Review of Fire Wire Steven Joseph, 2015
Dear friends, if you agree we may try to think together what should be the profile of a young contemporary classical guitarist. This thing could not be idle and trivial than it might seem at first impression. The current classical guitar world continues to live on the Andres Segovia’s myth (well deserved) and the figures no less legendary of Julian Bream and John Williams, the great XX century pillars of our personal instrument. And then? And then the classical guitar world became a little.. fragmented, divided into specialized areas, who, impatient of its restricted repertoire, embraced contemporary music, those who abhorred it and remained anchored to the classical-romantic repertoire, following philological paths often not less “brainy” than those walked by the twelve-tone composers, those who decided to go even further back rediscovering and revitalizing the Renaissance and Baroque music. Meanwhile, the world was changing and it continues to change, the figures of the great interpreters loaded themselves with a mythical dawn (I’m talking about the same almost mystical aura so dear to Walter Benjamin) celebrating their careers with beautiful CD box sets (see Bream and Williams). And the young people? What would be the profile of a new Bream or a new Williams? (A new Segovia can not exist).
I believe that in a so “liquid”, unstable and …. yes, exciting society and historical period, like the one we are living, particular qualities are required, skills that can allow a young interpreter to start a professional career not less complex and complicated then the reality we are living. I think that the era of specialists is closed, the music, the world returned to turn 360 degrees and the competition is huge. I see, I feel, I hear young musicians who have a simply enormous technical and stylistic skill, certainly thanks to the high level achieved in education and teaching in conservatories around the world. What is missing? A personal style, perhaps a desire, maturity maybe? But when I listen to records like this FireWire by the young Steven Joseph I also realize how these elements may already be present in the ideas and in the hands of a young performer who chose the difficult career of a professional musician.
Steven Joseph sounds good, very good. He shows considerable skill and musical maturity and demonstrates very well be able to move with ease and elegance through the various passages by Jobim, Westlake, Reinhardt, Ryan, Ward, Riviera, Duarde and his autobiographical Voyager. Definitely a good job, well recorded and with a personal but also “flexible” sound, able to adapt to the needs and characteristics of different songs and styles here interpreted. More applauses for the Variations on a Catalan Folk Song by John Duarte.