Corelli’s Influence – virtuoso works for baroque violin Alexander Woods
“He performs runs and double stops with great flair…with elegant phrasing and subtle variations in dynamics…harpsichordist Avi Stein and cellist Ezra Seltzer, perform with distinction…Engineering is close and clear…this is a fine debut recording.” Barry Brenesal, Fanfare
Corelli’s influence on the virtuosic string writing of his contemporaries is brilliantly illustrated by these leading Baroque specialists.
Alexander Woods is a core member of the lauded early music group The Sebastians, winners of the Early Music America Baroque Performance Competition Audience Prize award. Acclaimed for ‘showstopping accounts’ and ‘deft, sensitive musicianship’ (New York Times) as well as ‘a reassuring sense of relaxed command’ (Seen and Heard International), Alexander Woods is joined by internationally recognized harpsichordist Avi Stein and baroque cellist Ezra Seltzer for this debut CD exploring the influence of Arcangelo Corelli’s timeless music. Featuring several dynamic and varied world premier recordings by baroque composers Antonio Montanari, Evaristo Felice Dall Abaco, and Henricus Albicastro, as well as established works by Arcagelo Corelli, and Pietro Castrucci, this recording highlights how these composers shine within the framework and architecture of Corelli’s sound world.
The musical opportunities available in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries produced so many skilled professionals in almost every field that only a handful of their names are familiar today, whether in instrumental music, opera, or sacred music (the last a particularly neglected area in research and performance). This anthology of late Baroque works for violin and continuo by Pietro Castrucci, Antonio Montanari, Arcangelo Corelli, Evaristo Dall’Abaco, and Henricus Albicastro appears to be the solo debut recording for violinist Alexander Woods. He studied in the New York area, as well as at the University of Arizona. For the past five years, has been professor of violin at Brigham Young University, where he is founder of the BYU Baroque Ensemble, a period-instrument group. Wood’s qualities as a performer are well illustrated if the listener compares his musical results with the reproduction of the Montanari Largo that appears in the booklet. The Dresden manuscript is clear and elegantly penned, but with no inflections marked—no slurs, articulations, accents, dynamics—the sort of source that could lead literal-minded fools to an interpretation reproducing the simplicity of the score. Instead, Woods approaches the music with an admirably Italian level of sprezzatura (nonchalance), so that none of the paired sixteenths that open the movement are the same, playing with a variety of both speed and accentuation of the notes as they first accelerate and then hold up before the perfectly placed breath at the end of the phrase. This is art that conceals art, as the complexity seems completely natural. Wood’s tone is beautiful and his intonation flawless. He is sympathetically assisted by cellist Ezra Seltzer and harpsichordist Avi Stein. Perhaps Woods might consider exploring the unknown riches of Cartier’s L’Art du Violon for his next disc? Here’s hoping.