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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Iva Bittova

Someone like Iva Bittova is beyond category. She is not easily pigeonholed. In a search-engine-land medium where categorization is the first criteria, she does not easily fit. For her latest album, titled simply Iva Bittova (ECM B0018081-02), I decided to include her in the modern classical blog, because her music has compositional structure.

The album is the first under her own name. On the surface it is a simple matter. Iva sings, accompanied or unaccompanied by her violin and kalimba playing. The pieces have folk purity yet come across as contemporary music. Partly that has to do with how the vocals and violin interact and what is going on with them musically, of course.

It is the sort of spatially resonant music that ECM and Manfred Eicher love to place in a sound stage, and indeed the music glows in that classic ECM manner.

The strains of her native Moravia and the Slovak folk tradition in general most definitely have an important place as foundations for Iva's music. Yet her own sense of concertizing gives it a different life. The "Fragments I-XII" title is modest. In a way this is a concerted piece for Iva alone. An interrelated twelve-part soliloquy from Iva to you.

Lovely, very personal, and very direct. You want something with plenty of room in it and filled with a folksy earthiness yet also an inherent musical structuration (is that a word?)? You'll find it here. Very comfortably.

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