Palm Beach Arts Paper, June 2022

Tomás Cotik is a violinist, a professor at Portland State University, and perhaps most important, a scholar whose projects for the Centaur Records label have included complete surveys of the Mozart violin sonatas and Schubert violin-and piano works, as well as the Bach sonatas and partitas. Each of these recordings was accompanied by deeply learned program notes by Cotik, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Freiburg University for Music in Germany.

The Argentinian violinist – he also has issued two recordings of music by his native country’s best-known composer, Astor Piazzolla – is familiar to South Florida audiences for his years of residence here, in particular his tenure in the Amernet and Delray string quartets. He was a concertmaster for Michael Tilson Thomas at the New World Symphony, and taught at FIU and the University of Miami, where he earned his doctorate.

Last month, he released another recording for Centaur, the 12 Fantasias for violin solo of Georg Philipp Telemann (TW 40: 14-25).

Cotik’s performances throughout are clean, bright and precise; audio engineer Roderick Evenson captures a close and vivid sound in this recording, done at Portland State in 2020. Cotik’s faster movements are very swift and full of forward energy, such as the second and third movements of No. 8 in E major, which has a country-fiddling feel in the second movement and a nice dance-like swagger in the third. Or the second movement of No. 7 in E-flat major, in which Cotik makes much of Telemann’s bariolage and the syncopated wit of its thematic material.

Auditors of other performances, such as Hadelich’s, may find Cotik’s readings less interpretively generous; he is not given to stark dynamic contrasts or shaping highly personal lines. He leaves the entertainment value to what is inherent in Telemann’s writing, declining to remake them completely in his own image. That approach valorizes faith in the music over salesmanship, and while some listeners would prefer a flashier reading, for those interested in enjoying the music of this important 18th-century master, you would be hard-pressed to find a more honest guide than Tomás Cotik.

Greg Stepanich