Strings Magazine, May 2018

Artur Schnabel said, 'The sonatas of Mozart are unique: too easy for children, too difficult for adults. Children are given Mozart to play because of the quantity of notes; grownups avoid him because of the quality of notes.' Violinist Tomas Cotik's recordings of a wide musical spectrum have received high praise from esteemed critics. Assistant professor at Portland State University, Cotik demonstrates his special love for the early Viennese school masters, Schubert and now Mozart. Performing extensively in chamber music, Cotik is well placed for this most intimate of forms, the incomparable Mozart Sonatas. Cotik sounds consistently brilliant even in some of the pared-down violin parts of the early sonatas, which mostly follow the tunes on piano a third or sixth below. Comparisons are inevitable; on my shelves are the Grumiaux- Haskil team, the Stern-Barenboim combination, Szymon Goldberg and Radu Lupu, and Zukerman and Neikrug readings. Inevitable also are the now vastly improved digital-recording techniques unattainable earlier. Cotik and Tao Lin imbue the early Kurfürstin sonatas with appropriate delicacy and grace, befitting their youthful innocence. The middle or Aurnhammer sonatas herald a deeper maturity, with the violin part taking a far bigger role. The later Viennese works reach their apotheosis in the genre; the violin line unfettered at last, taking its rightful place. Poignantly, the last sonata in F, K. 547, despite its sophistication, is titled, 'a little sonata for beginners.' The Cotik-Lin duo can take its place among those earlier esteemed ensembles with heads held high. Warmly and sensitively played with beauty of tone, Cotik's collaboration with Lin captures the essence of Mozart in finely spun tone and sensitive contrasts in dynamics, rhythmic integrity, and clear phrasing. Their deeply felt rendition of this purest of music, from the carefree early sonatas to the more dramatic later opuses, is a model of transparency and genuine emotion.