NAXOS' highlight release for October 2017 is a very special recording titled Legacy, featuring violinist Tomás Cotik and pianist Tao Lin, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Astor Piazzolla’s death. This album includes some of the composer’s most memorable works, like the Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, Milonga del ángel, Adiós nonino, and Balada para un loco. Other featured artists include singer Alfredo Lerida, percussionists Alex Wadner and Bradley Loudis, and double bassist Jeffrey Kipperman. Cotik and Lin previously collaborated on the popular Piazzolla album Tango Nuevo, in which Fanfare wrote “lovers of tango music will definitely want this fascinating disc.”
Nuevo tango master Astor Piazzolla (born 11 March 1921, died 4 July 1992) packed a lot of living into his writing and his playing.
Tango is the music of Buenos Aires, but the man who would challenge so many of the traditions and clichés within tango, and in doing so create the revolutionary Nuevo tango, was not even a porteño, as the inhabitants of Buenos Aires are called. Astor Piazzolla was born in Mar del Plata, a resort town on the Atlantic coast of Argentina, about 250 miles south of Buenos Aires. When he was just four years old, his family moved to New York’s Lower East Side, then a tough neighbourhood populated by gangsters seemingly from every denomination. Astor was short and walked with a limp due to a congenital condition, so he fought his way to respect. The other kids called him ‘Lefty’, acknowledging his punch.
He grew up listening to Italian songs, klezmer music, jazz and, late at night, the tangos his father played at home to alleviate his homesickness. Piazzolla hated tango, but when his father bought him a bandoneon, the button squeezebox that is the quintessential instrument of tango, he set out to learn it ‘just to please him’, he once said. There were no bandoneon teachers around, so he learned the instrument by playing transcriptions of Bach, Schumann and Mozart. He was 13 when he met the iconic tango singer Carlos Gardel, in town to shoot a couple of movies for Paramount. After hearing him play, Gardel famously told him ‘Mirá pibe, el fuelle lo tocás bárbaro, pero al tango lo tocás como un gallego’ (‘Look kid, the squeezebox you play great, but the tango you play like a gringo’).
Piazzolla was still very much a gringo when the family returned to Argentina in 1937, three years later. Even his Spanish was not that good. While in Mar del Plata, he took bandoneon lessons and also heard violinist Elvino Vardaro’s sextet on the radio. His modernist approach awakened in him a new interest in tango. In 1939, he left Mar del Plata to try his luck in Buenos Aires. He joined the orchestra of the great bandoneonist and composer Anibal Troilo, and after a four-year apprenticeship, he left to form his own orchestra.
But playing tango for the dancers in a cabaret was never Piazzolla’s goal. He studied with composer Alberto Ginastera, wrote music for film and won a classical music competition that led to studies in Paris with Nadia Boulanger in 1954. Whatever musical technique she taught him, the most profound impact was her blessing of his tango. He didn’t have to be a classical musician to write serious music, he could be Piazzolla. So, upon his return to Buenos Aires in 1955, he formed his Octet, which marked a before and after in tango history.
“Overall, these two discs featuring Cotik must be regarded as among the finest performances for their consistent artistry and idiomatic grasp”
“this is clearly a team to watch. I am sure we will be hearing good things from them in the future”
“I highly commend Mr. Cotik for his innovative interpretations and I hope many future audiences will experience his musical excellence”
“If you love the solo violin, you won't find a better recording to suit your tastes”
“conviction, commitment, diplomacy, and character”
“outstanding from the very beginning”
“Evocative concert of Jewish classical music”
“This is an excellent recital. I enjoy the Piazzolla Tango Etudes more as played by Cotik than by anyone else. ”
“true treasure...one of the latest gems to emerge from the season”
“this is one of the great Piazzolla discs, and in perfect sound quality, I urge you to buy it.”
“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 ”
“an excellent violinist”
“I was immediately impressed by their virtuosity and also their understanding of Piazzolla’s music. I was anxious to see them perform in person”
“The BBC Music team’s current favourites”
“Cotik transcends even the profoundly meditative”
“wonderful album…impressive for the elegance and sensitivity of the interpretations”
“exceptional...Piazzolla can be played differently than this, but provably not better.”
“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”
“their lofty musicianship dwarfs their profound scholarship”
“The Piazzolla album is not just Cotik as brilliant interpreter, but also as creative mind.”
“this superbly produced Schubert disc…comes warmly commended”
“brilliant Argentinean violinist”
“una nueva forma de mirar, entender y percibir la música de diferentes épocas”
“My first chamber choice for the year. ”
“Some of the music is sultry while other works are fast, rhythmic, and ornamented to show the exquisite virtuosity of Cotik”
“Un disco revelador de la maestría de los jóvenes intérpretes que lo firman: Tomas Cotik y Tao Lin.”
“among the very best Piazzolla albums”
“Cotik and Tao Lin have…honored not only their professions as musicians, but the memory and work of Franz Schubert”
“Las versiones son óptimas por la compenetración estilística del dúo y la prestancia instrumental del admirable violinista”
“Cotik makes Kreisler seem almost smarmy, Isabelle Faust almost mannered, and Julia Fischer as though she's filed down the detail”
“The technical qualities of the recording - which is on the NAXOS label, by the way - are excellent.”
