(Wolfgang Rihm “Gesungene Zeit”)

The biggest discovery I made during the festival was the music of Czech violinist Hana Kotkova during Wolfgang Rihm's "Gesungene Zeit." The sound of her violin was so instantly sonically mesmerizing that it made me think I had never heard a violin before, and yet it also made me feel that I understood the entire history of the instrument through her playing. Her tone had a rich warmth that made it stand out in complete relief against the percussion, piccolo, flute, clarinet, harp and other strings in the chamber orchestra. This play between the violin and the ensemble is also part of the composition, but even in the 2nd movement, when lines are tangled and reflected, Kotkova's violin was distinct and radiant. She could make the sound huge and galloping or tiny and sharp, as light as a spider itching its leg. The tonal quality was so exquisite that the category of the beautiful no longer seemed relevant: this was music beyond beauty: primal, galactic, entrancing.

The only adequate comparison I can make to how hearing her play live affected me is the time when I first heard and saw drummer Paul Lovens perform in 1996. Briefly, the first time I saw Lovens play was in an improv duet with saxophonist Evan Parker, whose music I loved and was feverishly anticipating hearing live for the first time. But when they came onstage and started playing, all of my attention immediately turned to Lovens: I had never seen or heard anything like the music he was making before me. (Even Parker must have been taken aback, because after only two minutes, he stepped back and let Lovens solo.) Ever since that concert, I have had an unparalleled regard for Mr. Lovens' music, and now I feel the same about Ms. Kotkova's playing. Both of these musicians have taught me things not only about what music is capable of, but, philosophically, how the body functions in time, amid stimulus, thought and the actions of other bodies.

Andrew Choate

Facsimile Magazine, Published by Haoyan of America. Volume Three, Number Eleven, 2009.

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Kotková | Trioweb Prod. 2010

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