The Art Music Lounge, Nov. 2017

Cotik Kicks Butt in Piazzolla! Perhaps one reason I liked these performances so much was that Cotik and Osvaldo Calo arranged these pieces for violin, bass and piano, but surely the main reason is that Cotik is a hell of a violinist who plays with tremendous vitality and rhythmic acuity. In his very able hands, the music practically jumps off his bowstrings, and in the process, both he and pianist Tao Lin sound as if they’re practically dancing as they play...the slow, sensual Milonga del ángel for a good example of how well Cotik can draw a sweet legato from his instrument, equaling anything that such masters as Yehudi Menuhin or Jascha Heifetz did in their prime. In addition, he injects a feeling of lightness and fun into the proceedings that most classical fiddlers simply cannot, with the possible exception of Gilles Apap of the Transylvania Mountain Boys. I do hope that Cotik will consider it a compliment when I say that his playing reminded me of such jazz masters of the violin as Joe Venuti (especially) and Stéphane Grappelli. Certainly, Menuhin himself thought Grappelli one of the greatest violinists of his genre, so much so that he played with him, both in public and on recordings, for a decade. If Cotik ever turned his attention to jazz violin, he’d have absolutely no trouble swinging. When I say that Cotik reminds me more of Venuti than Grappelli it is due to two factors. First, the looseness of Venuti’s rhythm was always a shade wilder and less inhibited than Grappelli, and second, Cotik, like Venuti, has a slightly thinner and brighter tone quality. This is not a negative quality; by employing a somewhat thinner tone, Cotik is able to loosen the rhythm easier and more naturally. Indeed, most classical violinists (and cellists) cannot swing because they are so tone-focused that they can’t loosen the bow tension enough to make their instrument “fly,” and you absolutely have to do this in order to achieve this kind of sound. As for the music, it’s delightful because of how Cotik plays it. Cotik, Lin and the percussionists close out this set with the effervescent Fracanapa, which moves like a freight train from start to finish. Cotik is at his most daring here, pulling on his violin strings and hitting them with the edge of his bow, and the music practically jumps at you. A wild and wonderful CD. I’m so glad I decided to review it! Lynn René Bayley READ MORE