gahy and Eduard Bauernfield.
Besides Sonnleithner, Schubertiaden were hosted by the painter Ludwig Mohn, the Bruchmann family, the poet Franz von Schlechta, Eduard Bauernfield, and Schober's uncle Joseph Derffel, administrator of the castle Atzenbrugg.
The last major Schubertiade during the composer's lifetime took place on January 28, 1828 at Joseph von Spaun’s residence in the so-called Wiener Klepperställen (between Teinfaltstraße and Schreyvogelgasse). Shortly before this, in the fall of 1827, Franz Schober had hosted Schubert’s presentation and announcement with the words: "a circle of scary songs" – referring to the great song cycle, Winterreise. As evidenced by the previous and similar incidents, the Schubertiaden are also musicologically relevant.
Today, our Schubertiaden project maintains the essence of a culturally relevant and high quality musical event shared in an intimate atmosphere with family and friends that is made possible by a generous host.
Our Centaur album of 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 enthusiastic reviews.
Fanfare Magazine: “outstanding…geniality...brilliance...pure tone...profound scholarship...lofty musicianship...boldness of gesture... subtlety... rich timbral nuance…Cotik and Lin make Kreisler seem almost smarmy...Isabelle Faust almost mannered...and Julia Fischer...as though she's filed down the detail…Urgently recommended.”
MusicWeb International: “I’ve had a listen to a few alternatives…including Isaac Stern and Daniel Barenboim on Sony Classics and Lydia Mordkovitch and Gerhard Oppitz on Chandos, but this duo on Centaur pretty much ticks all the boxes.”
Palm Beach Arts Paper: “Tomas Cotik and Tao Lin have…honored not only their professions as musicians, but the memory and work of Franz Schubert.”
American Record Guide: “excellent violin playing, excellent piano playing, and extremely enjoyable interpretations of music that I love.”
Musical Toronto: “...wonderful album…impressive for the elegance and sensitivity of the interpretations...true treasure...one of the latest gems to emerge from the season..."
Brian Newbould: (Professor Emeritus of Music and Schubert expert): “an enlightened, historically-informed approach to the music… you have gone further than others in this direction.... You both hold balance… between the undeniable virtuoso character of much of the music and the 'inner' spiritual quality… most effectively and the performances place the music credibly as a product of its time and its composer. In other words, I find the combination of brain and heart compelling. You capture the spirit of the music… I very much doubt that Paganini could have come near to playing this music with your understanding.”
The purpose of this doctoral essay is to enhance the study and performance of Franz Schubert’s three major compositions for violin and piano: Duo in A major, op. posth. 162, D. 574, Rondo in B minor, op. 70, D. 895, and Fantasia in C major, op. posth. 159, D. 934. This study offers a description of the historical context and the circumstances of the composition of these pieces, presents an analysis of the form and harmonic language, and discusses recent research on aspects of Schubertian performance style that help the performer make educated interpretative decisions. This research was done prior to making a CD recording; that recording reflects the interpretative and musical understanding that has evolved from the research done for this essay. The recording has been the subject of several reviews, which are included as appendices.
3 Schubert CDs released by CENTAUR RECORDS
Duo Sonata in a major Op. 162, D. 574
Rondo in B minor, Op. 70, D. 895
Fantasy in C major, Op. 159, D. 934
Sonata in D major, Op. posth. 137/1, D.384
Sonata in A minor, Op. posth. 137/2, D.385
Sonata in G minor, Op. posth. 137/3, D. 408