A recital of stark but warm yet haunting clarity, it's impossible to categorize. Is it folk music? There's little doubt that the music of her native northern Moravia (at the time of her birth, still part of Czechoslovakia) imbues the proceedings. Is it classical music? It's equally clear that her musical family and academic training in drama, music and ballet prepared her for a life in that environs. Is it jazz? Perhaps not, but improvisation is clearly a part of her bigger picture, with additional cred from Moravian Gems (CubeMeteier), her 2007 date with bassist George Mraz. Perhaps Bittovà's music is something more easily described by what it's not than what it is. [...] It's an overall eccentric yet thoroughly compelling performance that possesses its own dramaturgy, even as it dispels myths of convention. ‘Iva Bittová’ is a curious and quirky debut, but one which reaps the continued rewards of repeat plays.
John Kelman, All About Jazz
Eine Frauenstimme wie aus dem Elysium, sinnlich, unbeschwert und mit herkömmlichen Maßstäben nicht zu fassen. Ein Gesang, ortlos, zart und wie ohne Anfang und ohne Ende. Diese Soloplatte der tschechischen Sängerin Iva Bittová, die sich selbst bei den im schweizerischen Lugano entstandenen Aufnahmen auf der Violine oder einem Daumenklavier begleitet, hat eine innere Leuchtkraft fern vom Üblichen. […] Diese Klänge sind wunderbar sinnlich, ohne dass sie auftrumpfen müssten. Sie sind fragil und doch von femininer Wucht zwischen Himmel und Erde.
Ulrich Steinmetzger, Leipziger Volkszeitung
There’s minimalism and there’s minimalism. Cast a glance in the direction of the blotchy almost opaque seascape of the artwork to Iva Bittová above, an album incidentally succinct enough to be self titled. The composition titles complete the effect: there’s just one word ‘Fragments’, and then a dozen roman numerals tacked on although they’re not so much variations as chapters in a continuing and engrossing tale. The Czech vocalist and violinist isn’t a minimalist in the Terry Riley sense at all but hovers at the pared-down end of improv with occasional bird-like forays and the incantatory power of a prophetess at other times. [...] Bittová manages to sound as if she’s from a desperately remote place, the instrument of a song emerging from the earth itself, yet the improvisations are never alienating. These ‘fragments’ would have been inconsequential in a lesser artist’s hands, but with Bittová enlarge before your very eyes. It’s a quality that makes this album, where less is more is paramount, so appealing.
Stephen Graham, Marlbank
The catch-all term ‘avant-garde’ is often used to describe singer/violinist Iva Bittová's music, but in truth her musical language—kaleidoscopic in color and unique in presentation—is essentially unclassifiable. A well known actress, Bittová expanded her horizons to music in the early eighties, since when she's bounced from Bartok to experimental rock, and from folk-influenced jazz to her collaboration with innovative New York ensemble Bang on a Can. Bittová's eclecticism is evident on her debut as leader for ECM, an intimate solo performance where her voice blends with violin and kalimba in an intoxicating brew that is both ethereal and invigoratingly rootsy.
The dozen tunes—simply titled Fragments I-XII—cover broad impressionistic ground, and whether accompanied by kalimba or violin, or singing solo, Bittová's emotive language stems from the depths of the human soul. Violin colors the majority of the tracks, but more than an accompanying instrument, it's an extension of Bittová's voice and of her Moravian heritage, both classical and gypsy. [...] The allure of Bittová's music lies in her disregard for convention and in her all-encompassing musical vision. There's wicked beauty in the spells she casts.
Ian Patterson, AllAboutJazz
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.
Grego Applegate Edwards, ClassicalModernMusic