“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”
“recreating the visceral charge of Piazzolla’s legendary quintet concerts and recordings”
“absolutely impeccable, with intonation in the centre of every note, and his left hand flying around the fingerboard with remarkable agility”
“bemerkenswert, kunstvolle und expressive Interpretationen...auf hohem Niveau und den jeweiligen Stilen perfekt angepasst”
“clarity and tonal opulence rare in recordings of violin music”
“a treat from start to finish”
“unusual depth and broad compass...absolutely brilliant... unmistakable vitality...optimally recorded”
“A neglected stash of unrecorded Schubert”
“excellent violin playing...extremely enjoyable interpretations of music that I love”
“Cotik vanta un violinismo costantemente brillante e un colore di suono caldo e avvolgente”
“should leave listeners almost breathless…a vibrancy and attention to detail...strong individuality and… vitality”
“Everyone who plays these works should hear these exemplary performances...you will never hear these Telemann Fantasias played so well ”
“Cotik phrases this music with such feeling, making you wonder if it could possibly sound better in any other performance.”
“an exemplary presentation of some marvelous music”
“Hace muy poco descubrí esta maravilla...dos extraordinarios instrumentalistas que uniendo su talento logran...algo genial.”
“un trabajo de mucha calidad, por la originalidad de los arreglos y especialmente porque se trata de un excelente instrumentista”
“a musician who prepares thoroughly and has great respect for the music he performs”
“laudable level of technical accuracy…tenderness and warmth”
“excellent style, which is not frequently found”
“I find the Cotik and Lin performances most interesting and the sound on their disc is excellent”
“violinist Tomas Cotik is always up for a new challenge”
“None of these pieces has ever sounded quite like this before.”
“I marvel at the technical skill which effortlessly encompasses these deeply contrasting styles....a technical as well as expressive master stroke”
“intelligent and sensitive...glories in...colorations and shared emphasis”
“un violinista excelente... que recoge una forma rigurosa, natural y fuera de lo común de entender e interpretar la música”
For the Record, Op. 32: Tomás Cotik; Dover Quartet; Altius Quartet; Quatuor Arod
Welcome to "For the Record," Violinist.com's weekly roundup of new releases of recordings by violinists, violists, cellists and other classical musicians. We hope it helps you keep track of your favorite artists, as well as find some new ones to add to your listening!
Big news from the Portland State School of Music and Theatre, as violin professor Tomas Cotik prepares to release his latest CD, Piazzolla: Legacy, on Oct. 13 through leading classical music record label Naxos. The album consists of music by Argentinian composer Astor Piazzolla and follows Cotik’s previous critically acclaimed album, Tango Nuevo, also featuring Piazzolla’s music. Professor Cotik will celebrate the release with a solo recital, “From Bach to Piazzolla,” at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 22 in PSU’s Lincoln Recital Hall (Room 75). The recital is free to all students, who should reserve tickets online
Turn the clock back fifty years and I attended a concert of music by the Argentinian composer, Astor Piazzolla, played by a traditional South American touring group. It wedded me to the composer, but sadly I have seldom heard that evening recreated, his music having been arranged, rearranged and generally mauled by those wanting to use it for their own commercial purposes. Here we have it serving to display the quite remarkable virtuosity of the Argentinian violinist, Tomas Cotik, who ideally creates the steamy atmosphere of some sleazy South American dance hall, as you look through the cigarette smoke filled vista, his small group seemingly fashioning the music as the mood takes them. Notes are bent as the dancers go through the erotic actions of the tango that is the basis of all Piazzolla’s music. In a previous review of Cotik playing Piazzolla, I begged the question, was Piazzolla composing ‘Classical’ music? That was his oft stated intent, but here we have ‘Classical’ musicians sending it in reverse, with jazz the dominating factor. There is the well-known Milonga del angel; the highly emotional, Balada para un loco; seductive Jeanne y Paul from the film, Last Tango in Paris, and my particular favourite, Las cuatro estaciones portenas. They are all quite superb, and if you want Piazzolla played by a violin, piano, double bass, and percussion, this has to be one disc you cannot afford to miss.
Portland violinist pays tribute to a tango composer and fellow Argentinian
Violinist Tomas Cotik may never become a tango dancer, but he can get you to feel like one when you listen to his latest album. It's a tribute to the music of the great Argentinian tango composer Astor Piazzolla on the 25th anniversary of his death. Titled "Legacy" and released on the Naxos label, Cotik's new recording explores several of Piazzolla's most popular pieces as well as a few obscure ones...Maybe some of the secret sauce that Cotik pours into his playing has to do with being born in Buenos Aires. The 40-year-old violinist can channel the street scenes of his boyhood and stir up intangible elements...So far, Cotik has been involved in 14 CDs, some of which feature him as the violin soloist.
But recordings tell only part of Cotik's musical journey. He has been busy since he arrived in Portland a little over a year ago as the assistant professor of violin at Portland State University. In addition to his work on campus, he has visited local high school music programs and youth orchestras..."I love what I do," said Cotik. "I often work until midnight. Even when I'm on vacation, I have to find time to work on my projects, like the article on violin technique that I'm finishing for The Strad magazine"..."I feel very lucky to be in Portland and to have fulfilled my dreams, teaching and recording and performing," he said. "I want to help students get closer to their dreams."
Shion Yamakawa, concertmaster of the Portland State University Symphony and recipient of the David E. Wedge Music Scholarship for music majors, feels Cotik's guidance has been beneficial. "I like studying with Dr. Cotik because he inspires me," said Yamakawa. "He has very high expectations and his work ethic is extraordinary. Dr. Cotik has helped me to truly listen to my own sound, and he has taught me that you can be the best teacher of yourself. He taught me to become more independent as a musician in terms of self-learning, time management and preparations. Dr. Cotik has helped me immensely on technical aspects as well, and my body is more relaxed now when I practice or perform."