Fanfare Magazine, May, 2015

Violinist Tomás Cotik explains in the notes to Centaur's collection that he plays Georg Philipp Telemann's and Johann Sebastian Bach's works with a Baroque bow that offers him effortless transparency. He sounds exceptionally agile in the bariolages featured in the very brief Allegro and exceptionally expressive in the Grave before turning in the finale to a reprise of the second movement. Bach's Solo Sonata in C Major, the third and most complex of the three sonatas in Bach's set allows Cotik to make his violin reverberate in the many double-stops incorporating open strings. But the movement's effect hardly depends on sonority alone, and Cotik transcend even the profoundly meditative quality he divined in Telemann's slow movements. At a tempo that sounds brisk (the movement takes 8:41--Jascha Heifetz took 8:40 in 1952 but 9:04 in 1935; Nathan Milstein, on the other hand, got slower, at 9:20 in 1954 and 9:45 in 1973,..he fashions from the fugue, as he did from the Adagio, a compelling musical narrative that, despite its tempo, hardly sounds lightweight or breezy--or technically awkward. The Largo leads to a reading of the finale that's so brisk....the speed in this case just adds to the exhilarating effect of a concerto-like movement for one instrument that throws off sparks as might a grind wheel....             Franz Schubert's collections of Ländler, which Cotik claims to have encountered while engaging in dissertation research on the composer, contribute something new to the program. It may sound surprising to listeners that they stand so solidly on their own, but Cotik claims that Schubert may have intended them to be heard just this way rather than simply as sketches. (Dancers in the British Isles often employed only a single fiddler during this period--Charles Dickens refers to the practice in A Christmas Carol.) If they're to be played unaccompanied, however, the violinist must at least swaddle them in a blanket of idiomatic nuance, as Cotik does, making them sound both ingratiating and substantial. The solo violin sounds very different in the edgy accents of Astor Piazzolla's Tango Études, and Cotik delivers the music of this now obligatory composer (apparently now it's Bach, Beethoven, and Piazzolla) with cheeky verve, virtuosic aplomb, and idiomatic authenticity (Cotik grew up in Argentina). Cotik's solo recital should go down without a spoonful of sugar; in fact, those reaching the end may need to be reminded that they've been listening for more than an hour to violin unaccompanied. That's a significant accomplishment in itself. Strongly recommended. Robert Maxham READ MORE