Iva Bittová


Czech singer/player/composer Iva Bittová has said: “The violin is a mirror reflecting my dreams and imagination. I believe there are fundamentals to my performance, such as the music’s vibration and resonance between violin and my voice.” That relationship is beautifully explored on this album – recorded at Auditorio Radiotelevisione svizzera, Lugano, and produced by Manfred Eicher– which expresses the essence of Bittova’s unique and extraordinary solo work. The pieces here, modestly-titled ‘Fragments I-XII’ resist definition. An idiosyncratic ‘folk’ music, contemporary composition, improvisation, any and all of these may apply from moment to moment. Bittová’s music is a living, changing thing: “Deciding on a name for my style of music is far from over yet”. Iva Bittová was previously showcased in 2007 on the widely-acclaimed ECM album “Mater” by composer Vladimír Godár. This eponymously-titled disc now marks her solo debut for the label.

Die tschechische Sängerin, Musikerin und Komponistin Iva Bittová hat einmal gesagt: „Die Violine ist ein Spiegel, der meine Träume und eine Fantasien reflektiert. Ich glaube, dass meine Performance auf bestimmten Grundlagen basiert, den Schwingungen in der Musik und der Resonanz zwischen der Violine und meiner Stimme.“ Diese Beziehung wird auf dem Album – das im Auditorium Radiotelevisione svizzera von Manfred Eicher produziert wurde und die Essenz von Bittovas unverwechselbarer und außergewöhnlicher Soloarbeit deutlich zum Ausdruck bringt -  wunderbar ausgeleuchtet.
Die Stücke hier, bescheiden ‚Fragments I – XII’ betitelt, entziehen sich stilistischer Einordnung. Eine Art idiosynkratischer ‚Folkmusik’, moderne Komposition, Improvisation – all diese Beschreibungen mögen von einem Augenblick zum nächsten zutreffen, doch Bittovas Musik ist eine lebendige, wechselhafte Angelegenheit: „Ich habe noch längst nicht über einen Namen für meine Musik entschieden.“ Iva Bittova war 2007 auf dem viel beachteten ECM-Album „Mater“ des Komponisten Vladimír Godár vorgestellt worden. Dies ist nun ihr Solodebüt für das Label.
Featured Artists Recorded

February 2012, Auditorio RSI - Radio Svizzera, Lugano

Original Release Date


  • 1Fragment I
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 2Fragment II
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 3Fragment III
    (Iva Bittová, Gertrude Stein)
  • 4Fragment IV
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 5Fragment V
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 6Fragment VI
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 7Fragment VII
    (Iva Bittová, Chris Cutler)
  • 8Fragment VIII
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 9Fragment IX
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 10Fragment X
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 11Fragment XI
    (Iva Bittová)
  • 12Fragment XII
    (Iva Bittová)
Iva Bittová has long been one of contemporary music’s great originals – and her work has always resisted neat idiomatic definition: as she says herself, “deciding on a name for my style of music is far from over yet”. “Describing what she does is difficult” wrote Sharon Mesmer in the Brooklyn Rail, “like describing music to someone who’s never heard it. She shifts between speaking, incantation, and singing, and the sounds are given intuitive colorations that move perceived meanings up and down a trajectory of joy and sadness”.
Bittová has contributed to projects in many genres, from jazz to opera, worked with musicians in experimental rock and classical music, and was last heard on ECM flanked by the chamber orchestra Solamente Naturali and the Bratislava Conservatory Choir, singing Vladimir Godar’s cantata “Mater” (ECM New Series 1985), a work in fact inspired by Bittová’s vocal art, by its energy, discipline, and intuitive and emotional power.
All those qualities are in evidence on the present disc, her first for ECM under her own name. Recorded in Lugano last February, with Manfred Eicher producing, its modestly-titled “Fragments I-XII” explore the relationship and the resonance between the voice and violin which are central to Iva’s solo work.
“The violin accompanies me all the time. It is a mirror reflecting my dreams and imagination.” The exchanges and the counterpoint between voice and instrument are often uncanny. In the flow of things, in Bittová´s personal folklore, meticulously-realized pieces and spontaneous stream-of-consciousness improvisations may blur into each other, and the serious and the playful go hand in hand. The album is bookended by pieces for voice and kalimba. The gentle modulation of the thumb-piano, one of mankind’s oldest instruments and accompaniment of choice for the wandering griot, establishes an emotional and atmospheric climate that invites us to enter Bittová’s world of reveries, memories and revelations. Bittová draws on the sounds of her native Moravia and her lineage in the rich traditions of Slovakia and the Roma people. Her vocal palette merges these age-old practices with a sensibility attuned also to the demands of art music and the extended techniques of the avant-garde. Yet the transitions in her work never appear forced: a text by Getrude Stein, sung by Bittová (see “Fragment III”) can seem as natural as folk song. Her violin-playing is as versatile as her voice can be, by turns, austere, earthy, romantic, a tool for sonic exploration and emotional expression.